The ‘A’ List
Exceptional businesses that have made Charleston the amazing place we all know and love.
Photos by Lea Austen
While the Lowcountry may be known for its beautiful beaches and unbeatable sunshine, what makes our city truly unique is the amazing businesses you’ll find in every neighborhood. Our Men + Women in Business feature highlights the exceptional businesses that have made Charleston the amazing place we all know and love. Read on to learn about how these owners got started, what motivates them in their job and why they love doing business in Charleston.
Advanced Window Fashions
Jacquelynn Maxwell, partner/operations manager
502 Wando Park Blvd, Unit 105
When/how did you decide your career? I realized co-owning Advanced Window fashions was an opportunity for me to succeed, to learn something new, and challenge myself in a fun field. I discovered a career that allowed me to meet amazing customers that I have formed long-term relationships. And with each new day comes the opportunity for a new, unique project. -Nancy McCrae, partner and design consultant
Where/when did you start out? We started out of our home in the very beginning, then we moved into a shared space with some decorators. Once we grew our customer base, we opened up our first gallery in 2008 on Coleman Blvd. When that space became too small, we moved in early 2009 to a leased space in Seaside. We moved into our current location on Wando Park Boulevard in 2010. -Nancy McCrae
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? I love the process from start to finish and getting to see the customer’s face when they get to see their new product. I love that I don’t do the same thing every day. There’s always a new project and a new challenge.
Mother and daughter team Darla Miller and Sharon Campbell
554 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mt Pleasant
Describe your business: We are known in the Low country as the place to go for quality outdoor furniture. We are the outdoor furniture boutique in the Low country featuring outdoor furniture, accessories including outdoor pillows, rugs, lamps and much more.
How did you get started? After graduating from the College of Charleston, I made the decision to come to work at Backyard Retreats rather than teach. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I love what I do. Working with people and helping them create their own Backyard Retreats is a very rewarding career. I cannot imagine working anywhere else. Also, working with my Mom is a great experience. -Darla Miller
Best business advice you’ve received: “Always treat customers like you want to be treated" – Sharon Campbell
Why do you love doing business in Charleston: We love living and working in the Lowcountry and also working with all the great residence including the ones already living here and all the new ones moving to our wonderful area. We find it very rewarding to create beautiful retreats in our customers own backyards.
The Bed Swing
Martin Shuler, owner
Describe your business and what in entails. We handcraft hanging bed swings and accessorize them with comfortable and stylish outdoor fabrics. Although we have several pre-designed beds, we can customize the size and style to meet the customer’s needs. Sunbrella is our go to fabric brand but have expanded our design selections by offering additional outdoor fabric brands.
How did you start out? Growing up on a dairy farm in S.C. I learned how to fix most anything. I combined my acquired carpentry skills with my passion for design and started The Bed Swing in early 2016. I have grown the business over the five years and have a woodshop and showroom in Mount Pleasant.
Best business advice you’ve ever received? As with life, patience, planning and persistence is the key to getting to where you want to go. As the old adage says, “measure twice, cut once.”
Anything new we can look forward to for the future? We are working on creating more accessories and complimentary pieces of furniture such as floor cushions, ottomans and coffee tables to go along with our bed swings.
Black Magic Cafe
Eran and Jennifer Maron, owners
1130 Folly Rd., James Island
1716 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley
Describe your business and what it entails. We are a worldly family with five children and come from different parts of the world, Israel and upstate New York. Together, we were inspired to create a place that has great food and drinks, in a family-friendly atmosphere, where you can kick back and relax with breakfast and lunch daily and a large variety of gourmet coffee and cocktails.
Where did you start out? We opened the first Black Magic back in 2009 on Folly Beach. At the time, there were no coffee shops on the island, and you had to drive 20 minutes to get coffee. Who knew back then this would turn into what it is today?
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? We enjoy creating together! Taking an old 1950s “house” and turning it into a full-service restaurant took vision. Reclaimed lumber from the original fence was used for decorative wall paneling across the dining room, and many of the nostalgic/retro signs from past travels. We also enjoy creating the “right vibe” so the atmosphere complements your mood.
Woody Norris, founder
Describe your business and what it entails. Booze Pops is a local, veteran-owned, family- friendly, business, that is focused on bringing communities together one Booze Pop at a time, creating jobs and a safe place to wait for your ride. Alcohol-infused popsicles are sold out of an ice cream truck at various locations around Charleston.
What do you like best about what you do? I truly enjoy the happiness Booze Pops, a company built for my daughters, brings to the community.
What do you like best about doing business in Charleston? It is amazing doing business in Charleston and being able to see the difference we are making. I figured we can’t stop the party, but we can help control the party and make those dark parking lots much safer.
Anything new we can look forward to in the future? We have tons of new products being released this summer, all tested by customers. Customers design our menus. We will also be open very soon in Columbia, SC.
Carmella’s Café ad Dessert Bar
Brian Solari, owner
198 East Bay St., Charleston
Describe your business. We are a European/Italian-style cafe. I added the term “Dessert Bar” to our name because it's not common to go to a place and get alcoholic beverages, especially liquor drinks, in cafes in the U.S., as it is in Europe. We offer not just coffee and dessert, but also gelato, sorbet, daily cakes and a full cafe with sandwiches. We also make cocktails with the dessert products, like alcoholic milkshakes, sorbetto frose and a customer favorite, the espresso martini.
Where did you start out? I grew up in and around the Atlantic City, NJ area. Most of my family is from South Philadelphia and I grew up in an atmosphere where eating was the most important thing you did. There were always people gathering at my grandmother's, Carmella's, house throughout the day, eating last night's leftover pasta, grabbing some biscotti, or making sandwiches. Good, casual food was always a priority and when you weren't making it, or eating it, you were talking about it. It really was all encompassing.
What do I love about what you do? I have heard many times that Carmella's is someone's favorite place to hang out in. I have also heard a few times that my place was the reason someone moved to Charleston, and that is truly an incredible compliment.
What do you like best about doing business in Charleston? I love Charleston, and I love working downtown. It's such a beautiful city. And the people that come to visit are really in awe of how unique it is. The city lends itself to great beauty and art, and food is truly art. So when I decided to open Carmella's I wanted to make sure that we represented ourselves in a way that complimented the city.
Charleston Crab House (two locations, on James Island & downtown)
Shem Creek Crab House (Mt. Pleasant)
A.W. Shuck’s Seafood Shack (downtown)
Oyster House Seafood Restaurant (downtown)
John Keener, owner, Scott Larymore, Chaz Wendel, Kim Jackson
Describe your business We operate five local Charleston seafood restaurants with 250 team members. Our style is casual and fun.
When/how did you decide your career? After managing RB’s On Shem Creek in the 80’s for the legend Ronnie Boals, I knew that I would make hospitality my profession.
Where/when did you start out? I started as a burger flipper at McDonalds at 15 years old, then stayed in the food & beverage tunnel for the past 55 years.
How did you end up in your current role? Gambled and rolled the dice in 1990 to open the first Charleston Crab House at Wappoo Cut. We worked hard and it paid off.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? It is something different every day, there is nothing monotonous about being in the hospitality business. Things change on a dime and we adjust and adapt quickly to take care to the needs of staff and customers.
You’d never guess that…I was born in Montreal and played soccer (goalie) at East Carolina University.
What do you love about doing business in Charleston? Charleston has one of the most unique restaurant customer markets in the world. We cater to the families on vacation, to the sports team, to the locals with local knowledge, to the historians, the military, the beach bums, the poor, the rich, all races and all countries - everyone in the world wants to come to Charleston.
Anything new coming up that we can look forward to? I like the way our fast casual restaurant is doing “AW Shucks Seafood Shack” on King. Looking to grow that concept in the near future. - John Keener, owner
Classic Remodeling & Construction, Inc.
Bob Fleming, President; Jason Wagner, Production Manager; Gianna Sweet, Design Consultant; Christy Ammerman, Project Consultant/Lead Designer; Ben Dammeyer, Draftsman
1832 River Rd, Johns Island
Describe your business and what it entails: Classic Remodeling is a full-service, design-build remodeling firm. We are the only Charleston-area contractor who specializes exclusively in high-end residential remodeling. Our projects range from kitchens and bathrooms to additions and whole house renovations. Our clients get the benefit of working with one company from design through construction. Additionally, we take care of obtaining all necessary neighborhood approvals and permits. Once construction begins, our homeowners have a dedicated project craftsman. By having this whole team under one roof, we can provide a turn-key remodeling experience for our clients.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? Seeing the transformation of the space, and how the change can truly improve the way our clients live, is very satisfying.
What do you love about doing business in Charleston? We can find ourselves working on everything from a modern beachfront home to a historic downtown property. Every project is unique and presents different opportunities for problem-solving and creativity.
Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse
Armelindo Conte, Head Chef
2411 Mall Dr, North Charleston
Our business: Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse is an unique “all you can eat” experience. We serve 16 cuts of beef, lamb, chicken and pork carved at your table. A house favorite is the “Picanha” a tender, juicy cut of beef grilled to your desired temperature.
How did you get started? The owner, Edson Munekata, was originally born and raised in Brazil and first opened our Columbia, SC location 10 years ago. We were overwhelmed with the response and decided to expand to other markets, including Charleston. Sherrie Hughes is the general manager.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? It is an awesome experience when you run dinner service and everyone is enjoying themselves. You can come into our restaurant and start eating immediately.
Why do you love about doing business in Charleston? Being in Charleston, we have customers from all over the world!
Fred Holland Realty
LaJuan Kennedy Broker in Charge
106 W Hudson Ave A, Folly Beach
Describe your business and what it entails. Sales and management of real estate. We sell in the Folly Beach and James Island as our primary area, but can sell all over the state. We manage vacation rentals and long-term accommodations.
When did you start out? I was approached by Fred Holland, who had just opened an office at Folly Beach, to come work for him as a sales agent in March of 1973. In 1976, we went into vacation rentals and I took over management of most of that operation and became broker-in-charge.
Best business advice you’ve received? Always be honest with your customers.
You’d never guess that…I love working on the beach, but I never go in the water
What do you love about doing business in Charleston? Charleston and the surrounding areas are very unique. We have history, beautiful beaches and great weather.
Certified Public Accountants and Advisors
The McCay Kiddy Team: Justin Kiddy, Melissa Kiddy, Danny Quirk, Russel Deal
Three Charleston locations
What makes you different than others in your profession? We meet the higher-level needs of our clients in areas other than just taxes. For decades, our industry has been about income tax forms which does very little to help business owners run their day-to-day operations. Our accounting and CFO services address struggle points by providing accurate business performance and cash flow management to avoid draining budgets with an internal finance team.
What have you done during COVID to help your customers? Our team has spent countless hours researching and acting the new COVID funding sources, regulations, and law changes. We are helping clients with advice on PPP loans, ERTC tax credits, stay at home tax credits and COVID quarantine credits which saves them thousands of dollars.
Anything new coming up that we can look forward to? We have some BIG news coming and we want to share it with you! Follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletters on our website to be the first to know.
McPhail Clinic for Regenerative Medicine
Dr. Drew K. McPhail
1709 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville
Describe your business and what it entails: McPhail Clinic for Regenerative Medicine is an ever-growing practice that that is driven by the passion of our providers, staff and wonderful patients. Our goal is to help patients defeat chronic degenerative conditions without the use of unnecessary drugs or surgery. Through Regenerative Medicine, chiropractic, medical and a multitude of therapies available, we strive to help our patients to regain their comfort and mobility and ultimately achieve their God-given inborn potential.
Best Business Advice I’ve Ever Received: People do not care how much you know; they want to know how much you care. So, every day, every patient, give them the best care you possibly can.
Why I Chose This Career: I suffered a low back injury that I was told would require surgery. I went to a local chiropractor and in two weeks I was pain free and have been ever since. That injury changed my life so much, I relocated my family and went back to school for another for years. Now 20 years later, I have the opportunity to change lives every day!
You’d Never Guess That… I was a pretty good surfer in High School, then went on to be an All-American Offensive Lineman in College.
MHK Architecture & Planning
Mitch Lehde, regional director of the South Carolina and North Carolina offices and Matthew Kragh, founder
60 Broad St. Charleston
Where/when did you start out? I studied at the University of Florida and first began my career in architecture working in Naples, Florida.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? I love getting to know each of our clients on a deep, personal level and the discovery process of helping them through the design process to make their home everything that they want it to be.
You’d never guess that…. I originally was planning on a career as a naval pilot.
Why do you love about doing business in Charleston? I love the deep history of the community, the culture of the people and the atmosphere /context of being able to create designs that draw from history and the beautiful environments therein.
Anything new coming up that we can look forward to? We are excited to bring some of the new amazing coastal designs that we have been doing in the Florida market to the Charleston area that draw on some historical elements while providing a design that adopts to the modern living and open living floor plans. -Answers by Mitch Lehde
Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Specialists SC
Dr. Matthew Barefoot, DDS, MD
1203 Two Island Ct., Ste 102, Mt. Pleasant
How did you end up in Charleston? Upon finishing my residency training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2010, I became a partner of a Savannah, GA based surgical group. In 2015, I purchased a solo practice in Mt. Pleasant.
Describe your business and what it entails: OSS Carolina is a private oral surgery practice offering the full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery services, specializing in dental implant placement and wisdom teeth removal. I hold dual degrees as both a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and Medical Doctor (MD) and am a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? I love to help patients get to a place of comfort and health.
Best business advice you have received? Anything is possible with the right frame of mind and attitude.
What do you love about doing business in Charleston? I fell in love with the culture, the people, and the beauty of Charleston immediately. I feel honored that I can make a difference in the lives of people in our community and blessed call this vibrant city home.
Anything new coming up that we can look forward to? Our annual “Wisdom for Wisdom” program provides a deserving student with free wisdom teeth extractions to help offset college expenses.
Learn more at the Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Specialists South Carolina’s website, applications will be accepted through June 3.
Recitals Hair Salon
William Murphy, proprieter
1710 Shoremeade Rd. Ste 430
Describe your business: We are a full-service hair salon with a talented team of artists with a price structure to make luxury beauty affordable to any budget.
When did you decide your career? I decided to pursue cosmetology in the early 90's while living in Connecticut after a career in education and was inspired by a brother of one of my friends who was a "rockstar"stylist and salon owner and was very successful.
How did you get to Charleston? I ended up opening the Recitals Hair Salon in February of 2020 after relocating to Charleston with my family from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. My son had earned a scholarship to play football for the University of South Carolina and we wanted to be close to see him further his career. After a visit to Mt. Pleasant, I saw the need for a luxury full-service salon and found space centrally located in Mt. Pleasant in the new Indigo Square Plaza right across from Towne Centre.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? I enjoy helping people look and feel their best and I enjoy mentoring up-and-coming stylists to reach their full potential and have a successful career.
You'd never guess that… I was once a collegiate football player like my son.
Why do you love about doing business in Charleston? I love the business culture in Charleston because people really do shop local and support independent businesses. As a true Southern city, the residents always want to look their best.
Anything new coming up that we can look forward to? We are launching our 'Ladies Night Out' event monthly on the third Thursday of every month to give ladies a night out to learn the latest buzz in beauty combined with light snacks and craft libations from 5 to 8 p.m.
Reinvented Upscale Resale
Beth Cook, owner
847 Savannah Hwy, Charleston
Describe your business and what it entails: We are an upscale resale ladies clothing consignment store. We strive for quality.
When/how did you decide your career? This time I have been in business 15years. I love my career because it changes every day. Never old, always exciting.
Who do you credit with your success? My family, John, Lydia and Mathew believed in me. My team and I transformed the space on Savannah Highway into the whimsical space it is today. Hard work and dedication wins every time.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? I am very much a people person. I have so much fun meeting and talking to all walks of life everyday. I love to make people feel special, it makes me feel special too.
Anything new coming up that we can look forward to? Reinvented Upscale Resale changes daily. It is the thrill of the hunt. Watch us every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. on Facebook Live.
Caroline Rhodes, owner
92 Folly Rd Blvd., Charleston
Describe your business: A retailer of ladies apparel, accessories, shoes, baby and men’s gifts, wedding registry, home décor, in-house design and embroidery services. We have trunk shows, book signings, and events with local jewelry designers and artists on a regular basis. We are a one-stop shop for apparel and gifts.
How did you end up in your current role? My husband bought a Fly Fishing store in 2000, and needed help running it since he was a pediatrician and not able to be on site much. I stepped in to help with marketing at first then running the store. I added gifts to the retail mix there and began corporate and personal embroidery services. When I moved into South Windermere, I began to expand on gifts and ladies apparel. It all grew from there.
What do you enjoy the most about what you do? I love making customers happy. I see most of our merchandise from start to finish, meaning from the purchasing decision to the sale to the customer, and love it when Rhodes can meet our customers’ needs; that they are delighted to find just the right thing!
You’d never guess that… I was a “June Bug” on the June Timmerman Show when I was a kid in Columbia.
Anything new coming up that we can look forward to? New deliveries of apparel come in everyday! We will be hosting at least one trunk show per month and having guest speakers in Rhodes Home & Gift, two doors down.