• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine

When the Gullah Kinfolk get together to practice, it’s a family reunion, a prayer meeting, a celebration and a very serious commitment to their art, all at once. They arrive after a full day’s work, after dinner, and after dark.  They are there to prepare for their annual Christmas show with their Director, Anita Prather, or as you may know her, Aunt Pearlie Sue.

     This really is a family reunion, for many of the group are related, and those who aren’t related by blood might as well be, because their bonds are strong and long-standing. Rehearsal is not only serious business, but it is also a time to catch up with each other’s news and watch each other’s children grow up.

     And it really is a prayer meeting, because these singers pair their commitment to the presentation of their Gullah heritage with their faith in God and a desire to praise him, and the songs they sing reflect that.  Most have learned to sing in church choirs, and the level of talent and professionalism is very high.

     When Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk perform, they make you feel like part of that loving family.  Their joy in singing together is palpable and infectious, and they take you in – you are no longer a stranger.   It doesn’t matter whether or not you can carry a tune; you will find yourself singing with them – in spirit, if not in fact.

     The full-stage musical, “Gullah Christmas Wish…Freedom Coming” has become a holiday favorite. This presentation is intended for people of all ages and races who want to catch the holiday spirit. It will be held on December 1st at 7:00 PM at USCB’s Performing Arts Center.

     This musical performance depicts the last Christmas before the Civil War. It’s an historical account of December of 1860 and South Carolina has just seceded from the Union. The War of Freedom is the talk by both servant and master. The audience will get a glimpse into the “Quarters” and “Big House.”

     Through soul-stirring, foot stopping singing and dancing, the audience is drawn into the excitement of the Yuletide season on a South Carolina Sea Island plantation. The show has become very popular with travelers near and far who wish to experience the spirit of the season. People have traveled from as far as London, England to see this performance.

The Festival

     The Festival of Trees benefiting Friends of Caroline is one of Beaufort’s beloved holiday celebrations.  The 2017 Festival continues a tradition that started thirty years ago.  The Festival showcases beautifully decorated trees that are judged for their originality and creativity.  The Festival kicks off with an Opening Gala featuring a silent auction, music, wine, beer and appetizers from local restaurants.

This year’s event will be held at The Shed November 30th through December the 3rd.  The Opening Gala will be Thursday, November 30th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  More than 350 individuals usually attend this reception where the trees are previewed prior to opening to the general public on Friday, December 1st.

     This year there will be Festival Shoppes open throughout the event where you can get curated Christmas treasures from Friends of Caroline Thrift Store, school tours, kids fun zone, a Sunday Snow Day (with real snow to play in), a visit by Santa himself along with Mrs. Claus and even a live reindeer.

Here’s the schedule for this year’s event. You just don’t want to miss it.

Festival Schedule

November 30, 2017– Opening Gala from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Shed in Port Royal (featuring tree sales, silent auction, and local restaurants)

December 1, 2017– General Admission from 10 am to 6 pm

December 2, 2017– Yoga in the Trees at 8 am, General Admission 10 am to 6 pm, Frozen Day 11 am to 2 pm

December 3, 2017– General Admission 11 am to 6 pm, Snow Day 11 am to 2 pm

     Come and see the decorated trees and enjoy food vendors with themed dishes and lots of fun for the kids including a rock climbing wall, bungee jumping, face painting and more.

Any child who signs up for their school’s tour will receive free admission, courtesy of Sea Smiles Pediatric Dentistry.

General Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children

     On Saturday meet special guests Elsa and Anna from Disney’s Frozen who will be in attendance from 11am to 2pm to enjoy talking with the kids and taking photos and visit with our live reindeer, Sven, courtesy of Sea Island Carriage Co.

     Yoga in the Trees is also scheduled for Saturday at 8am with Brittney Hiller. Yoga in the Trees is free, but donations are accepted.

     If Frozen Saturday wasn’t enough, a special Snow Day returns bigger and better than before. Bring the kids from 11am to 2pm to enjoy playing in the snow, building a snowman or having

snowball fights with our outdoor snow fields bungee jumping, face painting and more. General Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children

     Opening Gala Reception tickets can be purchased online by visiting FriendsofCarolineHospice.org/Events

Become a supporter of this year’s Festival by sponsoring a tree, decorating a tree, donating an item to the silent auction, buying a ticket to the Opening Gala and telling your friends about the event. The Festival has raised close to a million dollars and this treasured event would not be possible without the amazing support of businesses, community groups and individuals who donate their time, talent and treasures to make this event a success.

     FRIENDS of Caroline HOSPICE serves individuals and families in Beaufort County and provides hospice care, bereavement and caregiver support services to all individuals in the community regardless of their ability to pay.

FRIENDS OF CAROLINE HOSPICE

FRIENDS of Caroline is committed to providing the highest quality care to patients and families of those suffering from a life-limiting illness.  FRIENDS is a local, non-profit, Medicare-certified hospice provider that has been serving throughout Beaufort County for the past 37 years.  Adult Bereavement and Support groups are offered to family members of patients served by FRIENDS as well as any member of the community at large who has experienced a loss. Donations from individuals, businesses and foundations allow FRIENDS of Caroline to provide hospice care, bereavement and caregiver support services to all individuals in our community regardless of their ability to pay. FRIENDS of Caroline, “adding life to days”.

Everyone knows that the traditional Christmas colors are green, white and red. For merchants, however, black is perhaps the most important color of the season. It means enough silver and gold could come their way to get their bottom line out of the red.

     Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving, is called “Black” because it is the official start of the Christmas shopping season. The season is what puts retailers in the black. Unless you are in retail, you’re probably not aware of how expensive it is to succeed in that field and how slim margins can be.  Most retailers operate at a loss throughout the year. They stay afloat because of the year-end frenzy of consumer spending.

     It is generally believed that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, but that’s not necessarily the case. Typically, busiest shopping day honors goes to the Saturday before Christmas or, if Christmas falls on a weekend, the Thursday and Friday before.

     But Black Friday is well worth celebrating, since it begins the season that makes a retailer’s year. Very few people get all of their Christmas shopping done in any single day during the season. It is the entire month (give or take) leading up to Christmas that makes the merchants merry.

     The whole thing conjures up images of ravenous shoppers barreling mindlessly through stores, trampling everyone in their way, grabbing at everything in sight, and contending with one another over the last great bargain.

     But that’s not the true holiday spirit. That spirit can be found when shoppers are truly thoughtful about what they buy and where they buy it. That’s why the small business organizations of Beaufort, Port Royal, St. Helena and the surrounding areas encourage residents to spend their money in local businesses.

     Dollars spent in our  locally owned businesses have a tremendous impact on our community. When shopping locally, the dollars stay in our community, creating jobs, funding more city services, and providing more money for community development.

     In our region, buying locally also means dining locally. Beaufort is legendary for its cuisine, from traditional fine dining to the most amazing, authentic lowcountry cooking. Tourists come from all over the world to eat right here, but these restaurants are cherished possessions of the local landscape. They’re not just for tourists. As you are doing your holiday shopping this year…and you happen upon one of those people that are so hard to buy for…consider a gift certificate for one of our local restaurants. You can’t go wrong giving a friend or family member a great meal in one of their favorite local places.

     Small businesses form the backbone of our local economy, generating jobs and improving the quality of life for citizens. For every dollar you spend locally, you are doing your part to help stimulate and preserve your local economy.

     And, don’t forget about the wonderful services provided by some of our local small businesses…services such  as hair salons, nail salons, and spas are vital to the local business mix, and provide thoughtful gift options.

     The first weekend in December brings plenty of holiday magic. Friday evening, December 1 from 6–9 p.m., is the Annual Night on the Town. Bay Street will be closed to traffic and all shops stay open late for your shopping pleasure.The evening will feature live entertainment from local choirs, dance groups and clubs.. There will also be the Lighting of the City’s Christmas Tree and Santa himself will be in attendance.

     On Saturday evening December 2, the Light Up The Night Boat Parade illuminates the waterfront from 5:30–8:30 p.m. Join Beaufort Sail and Power Squadron and Main Street Beaufort, USA as they celebrate another festive holiday season and the magical display of decorated boats ambling up the Beaufort River. Bring the family to watch the enchanted display of decorated boats with holiday cookies and hot chocolate.

     The traditional Beaufort Christmas Parade will be December 3rd at 3:00.  The parade will meander through the streets of downtown Beaufort.  Floats, bands, groups of walkers and personal cars and trucks are expected to participate. Deadline for entries s November 17th.

     Our local merchants offer thousands of products and services from local artists, artisans, farmers, and other producers of celebrated goods. Buying local means more than just supporting merchants–it supports local producers as well.

     It’s also important to remember that if you have grown accustomed to shopping online, you can shop online locally, too. Virtually all local merchants have websites. If a merchant doesn’t have purchasing capabilities on its site, simply call them. You can get the best of both worlds: on line convenience and personal service from people you know. You can even save on shipping by picking up your purchases at your convenience.

     Shopping local has so many advantages,…and with all our local businesses have to offer…why go anywhere else? Shop Local, Shop Beaufort…that’s what it’s all about!

Helping People Realize Their Dreams

story by carol lauvray   photography by john wollwerth

Annette Bryant has dedicated her life to helping people find the home of their dreams. As the broker in charge and manager of the Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners office in Beaufort, Annette leads a team of 30 professional real estate agents in Beaufort and Bluffton, who specialize in helping their clients find the right home in the right community. “It’s critical for us to understand the differences between the communities we serve, so we can help people explore what each has to offer them. We ask our clients what is important to them. Folks who are coming to the area to retire may prefer Beaufort because of its vibrant arts, cultural and educational opportunities and its small town ambiance. Young military families may find that Bluffton better suits their active lifestyles and needs. Once we help clients determine the right community, we help them find a great home there.”

A Lifetime of Real Estate Experience

     Annette attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and took a job in New Orleans after college, later transferring to Savannah. She’s been in real estate most of her adult life. She and her husband, Mark, were homebuilders and developers during the 1980s and 1990s. Annette, who transitioned into real estate full time in 1998, owned a real estate office in Savannah for 10 years. In 2003, Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners purchased her real estate company in Pooler, Georgia and asked Annette to stay on as the manager/broker. She directed the new homes division of Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners, which represented 18 different builders in 24 communities from Beaufort to St. Simons Island, Georgia. While still living in Georgia, in 2006 Annette and Mark bought a home that they planned to renovate on Lady’s Island along the Coosaw River, with the idea of retiring in Beaufort in the future. In 2008, when the recession in new home construction came, Annette decided to leave real estate management and go back into the field with Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners, working with individual homebuyers and sellers. In 2009 she and Mark decided to move to their home in Beaufort full time.

The Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners Difference

     Annette says, “I’ve been with Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners since the company bought my real estate firm in Pooler in 2003. I believe in the firm’s brand and in the real estate tools and systems the company provides to support my business. The resources that Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners offers allow us to focus on giving our clients the best possible real estate services and personal attention. The company’s state-of-the art website connects my realtors and me to a premier customer-relationship-management system that enables us to stay in constant communication with our clients.”

     The real estate industry has changed a great deal in the last 10 years, she states, adding that technology is now at the center of real estate. “Ninety-eight percent of our customers do research on homes and communities via the Internet before they contact a real estate agent. We know that people who want homes in this area are going to start looking online from the North Carolina coast down through Florida. One of the things I love about Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners is its regional presence—the company covers the entire Georgia and South Carolina coast up to Beaufort. We have eight offices throughout that area: Beaufort and Bluffton in South Carolina, and Midtown Savannah, Pooler, Richmond Hill, Brunswick, St. Simons Island and St. Marys in Georgia.” Annette says that an advantage of buying real estate in our area is that the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia are still affordable—growth here has been more stable and steady, versus the frenetic price increases that have occurred in some areas along the coast.

     Annette believes in continual education and training for her real estate agents. She conducts onsite training and coaching in all eight of the Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners regional offices. “I believe it is important for me to stay current and to actively sell real estate and service clients myself, so I can help my agents be effective in those roles,” she says. “It’s a balance acting as the broker in charge for the office and also working in the field, but I love the challenge of fulfilling different roles in the real estate industry.” Annette belongs to the Boards of Realtors and Multiple Listing Services both north and south of the Broad River. She says, “Our real estate firm is successful as a result of the teamwork between our 30 agents and the office staff. My real estate partner, Julieanne Steinmetz, is an expert in real estate lead-development technology and Buyer Agency. Julieanne, Pam Tritschler, our Team Administrator, and my husband Mark, are the glue that makes everything work smoothly,” Annette explains.

     The Beaufort Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners office will be moving to a new location at 2015 Boundary Street, Suite 105, which is located in the Beaufort Town Center adjacent to Starbuck’s, effective December 1, 2017.

A Full Life in Beaufort and Beyond

     Annette says that when she and Mark are not working, they love to kayak, take their boat out on the river, walk on the beach or just enjoy the view from their Coosaw River home. She also admits to being an avid reader of everything from biographies to fiction. The couple has five adult children, ranging in age from 28 to 35, and two of them have followed their parents into the fields of home construction and real estate. Annette and Mark enjoy frequent travel and are planning trips in the near future to Virgin Gorda, the Dominican Republic and Rome.

     Annette Bryant has focused her life on helping other people realize their dreams, while she makes her own dreams come true.

story by marie mcaden    photography by paul nurnberg

Dr. Perry Burrus has seen a lot of changes in the operating room since he performed his first surgery in Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s OR 24 years ago.

     “New technology and equipment are constantly being developed,” he said. “You have to stay up to date to provide the best possible care to patients.”

     This fall, Burrus will do his part to help make much-needed improvements and upgrades to the facility. The general surgeon and his wife, Sarah, are serving as co-chairs of Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation’s 2018 Valentine Ball benefiting the renovation of the Surgical Pavilion.

    “In addition to updating equipment, we’re making changes to improve patient flow,” Burrus said. “It will be a better experience for the patient.”

     The physician and his wife are working with co-chairs Laura and Robert Achurch III to plan the 29th annual Valentine Ball taking place Saturday, Feb. 10, at Tabby Place in downtown Beaufort.

     “We were blown away and honored to be asked to co-chair the event,” said Sarah Burrus, who met her husband at BMH while working as a social worker in its ICU. “Our love for this hospital goes back a long, long way.”

     Sarah was born in the hospital and landed her first job at BMH straight out of college and obtained her master’s degree while working at BMH. Her husband also began his career at Beaufort Memorial after completing his plastic surgery fellowship at the University of Tennessee. Three of their four children were born in the hospital.

     Co-chairs Robert and Laura Achurch also have deep connections to Beaufort Memorial and the Valentine Ball.

     Robert is Beaufort Memorial’s longtime general counsel. His wife has been a Valentine Ball volunteer since its inception in 1990. Over the years, she has served on several committees, most recently co-chairing the auction committee. The couple also has hosted numerous pre-ball dinner parties at their home.

      “The Valentine Ball has become the party of the year in Beaufort,” Laura Achurch said. “It’s a fabulous fundraiser for a wonderful philanthropic organization.”

     To date, the ball has raised more than $4.7 million for a wide range of hospital projects, from the renovation of the ER to construction of the Keyserling Cancer Center.

     Now in its 29th year, the Foundation’s signature fundraiser will kick off Feb. 9 with a Cocktail Affair in Tabby Place. Kevin and Rosemary Cuppia are serving as honorary co-chairs of that event.

     Longtime Beaufort Memorial supporters, the Cuppias have deep roots to the hospital. Rosemary was born at BMH, delivered her three children in its birthing center and was diagnosed with breast cancer at the hospital. The couple served as co-chairs of the Valentine Ball in 1998, the first year proceeds from the fundraiser were earmarked for cancer services.

     “Beaufort Memorial is the lifeblood of the community,” Kevin Cuppia said. “So many people rely on the hospital for their health care, whether they can pay for it or not.”

     The Valentine Ball will follow the Cocktail Affair Saturday night with pre-ball dinner parties at private residences and a black-tie gala at Tabby Place.

     For more information on the Cocktail Affair and Valentine Ball, visit valentineball.org or call the Foundation at (843) 522-5774.

story by cindy reid    photography by susan deloach

Pearls are formed when an irritant works its way into an oyster. As a defense mechanism, a fluid coats the irritant. Layer upon layer of the coating (nacre) is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed. From pain to beauty, the same journey is reflected in Ann-Marie Adams’ new book series with the first volume Word Strings, Pearls of Wisdom for Everyone, Volume 1 released this fall.

     The project represents a body of work curated over a decade and consists of narrative phrases, quotations and genuine thoughts on life in what the author has dubbed “word strings.” Ann-Marie’s previous creative endeavor was an illustration series titled “Aquabet” which transformed letters of the American alphabet into sea creatures. While this project focused on letters, the Word Strings series focuses on using words to tell stories or provide snapshots on life.

The quotes, phrases and longer poetry of the series were composed and published to provide a reference point when it was difficult to place meaning around a situation in life or to express some emotion. Volume 1 in the series wraps around the central themes of community, transition and discourse. “This particular series is most certainly about life passages.      In fact, it purposely seeks to out recognize life’s imperfection.” Says Ann-Marie, “Life is not a perfect circle. It is as important to acknowledge and accept the jagged edges of living as it is the smooth, sleek lines of our every-day existence.”

     Fundamentally it seemed important to understand the use and application of quotes, poems and literary passages, so Ann-Marie conducted survey research before publishing her series to discover why and how people use quotes, poems and literary passages.

     It turns out people read quotes, poetry and literary passages to:

Inspire 76.18%

Offer a new perspective 58.98%

Teach 48.41%

Spur Ideas 43.06%

Have a conversation with oneself. 29.30%

Explain 28.03%

     That quotes, poems and literary passages are useful because:

     They sometimes echo what we know in our hearts to be true 62.55%

In times of hardship or self-doubt, they can be much needed pick-me-up that gets one motivated. 62.55%

They are distinct distillations of larger texts and concepts. 31.47%

They are easy to remember 26.88%

They affirm what one already knows about oneself 20.89%

Transition

Frame: It’s never too late to turn life around and frame a new picture on your wall of life.

Grief: Admit you are plunged in emotion while you pick up the pieces and carry on. There is no success or failure in this. Just be humble enough to welcome in grief.

Hands: By design, you hold the future in your hand, and today is simply a milestone to remind you that you have two hands to grab wonder with.

     The word strings in Volume 1 most certainly reflect a mixed bag of life experiences encountered by living and in dying. The three sections in Volume 1 harken to a time period Ann-Marie spent witnessing her father’s health decline which led to many hospital stays, rehabilitation, moving to an assisted living facility and dying. She says, “Grief and I are very well acquainted. I found framing words around emotions for comfort and inspiration important to processing what was happening around me as well as to simply to acknowledge a state of being, both positively and negatively.”

Community

Place: A physical place may shift and bend with the changing times and trends, but the essence of what makes it wholly a place to return to remains the same. A place is one can always call home even after life pulls you away.

     Three: Things grouped by three, make of these as you please, and know that while things are aglow above us and below, every twinkle and spark is a reminder of the grace and fellowship we share.

December: What’s not to love about a month of stealing kisses under mistletoe, spending time in the kitchen making nog and ramping up the naughty or nice meter? There are elves that do more than sit on shelves.

     “The digital universe offers us the opportunity to connect, have conversations and establish relationships with others. Sometimes sharing is an echo of our own experience, sometimes a much needed pick up or a wake-up call. The digital arena is filled with quotes, poetry and literary passages. It is a collective habit in just about every context to reach out and express our thoughts,” says Ann-Marie. “I wanted to place word strings out there for collective consumption and use. Initially this was done through social shares and blogging which indicated there was merit to sharing my word strings to a wider audience.  The research I conducted simply confirmed that there was a desire for this kind of content in the public domain. I also gleaned present day literary examples that validated the public’s desire to read, use and share in a collective dialogue. Most specifically in the writing of Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, Mathieu Cailler, Rupi Kuar and Lang Leav.”

Discourse

     Quiet: Quiet time spent in contemplation places one on the path in front of him or her. Avoiding silence is a detour.

     Roots: I’ve not always been faithful when the lure of prospects elsewhere seemed far more appealing. I did and do digress. Yet here I am rooted in a way of life bound to meet some end well.

     Storytelling: Life is never ending as long as there is a story to tell. A heart full of memories to share leaves a life in the hands of others to tell.

     Ann-Marie has been involved in numerous academic endeavors and is currently attending law school with plans to teach media law. She says, “My focus over the last two years has been on the acceleration of technology and digital discourse. The use of these channels and tools in the public domain radically impact the nature of fair use, copyright, and trademark as well as freedom of speech and expression. I want to be at the table to discuss how our communications in business and in life continuously shift in an ever-evolving digital landscape.”

Lowcountry Home

     “I am not originally from South Carolina, but I do call it home,” says Ann-Marie.” I am a child of Appalachia, originating in West Virginia with my family home in Tennessee. You see a nod to my family home in Cook’s Valley in the front section of Volume 1 and a thank you in the acknowledgements section to the Lowcountry Women Writer’s group that helped me weed through a great many strings to get to publication.” She continues, “I moved to Port Royal, South Carolina in 2004 because it reminded me of the areas where my family had vacationed here when I was a child. There is significant purpose to my being here. I wanted to be in a place that I recognized as being happy for my family.”

      Ann-Marie says, “My favorite places are definitely the Sands Beach area in Port Royal and Hunting Island State Park. I live just a short distance away from the sands and an easy drive to the state park so I am able to put my feet in the sand just about any day, weather permitting. Coastal life is really about ‘sand time’ for me. My second favorite place is on a porch watching the world go by or simply the local alligator skimming the pond. Just call me Lowcountry porch sitter.”

For further information visit www.wordstringsbook.com.

story by cindy reid    photography by paul nurnberg

Although we live in one of the country’s most picturesque coastal locations, South Carolina boasts magnificent pine forests and mountain country as well. Jewelry maker Laura Davis has tapped into that woodland beauty and created a handcrafted jewelry company called ‘In the Pines.’ Her one-of-a-kind pieces are elegantly wrought and reflect her nature-inspired aesthetic. Laura says, “I love the mountains and forests, and while I do create the occasional coastal-style piece, I always come back to the forest motif.”

     Although she started ‘In the Pines’ in October of 2016, Laura has been working on her craft on and off for years. She says, “I took a metalsmithing course while attending Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and did a little jewelry making at that time. I was also a Geology major initially. I think I have always had an affinity for organic materials.” Laura became an English Literature major and after graduation she went on to a career in publishing, and then established a freelance copy editing business. She says, “They may not appear to be related, but both copy editing and jewelry making require some of the same skills, in that you have to be extremely detail-orientated and have the ability to perform methodical work.”

     After Laura and her husband, Eric, moved to Beaufort, she took a metalsmithing class in Savannah. She says, “I started off in copper, which I liked, and I worked with that for a while.” She continued to hone her craft, creating pieces that include beading and leather working, eventually expanding to silversmithing. Her latest work is crafted from sterling silver and turquoise. She says,   “I am getting more adept at silversmithing and soldering as my work evolves.” Much of her current work is delicately detailed and involves intricate cutouts like pine trees and other forest motifs from sheets of silver. She says, “The meticulous cutting out of the tiny trees with my jeweler’s saw is actually a favorite part of my work.”

     Like many artists, Laura draws out her creations first in her sketchbook, then also references an “inspiration board,” replete with collected objects and interesting finds. The loveliness found in a butterfly, a feather, a sand dollar or a fragile piece of fern, all inspire and inform her creations.

     Recently, Laura created a pine tree and stone pendant. She says, “This is one of my favorite designs and I was able to use a gorgeous piece of Damele variscite. Variscite, like turquoise, is a hydrated phosphate mineral, formed when acidic water trickles through arid ground, leaving behind trace minerals. These little bits of mineral fill cracks and crevices in the ground, leaving colorful veins and nodules that can be cut for jewelry. Unlike turquoise, variscite does not contain copper.”

     Laura’s line of pieces is not exclusively forest-inspired; in fact she used the natural elements of gold, pearl, oyster shell and moonstone for a long coastal-style necklace. “I’m not one to use glitter and glitz but I do appreciate the look of gold in a piece,” says Laura, “and I think the moonstone really sets it off.”

At Home

     Laura and Eric have been in Beaufort for the last three years. Eric is a Marine Corps pilot currently deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier. But military life has long been a way of life for Laura and Eric because, as she says, “We were both military brats, and nothing fazes either one of us. The longest I have lived anywhere is three years.” She met Eric in Geology class in high school. “We were in one class together—Geology. It was the only class we had together but we were both there on the morning of September 11. Both of our fathers were in the Pentagon that morning, and waiting to hear (ultimately good) news created a strong bond between us. But then I moved away and when I was in college he found me on Facebook, so we stayed in touch. Eleven years after our class together, he was living in Texas and I was living in Boston. He invited me to the Marine Corps Ball, but at the last minute he wasn’t able to attend due to work obligations. I traveled down anyway and as soon as I got off the plane, we just knew. We were married one year later and celebrated our four year anniversary this October.” Rounding out their family are two spirited labs, Ellie and Aero.

Heritage

     “My Grandfather was a metal smith and artist as well,” says Laura, “and after he passed away last year I asked if I could have his jeweler’s box of tools. I was already making jewelry and I was very fortunate to get several of his tools and be able to use them in my work.” One tool she often uses is her grandfather’s saw, and she also inherited some stones he hadn’t utilized. “I was able to make a ring for my mom using his stones.” This led her to create her “Heritage Collection,” which sprang from a desire to create pieces that represent each of her aunts from both sides of the family.  “I sent them all a survey so I could gather inspiration and ideas unique to each person. I asked about things like their hobbies and spirit animals and what legacy they want to leave for future generations. “ She says, “One necklace I made for this collection is a quilt square with a tiger’s eye stone, which came about because one aunt is an avid quilter. She had made a carpenter’s star quilt for her friend who was fighting cancer and then later we lost my dad (her brother), also to cancer. I replicated the carpenter’s star for her piece, which was the perfect representation of her caring nature and the struggles we’ve all faced in recent years.”

Beautiful Beaufort

     “I really like Beaufort, it is one of the top two places I have ever lived—the other being Boone, NC. I think of Beaufort as the coastal equivalent of Boone. I like the size, where I can still be close to nature because it’s not a large, overpowering city,” Laura says, “I like the small-town feel and you actually get to know people. But the best part of Beaufort is being surrounded by the great outdoors.”

     The Rising Tide Society, a national organization that connects creative entrepreneurs, was part of Laura’s journey into creating her own jewelry business. She says, “I was commuting to Charleston for meetings one evening a month for six months, and then a chapter got started in Beaufort, which I now lead.” As for the future, Laura says, “I am making jewelry for self-fulfillment and to stay engaged. This time next year I will still be growing the business piece by piece, one collection at a time. My pieces will never be mass produced.”

     Some of Laura’s jewelry pieces can be found at the Beaufort Art Association gallery located at 913 Bay Street in Beaufort, and at the Alderson Artisans Gallery in Alderson, WV, and online at madeinthepines.etsy.com. ‘In the Pines’ can also be found on Facebook and Instagram as madeinthepines.

Story By: Carol Lauvray

Photos By: John Wollwerth

The Cuppia family business, Modern Jewelers, located at 807 Bay Street is a downtown Beaufort institution that’s now celebrating 70 years of service to the community. The story of their business reflects the evolution of downtown Beaufort from the late 1940s to the present day, and is also a story of adapting to the changing times and economic environment in our small, historic town. At the heart of the business are three generations of the family who have owned, managed and worked at Modern Jewelers during most of its existence. Rosemary and Kevin Cuppia, the current owners, recount the history of seven decades of their business and their family’s roots and involvement in Beaufort and the community here.

70 Years of Serving Beaufort

     Modern Jewelers was founded in downtown Beaufort in 1947 just after World War II, by Lester and Virginia Hiers at another downtown location—909 Bay Street. The Hiers owned the business until it was purchased in 1964 by Palmetto Management Corporation, comprised of four business leaders in Beaufort at the time: Lawrence Davis, Jim Rentz, Forrest Jones and Ed Pike. Rosemary Cuppia’s father, Carson Rembert, managed the store when that group owned it. In 1966, Rosemary’s parents bought the business, and so Rosemary Rembert Cuppia has been involved with Modern Jewelers at one location or the other on Bay Street for more than 50 years. She recalls unloading merchandise for the store as a child.

     Rosemary says at the time her parents, Carson and Rosemary Rembert, bought Modern Jewelers, Beaufort had no tourists so the store’s customers were either local residents or people stationed here in the military. “When I was growing up, everyone came downtown on Saturday—it was the place to be. Beaufort had a small-town feel and a real sense of community. In those days, the store sold electric guitars and guitar strings, drum sets, electric shavers, toasters, irons and American Tourister luggage, in addition to jewelry,” she said. “It was in the 1970s that the store transitioned to selling only jewelry and giftware, and during the 1970s and 1980s, we had a huge bridal registry business,” Rosemary added.

     Rosemary attended Beaufort Academy for 12 years. She met Kevin Cuppia when he moved to Hilton Head Island and began commuting every day to attend Beaufort Academy while he was in the 9th grade. They started dating when Rosemary was a sophomore and Kevin was a junior. After graduating from high school, Kevin attended Wofford College for a year and then transferred to the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where Rosemary was going to school. Both earned business degrees as USC. The couple was married in 1981 and lived in Savannah, where Kevin worked at 84 Lumber and Rosemary worked for Levy Jewelers.

     Carson Rembert told his daughter and her new husband of his plan to retire from Modern Jewelers at the end of 1981 and asked the couple to become partners in the store, which they did in 1982. Kevin laughed as he explained, “Then Carson stayed on in the business and did not retire until 1995, when we moved Modern Jewelers to its current location at 807 Bay Street.”

     A transformational event for both Beaufort and downtown merchants, including Modern Jewelers, was the opening of the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in 1979. The Waterfront Park, combined with a much-improved sewage system that cleaned up the river, additional improved city services and facilities, and the preservation of historic buildings, all helped Beaufort become the tourist destination it is today. Rosemary recalls that as a teen, she sat in the front window of the store at 909 Bay Street and watched the construction of the park through the alley across the street. However, at the time she had no inkling of the impact that the park and the other city improvements would ultimately make on Beaufort and her family’s business.

     Although Belks department store and Edward’s Five and Dime left Bay Street in the 1980s and many of the businesses downtown were struggling then, Modern Jewelers increased its inventories as tourists began to come to Beaufort after the Waterfront Park opened and as Dataw Island was being developed by Alcoa in the 1980s. Kevin explained that Dataw Island brought new affluent residents to the area who adopted Beaufort’s downtown and began frequenting its stores. Modern Jewelers even opened a second jewelry store for a time in the Cross Creek Shopping Center in the early 1990s, before deciding to close that store and focus on their downtown Beaufort location.

     During the 1980s, while both Rosemary and Kevin worked at the family business, they were also starting their own family. They have a daughter, Katie Cuppia Phifer (33); a son, Chase Cuppia (32); and a son J. C. Cuppia (28). All three of their adult children live in Beaufort. Katie, who is a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors, is married to Matt Phifer and they have a daughter, Riley, who is 3 ½ years old. Chase is married to Emily and their son, Rhodes, will be 2 years old in January. Chase works as a jeweler at the family store, along with his parents. J. C. works in property management.

     Modern Jewelers has continued to evolve and add new services. In 2004, Stan Hudson joined the business to provide both in-store and in-home jewelry appraisals. Chase Cuppia, the third generation to work in the family business, came to work here in 2008 after graduating from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. His arrival during a down period in the economy provided a new facet to the family business—complete custom design for jewelry. His mentor was local artisan Jim Schroder, who had a shop on Lady’s Island and in downtown Beaufort.

     When you visit Modern Jewelers, you’ll probably meet the store’s mascot, Chase’s 10-year-old English Bulldog-Boxer mix, Woodrow, who spends much of his day at the store. Chase smiled as he related an anecdote about Woodrow, “I saw a 6-year-old girl sitting on the floor in the store one day with a Dairy Queen Blizzard and she was feeding Woodrow. She said she had asked her grandmother to buy Woodrow his own Blizzard!” Rosemary added that Woodrow has quite a following and many folks who come to Beaufort annually on vacation, make it a point to stop by the store to see Woodrow each time they visit town.

Investing in the Community and Treating Customers Like Family

     Rosemary says her family’s continued success in the jewelry business over the years is due largely to their commitment to supporting the Beaufort community and the personalized service they give their customers. “Kevin is a long-time leader in the business community. He served on the Main Street Beaufort board for more than three decades, as well as serving on many other nonprofit boards, including the Boys & Girls Club of Beaufort, Historic Beaufort Foundation, and Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation,” she explained. In addition, Kevin served as the Commodore of Beaufort’s Water Festival in 1996 and he and Rosemary chaired the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation Valentine Ball in 1998. The couple lives on Lady’s Island and they are members of the Sea Island Presbyterian Church.

     Kevin says, “Our business is exciting because we get to be a part of people’s happy moments, like birthdays, anniversaries and engagements. Our customers are like part of our family—sometimes I know that someone is getting married before their parents know,” he explains.

     Everyone at Modern Jewelers is very customer-focused and service-oriented, says Kevin. “We want to do all we can to help people make special memories. Several years ago when the local carriage tour companies were still driving down Bay Street, a young man and I planned a special engagement surprise. He and his girlfriend were riding in one of the carriages down the street and just as the carriage made a stop in front of the John Cross Tavern, I walked over to the carriage and gave him a box with an engagement ring, then he asked his girlfriend to marry him in front of everyone riding in the carriage. She said yes!”

     The Cuppia family’s business, has been all about family and the Beaufort community for decades, and with a fourth generation of Cuppias now coming along, it’s likely that the business will be all about family and the Beaufort community for years to come!