August 2019

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AUGUST| 2019


It’s What’s Inside That Counts

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under the skirt. Wow! What an amazing 60 days I’ve had. As we prepared for the release of the third issue since I purchased skirt. magazine, I found myself reflecting on how my entire life has changed. I am so honored to contribute to and be part of this amazing work. I couldn’t be prouder of a talented group of people who are so brilliant in their professional and personal lives that it leaves me in awe. What a blessing the next feature holds. With the launch of a few new columns, we are delighted to bring our readers even more opportunities for connecting as a community. The editor’s letter has been replaced by “Under the skirt.” as a way for you to get a behind-the-scenes look at what’s happening in my magazine life. “Don’t skirt. the Issue” is being launched as a column for us to share and discuss sensitive and controversial, yet necessary, content for the most important issues we face as a group of women. The “skirt. Spirits” column is a space to highlight and feature our sisters who are creating knowledge from the universal energy that drives our souls and feeds our hearts. The expansion of “skirt. Locals” allows us to feature local women entrepreneurs who are forging their way in our community. I am thrilled to see these stories on our pages and in action as we continue to grow our skirt. community and offerings. Here’s to another wonderful issue celebrating wonderful women!


Paula Dezzutti CEO/Owner skirt. Magazine


skirt . | august 2019

CEO/OWNER Paula Dezzutti PUBLISHER Thomas J. Giovanniello, Jr. ART DIRECTOR Laura Staiano CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Betsy Padilla EDITORIAL INTERN Raegan Whiteside INTEGRATED ACCOUNT MANAGER Whitney Brenkus PHOTOGRAPHERS/ILLUSTRATORS Zheng Chia, Abby Murphy, Pale Girl Photography, Erin Turner, Daniel Velasco CONTRIBUTORS Marcie Anderson, Laighton Cain, Lorna Hollifield, Trey Horres,Helen Mitternight, Angie Mizzell, Amy Nienstedt BUSINESS MANAGER Cassaundra Tebben DISTRIBUTION C&R Marketing, Tina Tartaglia ADVERTISING sales: 843.958.0028 EDITORIAL AND SALES OFFICES P.O. Box 579, Charleston, South Carolina 29402 843.958.0028,


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Skirt is published monthly and distributed free throughout the greater Charleston area. Subscriptions are available through Subscription rates are $24.95 for 12 issues. Back issues may be obtained by contacting the Skirt offices. Back issues are $5.99. All contents of this magazine, including without limitation the design, advertisements, art, photos and editorial content as well as the selection, coordination and arrangement thereof, is Copyright© Holy City Publishing, LLC. All rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Postage paid at Charleston, S.C., and additional mailing offices. Skirt is a registered trademark of Holy City Publishing, LLC. Skirt and are licensed under the authority of Morris Media Network. Printed in the United States. Vol. 25 Issue 7 ISSN 2637-3815 (Print) ISSN 2637-3831(Online) Proudly printed by Walton Press for 25 years!

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skirt. wellness From the Inside Out 6

Brilliant Disguise 14 By Trey Horres

skirt. community High Risk State 8

Wake Up Call By Raegan Whiteside


skirt. essay Trust Yourself

The Creatives An exploration of the 5 senses as modes of expression


Getting Real by Amy Nienstedt


skirt. forward Creative Survival 10 12

skirt. books All About You: 28 An Adopted Child’s Memoir men in skirts. Daniel Velasco 30 skirt. table Jill Mathias of Chez Nous 32 skirt. calendar 36

Not a Bedtime Story 26 skirt. spirits Lost & Found 38 By Hellen Mittenright don’t skirt. the issue 39


AUGUST| 2019

Styled by Andrea Serrano Stylist Assistant Sophia Koetters Hair and Makeup Silouhette on Site DEEP DIVE

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Creative Endeavors AWAKEN YOUR SENSES

on the inside Creative endeavors: This issue explores different ways creativity manifests in our lives. Read about good-foryou beauty inspiration (“From the Inside Out,” p. 6), the healing power of art (“Creative Survival,” p. 10), innovative music collaborations (“Brilliant Disguise,” p. 14) and collaborative community building (“Wake Up Call,”





p. 16). Don’t miss our feature, “The Creatives” (p. 18) which explores how local artists embrace the five senses.


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From the

INSIDE OUT How to embrace your own natural beauty and live with creativity, balance and grace. By Betsy Padilla Photography by Callie Cranford


esign Enthusiast. Skin Guru. Color Specialist. These are the three phrases Sterling Wright uses to describe her personal brand. It’s what she loves, is, and does. On the surface, those descriptors are apt. The luminous blonde clearly knows her craft. But her radiant persona and sweet disposition isn’t something you can paint, prime, or press on. For Sterling (who is currently in residence at DNa Lab, Charleston’s first organic concept salon), beauty is by definition more than skin deep. It’s a mindset and a way of life, and encompasses not just what she chooses to reveal on the surface, but the inner work of listening to the creative voice within and honoring her mind, body and spirit. My intention was to talk shop with Sterling and learn some tricks of the trade. What I got was one of the most heartfelt and honest conversations about navigating life’s ups and downs, her philosophy of self-care (which ultimately translates to self-love), and the dynamic interplay between creativity and balance.

old vintage ‘86 RV (ha!) and right now my creativity is in redesigning that. I feel things like that (buying an old RV to fix up) is something people think you can’t do. I always find when I reach out for approval from others I just get stomped on. This time I didn’t tell anyone about it, I just met a guy named Charlie and bought his RV! I’m inspired by simplicity and confidence. It’s not one or the other, but both together. My tattoo says “She believed she could so she did.” I got that when I was 18 and I still think it’s really cheesy, but it’s really true. I lived in Florence [South Carolina], which is a really small town. I didn’t think I would be able to move to Charleston and work in one of the coolest salons and have this amazing clientele where people love me for what I do. But that’s not who “I” am—that’s just, if you have a voice and a set of skills you can do whatever you want. Everything is a learning curve, and a lot of people let that intimidate them. That’s really ridiculous when you think about it—I mean, I’m going to learn how to insulate an RV!

skirt.: What brought you to DNa Lab and what do you enjoy about it?

skirt.: Talk a bit about “design.”

Sterling Wright: I joined DNa in September 2018. Besides the fact that it’s a gorgeous salon, I love that it’s non-toxic. All of our products are anywhere from 70% to certified organic. As a colorist this is huge. I have psoriasis and I used to be covered in bleach burns from doing highlights and lightening services, but with non-toxic products there’s no ammonia in the color so it’s a more healthy environment for me and my clients.

SW: Design is something I’ve always loved ever since I was a little girl. I had pom poms hanging from every corner of my room and glowing dolphins above my bed (which was actually pretty tacky, but …). I’m an introvert so my apartment is somewhere I can go back to and move things around and make things how I want. Almost everything in my apartment is either thrifted or picked from somebody else. I like to pick out colors or textures, like metals vs. woods, and then put them together so that it’s balanced. With creative people it all comes back to creating balance somewhere, whether it’s emotional balance or aesthetic or how you feel about yourself.

skirt.: What role does creativity play in your daily life? What inspires you and what keeps you going? SW: Creativity means putting your soul into something. I just bought this


skirt . | august 2019

skirt.: Talk about “wellness” and how you incorporate it into your life. SW: Wellness is a give and take. It’s never about making yourself feel bad for not using certified organic or non-toxic products, but trying your best to lean toward sustainability. Everyone has their own personal outlet where they can give back or do the right thing. For those of us in the beauty industry, we try to do the right thing in that realm. But we don’t judge people for not using the best product all the time or making the “right” decisions healthwise. It’s about doing the best that you can and having grace with yourself and other people. skirt.: What are some of your favorite things that you do to take care of yourself and show yourself grace? SW: Getting your body moving in some sort of way is so important. I also try and eat nice and drink a lot of water. I like to steam my face (see the recipe included) then put on raw honey. Honey is good for any skin type. I’m acne prone, so it’s really good for pH balance, but also good for aging and hyperpigmentation. skirt.: I like knowing that there are wonderful things I can do at home and can share with readers who might not have the budget to do some of the high-end treatments. SW: I love at-home stuff. I slather myself in body oils and dry brush before I get in the shower—these random little things that aren’t hard to do. I think beauty is really about getting the muscles activated and moving the skin. It’s all about stimulation. If you do something that shows results in your physical appearance, it’s also going to show up in your emotional appearance. If you get really passionate and stimulated and excited about something, you become more beautiful inside, and so the same on the outside. skirt.: You posted once about “getting real” about mental health and appearance, feeling out of balance, and finally doing something about it. Can you talk a little bit about that journey?

SW: At the time of that post, I had been dealing with a lot of things I didn’t know how to react to. I didn’t know how to be who I was for a period. I found I was suppressing myself, downplaying who I was. A lot of people do that, downplay who they are. You might be very passionate and like things to be a certain way, but you don’t want to want it too much, or want to come off as conceited or vain, or whatever. So you change yourself a little bit, and then somewhere down the road you don’t like yourself anymore. I looked in the mirror and I said, “I don’t like who I am right now.” I have severe, severe psoriasis on my scalp and elbows, and, depending on how well I’m taking care of myself, on my legs. I had been dealing with that and trying to find a solution, and I realized it was a matter of getting back to—in science it’s called homeostasis—that point inside where everything is balanced and then doing little things for myself. For example, I started wearing my extensions again. I curled my hair and put on winged eyeliner and highlighter and I felt really good about myself—that specific day. But I hadn’t felt that way for a really long time. It’s different for everyone. It doesn’t have to be a makeup routine. I think it’s so important to make sure when you aren’t feeling like yourself or don’t like yourself that you get back to the place Sea salt acts as a disinfectant where you do love yourself again. and is an excellent exfoliant. I think beauty is the whole Raw honey is an antiseptic, antipackage, as far as women go, beinflammatory and nourishing. cause women are, in history, deBoth help reduce pigmentation scribed as passionate and crazy. from aging, acne and scarring. The “beauty” in every story—she 1Tbsp Himalayan salt in is wild and crazy and can’t be boiling water tamed. But when women can re2 Tbsp warm raw honey with ally be there for each other they a little squeeze of lemon can find balance. As a stylist, I love when my clients are real In a medium-sized bowl, add salt to with me. I’m not just like, “How boiling water. Exfoliate skin well with are you?” I’m like, “No, how are the salt water over steam and rinse. you? Tell me about your life,” and Apply honey mixture to face for they can pretty much confide in several minutes. Remove with me and I can be there for them. warm washcloth. And honestly, they’re there for me just as much.


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About half of new referrals at the center are for HIV care and half for PrEP, a pre-exposure prophylaxis that Kim says is “like birth control for HIV, it prevents HIV.” Only about 15% of the center’s patients overall are HIV-negative. Kim notes that the center helps everyone who walks in its doors. “Some people may be worried about their residency status. We don’t ask and we don’t care. We just want to make sure you receive the care,” she says.



good until something breaks, and when it breaks, it doesn’t feel good.” The antidote is education, and the upcoming Charleston Pride is one splashy bit of education. Kim says the center started participating in the Charleston Pride Parade five or six years ago, hesitant about how a Catholic hospital like Roper St. Francis would respond. “We asked, ‘Are you in?’ And they said, ‘Absolutely!’” Last year, more than 100 employees from the hospital marched or rode a float. This year, the events

By Helen Mitternight Photography by Abby Murphy

The rise and care of HIV in South Carolina


ou can cast the blame at shame, lack of access or lack of transportation. Whatever the reason, HIV in South Carolina is keeping pace with the state’s high level of other chronic diseases, like diabetes or hypertension. In fact, the Federal government has given the Deep South the dubious distinction of being the new epicenter of HIV, says Kimberly Butler Willis, director of the Ryan White Wellness Center at Roper St. Francis Hospital. The center, a grant-funded department at Roper, has seen a rise in patients seeking treatment for HIV from about 350 a year in 2000 to almost a thousand a year, she says. “We are a comprehensive sexual health center providing services for those living with HIV or who are at a high risk for HIV,” Kim says. “And when I say high risk, you have to understand the epidemic really has come down toward the southeast, so if you are living in South Carolina, that is a risk in and of itself.” According to Kim, the Tri-County area is 26th in the country for


skirt . | august 2019

numbers of people living with HIV, falling between Greenville, which is in the top 50 and Columbia, which is in the top ten. “We have, in this state alone, about 16,000 people living with HIV,” she says. The center, named for the young man who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion in 1984 and became the face for AIDS education, is designed to attract patients and put them at ease. “When you walk into our space, it does not feel like a clinic. It looks like a high-end medical practice, with smiling faces and aromatherapy. We have case managers for all of our patients because we find it’s essential. While the medical care is important, the hand-holding and navigating through the experience is equally important,” Kim says, adding that the center also has a food pantry and a pharmacy so that it is, as much as possible, a one-stop shop for patients. For those who need to get to a specialist, the center has a HIPAA-compliant contract with a ride service.

It used to be that you would always see HIV-AIDS, the two paired as though one always led to the other. In the past decade, Kim says, that has changed. “With advances in HIV medication, people are living with HIV and not AIDS, and we want to make sure we recognize that,” she says. “To hear a diagnosis of AIDS tends to sound like death and dying, while with HIV you can live many decades as long as you take the medication. The life expectancy of someone who is HIV-negative is 78 and, with compliance, with HIV it’s 72.” The compliance is the key. “It’s a gift and a curse,” Kim says. “Our young people don’t see HIV as a death sentence and they’re a little more casual about it and still reluctant to receive care. Older patients tend to be more fastidious about coming in and staying on medication. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the sickest in people between 18 and 30 and more diagnoses with AIDS because they’re not complying with medication. You know, young people think they’re invincible and it all feels

stretch for three days, Sept. 12-14, and the center has partnered with the ACLU and the Charleston Pride Committee to present a forum on HIV criminalization and voter rights, a Twerk & Twirl event, along with lots of education about condom use and HIV prevention. Many of the events, including an after-party the day of the parade, will feature guest appearances by drag performer Latrice Royale, who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race. But, Kim says the education must go beyond that one weekend. “While HIV is going down nationally as a whole, the South and the West remain pretty stagnant,” she says. “So, while we’re not feeding into the increase, we’re not helping with the decrease. You can talk about HIV care and testing more with your family and friend group. Make it a common conversation— if not for you, then for people you love. And you can be tested more often. One out of seven people living with HIV are unaware of their status. Talk more, do more. We’ve got the rest.”

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Creative SURVIVAL The healing power of art By Laighton Cain Photography by Zheng Chia

Warning: This article may cause triggers. I do not speak for the experiences or healing processes of all survivors of sexual assault or rape. I speak on behalf of my own experience and healing process as a survivor, and as a witness to the healing processes of other survivors.


utting words together to describe what it’s like to be a survivor of sexual assault and rape feels impossible, at least for me. I would rather do anything else than talk about it. I will continue to try, but this story isn’t about what happened to me. This is about how I survived what happened to me. I refuse to share anything other than my truth. Doing so isn’t easy, but it’s important. I’ve spent over six years coming to terms with the reality of what happened, and healing from something that I neither wanted, nor asked for. For the first four years, the methods I used to try to heal—mainly ignoring that it happened—didn’t work. I didn’t get better; I didn’t feel better. I didn’t have anything to show for surviving those four years except some gnarly anxiety and some really crappy PTSD. I got tired of being afraid and not feeling in charge of my own body. I had spent six years living in a body that no longer belonged to me because somebody else decided they were going to take it. I didn’t get a say or have the ability to do anything about it. I was left with this anger that manifested into a level of sinister revenge that did not reflect who I was or who I am. I knew it was time to grab the reins of my emotions and handle the reaction to this hell my own way, on my terms, head on. I wanted to heal, but I didn’t know how. I was overcome with feeling every point on the spectrum of anger. I needed something to dump that dark matter onto


skirt . | august 2019

without hurting anyone, anything, or myself. With the help of my partner, and a sense of desperate urgency, I found myself booking it to my favorite locally owned art supply store. A vision of an obscure painting flooded my imagination. I dove into the familiar aisles. I grabbed a big canvas, snagged tubes of various shades of purple paint, a handful of brushes, and a huge tarp. I lugged my loot through the winds of Marion Square, angry and a little scared of what was going to come out of me. When I finally reached my house, I called my mom—my main supporter through it all—to tell her it was time. I was ready. A few months later, I was seated in a deliciously quaint restaurant eating lunch with a dear friend and fellow survivor. As we exchanged personal methods of healing, I reflected on my use of art as a form of therapy. Creating “The Rage” helped me purge layers of repressed emotions in a safe and productive way. It gave me an outlet in which I could share what my experience felt like without speaking, compromising my health, or having to provide an explanation. My parents, partner and friends were able to understand and empathize with me on deeper levels. This creation of art opened my eyes to parts of myself I had forgotten. I uncovered my strength, independence and courage again. I was able to look at myself in the mirror with pride and love for the first time in a long time. Could this be true for others? Art changed my life. But I knew that I, as a

survivor, was unfortunately not an anomaly. I was familiar with the utilization of art as a form of therapy for people recovering from trauma. I figured that if creating art had helped me, it could help survivors at The College of Charleston, too. I decided to direct my strength and passion for art and healing towards helping other survivors. I created an art exhibition, titled “The Art of Survival,” which featured multimedia creations by survivors of sexual assault and rape who attend The College of Charleston. I defined art, for the exhibition, as something created out of emotional, mental or physical response to one’s experience or something related to their experience, which is then shared. This included, but was not limited to, performance art, such as theatrical monologues, dance, instrumental performance, spoken-word poetry, and singing, as well as written stories and poetry, photography, paintings, sketches. The purpose of the exhibit was to provide survivors with a positive and encouraging platform to express and share their emotions, experiences, reactions and healing processes with each other and their community. For the record, I had no idea what I was doing or how to execute it. I had no previous experience with art curation, exhibition design or any other formal area of arts management. However, I was (and am) lucky to have years of experience in the performing arts, and I relied on that knowledge and the incredible network at the Department of Theatre and Dance to get this show on the road. After an initial proposal, I was overwhelmed with support from students, faculty and staff. The more I reached out, the more the College of Charleston community stepped in to make this exhibition a

success. I partnered with multiple schools and student clubs to gain support and promotion. In order to find survivors to contribute to the exhibit, I contacted the Counseling Center and the Office of Victim Services. My partners there sent invitations to survivors in order for them to maintain confidentiality as they submitted their artwork. By the opening of the free exhibition on the College’s campus (April 8, 2019) there were seven artists and fifteen works of art, varying from live performances to paintings. I knew “The Art of Survival” had succeeded when anonymous artists and exhibit visitors reached out to me to share how much creating art had helped them. Like countless survivors, they had a long road of healing ahead of them. Now they had a method to heal, and, because of that, they shared that they had a newfound will to heal. In my case, creating art gave me a new sense of purpose and a renewed sense of self. I do not claim to be healed; I still live with the lasting effects of my experience, including my rage. Art helped me acknowledge that rage and care for it so that it could subside. Art unlocked my ability to move on and be me again.

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FROM “THE RAGE” ARTIST STATEMENT: It started with part of the letter I wrote to the person who caused me this pain ... Finally, I turned to myself. I found my soul, my spirit and my body again ... The peace, serenity and power I feel as I return to myself for the first time in six years materializes itself in strong, upward strokes of violet. As I pick myself up with love and care and acceptance of what has happened to me, I rise with the sun, with the new morning and new life. The only way from here  is Up. This is The Rage. -Laighton Cain


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Thoughts on letting your life unfold one step at a time By Angie Mizzell


few weeks ago, my friend and her two boys came to Charleston for a visit. My three children are about the same age as hers, so my friend and I donned our camp director hats with the goal of making the most of our short time together. As it turned out, summer thunderstorms dictated most of our activities. We spent a lot of time checking our weather apps and coming up with Plan B’s. Which is why, after lightning in the area closed down the waterpark minutes after we arrived, we inadvertently ended up at Chick-Fil-A on Dress Like a Cow Day, which is overstimulating to say the least. On the bright side, a kind (and prepared) mom noticed that we weren’t dressed like cows and gave us a stack of “spots” made out of white construction paper. We taped them to our shirts, and suddenly we, too, were eligible for free chicken. Still, the children were disappointed. My friend and I were, too. We’d imagined a fun day in the sun, screaming down waterslides and floating in the lazy river, but we tried to model how to consider alternatives and move on when things don’t go as planned. That night, when my friend and I were able to steal a few moments to ourselves, our conversation shifted to how women make decisions, especially when the options are cloudy at best. We agreed that we admire women who appear to be boldly decisive and don’t second-guess. This conversation came about because my friend is in the midst of a major life transition. She’s trying to keep her eye on the big picture while circumstances are changing by the day. She’s struggling to stay grounded and clear-minded because there are so many unknowns. Initially, she had some concerns about whether this was the best time to take a trip to Charleston, but the plane tickets were affordable, and the timing worked for both of us. She believed that getting away for a few days would be good for her and her sons, so she decided to go for it. She booked the flights without overthinking it. The decision to not overthink is a notable detail, because neither one of us typically makes a decision that way. Overthinking is something my friend and I have in common.

Lately I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about concepts like “the mental load” and “decision fatigue.” It seems like there’s a name for everything now—I recently saw a meme that said “intermittent fasting” is the new name for skipping breakfast. But defining abstract concepts and addressing the internal burdens that women carry is validating. Acknowledging what we’re collectively up against is empowering. From my overflowing inbox, to managing the needs and the schedules of my family of five; from deciding when to exercise, or whether to have a hard conversation or sweep the issue under the rug; from taking on a new opportunity or respectfully declining that invitation; cooking dinner or ordering takeout—the choices we face each day are endless. Experts say it adds up to about 35,000 decisions per day. It’s exhausting. Decisions become more difficult when there’s an element of risk involved. But if you really think about it, every decision we make is a risk. We can anticipate outcomes based on research or past experiences, but our choices never come with a guarantee. Years ago, when I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, a wise mentor advised, “You’re a smart girl. Trust your heart; it will tell you what to do.” The problem was, I had followed my heart and listened to what I believed my inner voice was telling me, and nothing was working out the way I’d hoped and planned. Instead of trusting how things were naturally unfolding, I kept mentally reversing the clock, trying to pinpoint which decision was responsible for messing everything up. When I shared those feelings with my husband, his response surprised me. “I’ve never approached my life that way,” he said. “If a door closes, I don’t question it. I may not like it, but I assume it happened for a reason. I look for the next opportunity.” “You don’t question it at all? Why is that?” I asked. “I just don’t. Doors open. Doors close. It’s as simple as that.” For me, making decisions will probably never feel as simple as that. But,


skirt . | august 2019


“I began to embrace faith and mystery. I started to understand that life will never work out exactly the way we plan; and perhaps that’s the point.”


“Decisions become more difficult when there’s an element of risk involved. But if you really think about it, every decision we make is a risk. We can anticipate outcomes based on research or past experiences, but our choices never come with a guarantee.” that conversation with my husband did open a door for me. It helped me become more curious about, and less afraid of the unknown. It opened my mind to other possibilities. I began to embrace faith and mystery. I started to understand that life will never work out exactly the way we plan and perhaps that’s the point. Over the years, I’ve adopted all of the mantras: Follow your heart. Trust your gut. Go with your instincts. Do what’s best for you. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no. Although, that last mantra can get me into trouble—just because a decision feels like a “hell yes!” doesn’t necessarily mean I have the time, energy or resources to commit. I’ve also learned that not all decisions are meant to be made quickly, or at all. Choosing not to decide is an option, too. If I feel hesitant, that typically means that my inner wisdom is telling me to slow down. Research professor Brené Brown validates this thought process in her book “The Gifts of Imperfection,” a guide to living a wholehearted and authentic life. In the chapter about cultivating intuition, trusting faith and letting go of the need for certainty, she says, “Sometimes our intuition whispers, ‘Fol-

low your instincts.’ Other times it shouts, ‘You need to check this out; we don’t have enough information!’” Sometimes I do extensive and exhaustive research, feeling like I need to understand every single option available. Sometimes I weigh the pros and cons. Sometimes I pause to determine if the decision lines up with my values. I ask myself: Does the choice feel light or heavy? Like an open door or a red flag? Sometimes when I’m not sure how I really feel, I flip a coin, just to observe my reaction. In the end, no one can make the decision for us. It helps to remember that I can trust myself, and that I can allow my life to unfold one step at a time. This is what I tell my friend. I tell her that she can trust herself too. Because no matter what comes next, she’s equipped to handle it. We are all equipped to handle the “it” in our lives. When the storm comes, when the lightening strikes and the rain pours, we let it come. We can trust ourselves to decide what our next step is going to be. In The end, maybe we get free chicken. And maybe, we get something much more grand.

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t n a i l l i Br

Local sirens pay homage to The Boss


s the lights dimmed, the throaty calls of “Bruuuuuce!” began. A lean 5’ 10” brunette edged up to the microphone on the Charleston Music Hall stage and with a Jersey Girl conviction launched into “Atlantic City.” In true Springsteen-esque style, Krystal Halvorson let her vocals and the lyrics rhythmically drive the tempo, with the music serving only as a melodic guide. When a group promotes a music tribute performance to Bruce Springsteen, you would typically expect to see a front man with the signature torn blue jeans, white T-shirt and a Courtney Cox look alike planted in the front row. However, this night’s “Women & Springsteen” production was a 180 degree departure. Produced by Hazel Ketchum, Lindsay Holler



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and Charleston Music Hall Director Charles Carmody, the “Women &” series pays homage to the most respected and popular male artists throughout music history. The twist of course, is its curated combination of up-and-coming and wellLEFT TO RIGHT: known local female artists LINDSAY HOLLER that are the stars of the show. AND HAZEL KETCHUM “When we first started talking with Charles about doing a women’s music series,” Hazel recalled, 12-bar blues number. It was so transcendental “he was the one who suggested we cover Tom that it took even some of the most ardent Boss Waits. I never imagined trying to sing something aficionados three verses or more before they recas gravely as Waits, so it was a creative experience ognized it. As usual, the E Street Band was on fire. Max, to say the least.” Now in its fourth year, Hazel and Lindsay have Little Steven...well almost. On this night it was the used the series as an opportunity to feature the Hungry Monks and the Western Polaroids that proworks of legendary performers such as David vided the backing accompaniment. At each series Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Radiohead, concert, eight to ten artists typically perform two songs each. And when they aren’t featured front and Sam Cooke. “We always try to have new singers and some and center, they join the back up vocalists. “It’s a tremendous amount of fun for the girls veterans at every show,” said Lindsay. “We are so happy that people come out and support the se- to get together and meet and perform with each ries. You can learn so much exposing yourself to other. It’s almost as fun backstage as it is onstage,” other musical genres, and creatively, you can learn said Hazel. Krystal agreed. “Since we all have our own so much from studying another artist’s music.” Back on stage, Krystal Halvorson geared up bands, it’s very rare that we get a chance to meet for her second song. For this one, selected anoth- socially, much less perform together. To co-creer deep cut and even studied some live concert ate and create harmonies and get to know their footage. “I love arranging and I wanted to cre- personalities...Even though the show is two ate a dynamic flow with State Trooper,” she ex- hours, it always goes by too fast.” Beattie Porter, Zoe Child and Elizabeth Hanf plained. Musically, Bob Culverson added to the rawness with a reverberating slide guitar solo. “It also all took on a couple of Springsteen’s classics was amazing,” Krystal said. “Bob just took it to a and personally spun them into an encore-worthy performance. different level!” “All of the girls put so much time and effort Not to be outdone, Lauren Bevins Cahill of The Lowhills delved deep into character. With into these shows,” Lindsay acknowledged. “They cascading raven curls, she sashayed on stage really dedicate themselves and do a deep dive to wearing a sinful red pleated dress and black make the performance special.” “Once we choose the artist for the next series,” heels. Accompanied by Hazel playing flamenco style guitar, the two delivered a mesmerizing and said Hazel, “the girls start selecting their songs and figuring out how they want to perform them. impassioned interpretation of “Rosalita.” The most entertaining re-invention occurred Then they email the band a sample. They all only when Jess Pennell broke down Springsteen’s pop get together in person two or three times before hit “Dancing in the Dark” into a Texas roadhouse the actual performance.”


By Trey Horres | Photography by Zheng Chia


“ Since we all have our own bands, it’s very rare that we get a chance to meet socially, much less perform together. To co-create and create harmonies and get to know their personalities...Even though the show is two hours, it always goes by too fast.” One of the newcomers to series, Becca Smith of Admiral Radio, mentioned the upcoming performance to her mother, who exclaimed “I had that album on vinyl!” Becca belted out a powerful Patti Smith sounding rendition of “Because The Night.” “For me,” said Becca, “I’m a pretty traditional kind of person and did not deviate too much from my style. But vocally, on that song, I had a lot of fun as I went darker and more sultry.” Charles Carmody has been extremely pleased with the turnout. “This has been our

most successful musical series,” he said. “It’s been a great way to engage and introduce the local female artists to the community.” The next performance of the series is “Women & Wonder,” a tribute to Stevie Wonder, presented by the Charleston Music Hall and the Moja Arts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28. Tickets are $17 in advance or $19 day of show. $2 from each ticket will be donated to the Winward Farm Home for Children. Tickets can be purchased through the Charleston Music Hall box office located on John Street or through their website,


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WAKE UP CALL Host of Charleston’s CreativeMornings on what fills her cup By Raegan Whiteside


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back to the Lowcountry. She also became an organizer of the newly founded CreativeMornings Charleston, created in September of 2014. As of May 2019, Cristy is now the host and lead organizer of CreativeMornings. Even more, she is a mentor of a high school student through the “Be A Mentor” program and a member of Charleston Young Professionals. With all this on her plate, Cristy and her husband still try to find time to go sailing and get out on the water. skirt.: What does creativity mean to you? How does it play out in your daily life and/or inspire you? Cristy Armstrong: In public relations, we are constantly coming up with story ideas on behalf of our clients. We also conceptualize events and try to think about ways to deliver the same message in a different way—so, inherently, the field is pretty creative. My job is about thinking outside the box. I love the challenge of pitching media ideas and seeing if they bite. I work at a company with other fierce fe-

males and we motivate each other to be our best. I’m inspired by my clients’ desires to succeed and make their product or business as successful as possible. We work with companies that we believe in because it makes the hard work worth it. skirt.: Do you consider yourself a “creative?” What does that term/concept mean to you? CA: Yes, I do consider myself a creative. Part of the CreativeMornings manifesto is “Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.” I believe that everyone has something creative they can contribute to the world. For some, it’s obvious and tangible, for others, it’s deep down. I’m a creative thinker and writer. I didn’t get any artistic talent from my painter grandmother. I wish, but I’m okay being a strategic thinker. skirt.: How did you get involved with CreativeMornings and how long have you been involved? CA: I am actually the longest standing team member of CreativeMornings. When I moved here, my boss, Colleen Troy, connected me with Sophie Treppendahl who was in the process of founding CreativeMornings. I joined the team and have been a part of it ever since—so, I’ve been a part of CM for five years.



guess you could say Cristy Armstrong is a morning person. As the current host and lead organizer for Charleston’s chapter of CreativeMornings she pretty much has to be. She also has a desire to make a difference, and she’s doing it one morning at a time—who needs coffee when passion fuels your days? Cristy is a native New Yorker who first came to Charleston to be on the College of Charleston sailing team where she joined the fray in Charleston Harbor. After graduating with a bachelor of arts in communication, she moved back to New York City to work at CW&Co., an events and PR firm specializing in environmental, nonprofit and celebrity clients. She proCRISTY duced and managed galas and ARMSTRONG auctions in New York City, the Hamptons, Deer Valley and Banff, Canada. Cristy was lured back to the Holy City in 2014 and landed a role at Touchpoint Communications, a public relations agency in downtown Charleston with clients in the hospitality/tourism, economic development and enterprise industries. That wasn’t the only position she gained when coming

skirt.: What is your role with CreativeMornings? What do you enjoy most about it?

UPCOMING EVENT: SPEAKER: Nick DeLong, Maritime   Archaeologist DATE: Aug. 23, 8 a.m. LOCATION: TBD in downtown Charleston Visit for more information and to sign up. CreativeMornings is free and open to the public. Tickets go live the Monday before each event. Tickets for August will go live on the CreativeMornigns website at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 19. They usually fill up within minutes, so be ready to log on and sign up as soon as they go live!


CA: I have a desire to make a difference in this city. It’s a place that I’ve chosen to be my home, so I want to help it become all that it can be. This desire motivates me to be a part of local organizations and work with clients who are doing things that matter. CreativeMornings is not your stuffy networking group. It’s a fun, lively and eye opening experience—at least, that’s our goal. It’s meant to make people feel okay about attending an event alone. The hope is that every attendee will meet someone new—maybe a client, connection or even a friend. We invite influential people in the community who are doing great things for Charleston. The point is to highlight someone who deserves the platform. We want our attendees to come in expecting one thing and leaving with a new way of thinking. Every speaker is different and all 204 chapters around the world are interpreting the same theme in a different way. It still amazes me to look out into the audience and see 100+ people each month. We al-

ways have folks on the waitlist dying to get in—some groups in town have trouble getting bodies in seats. We’re really fortunate to have such a supportive creative community that wants to wake up early with us (though Counter Culture’s coffee helps with the early morning event)! Our attendees are passionate, involved and eager to see change and make change in the community. What I love most about CreativeMornings, however, is our team. We are a tight knit group and work really hard, spending countless hours planning each and every event. This chapter wouldn’t be what it is without our rockstar team and community partners. I have to give a special shoutout to Sarah Williams-Scalise and Nicole Labrecque who are my co-organizers and are constantly on a group text with me. We all bring different skills to the plate, and we all have different backgrounds which makes collaborating fun and usually interesting.

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An exploration of the 5 senses as modes of expression SOUND. SMELL. TASTE. TOUCH. SIGHT. The five senses. The main conduits for how we understand and perceive information, core channels for reacting to and communicating with the outside world. Our ears transform waves of vibration into sound signals. Molecules bind to our nose hairs and transmit signals that we recognize as various smells. Our taste buds react to chemicals and stimulate the process for absorbing and processing nourishment. Specialized receptors in our skin alert our brains to the presence of physical matter. Our eyes translate light and interprets it into visual images. The five women in this feature each embody one of the senses and share how they use that sense to creatively express their unique perspectives and experiences with others. On the following pages we explore how each artist embraces, celebrates and shares the creative aspect of one of the five senses with others, getting a glimpse into how that sense lends itself to their distinctive talents and passions. We invite you to reacquaint yourself with the special gifts our senses provide to stimulate your mind and spark more creativity in your own life. photography by Pale Girl Photography styled by Andrea Serrano stylist assistant Sophia Koetters hair and makeup Silouhette on Site

Sound Vikki Matsis

Singer, Founder/Owner, Ohm Radio “Sound is the most universal way to connect with people because you don’t have to be literate or have expensive equipment. All of us are vessels to share our sound. There’s such a focus on singers, but everyone has their own sound to connect with others, whether it’s with words or songs or instruments.”

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Jenna Andrews Owner, Park and Madison Candle Company “Scent is tied to memory. I love hearing stories of the memories that are triggered by a certain smell. That sense of nostalgia is also enhanced by scent, and the right combination can create the most wonderful feeling of walking into your house or your room and feeling like ‘this is my place, this is what it smells like’—it’s home.”

Dress & cape: Unordinary Vintage; Earrings: Penelope Design; Cuff: naked eyes jewelry from Miller gallery


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Ruchi Mistry Owner, Huriyali Juices “Taste is a culmination of stories, culture, what you’re feeling that day. Food from every culture and cuisine unites people and creates an opportunity to gather together and blur boundaries. That’s what taste is: a community experience.”

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Touch Beki Crowell

Vibrational Healer, Creator of Utopia Boutique & Gallery “Touch is a profound and tangible way to connect to life and others. Energy is palpable to me, and when I offer Reiki, a form of hands-on healing, it makes it more tangible for the one receiving the energy, awakening them to the Touch of the Divine, which is the Source of all transformation.”


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Sight Sam Rueter

Painter “When I create something it’s my interpretation of how I see. I’m inspired by forms, the lines of the body, architecture and different shapes that a lot of people wouldn’t normally be drawn to or necessarily consider as art.”

Blue fringe dress: Stella McCartney from Hampden; WhiteMonroe leather On Bela: gloves:gray Unordinary stripe dress, Vintage; Earrings and $76, Pink Chicken cuff: Naked Eyes jewelry from Miller gallery



How an industry dominated by women proves it can make it in a man’s world By Amy Nienstedt


t’s no secret that women play a crucial role in the residential real estate world. According to the National Association of Realtors, 63% of agents in the United States are women and, on a similar note, nearly 70% of interior designers are women. Women are also typically the driving forces behind home buying and renovating decisions. Which is why, when I read about a Realtor mastermind panel in California where nine of the agents on the panel were men, and only one was a woman, I felt the sting of the “good ole boy” system that continues to bear down on us. I mentioned this scenario to a friend of mine—not a Realtor, but a woman who could relate nonetheless. We launched into a back-and-forth of the patronization, gender disparity and sexism women still deal with on a day to day basis, some of it blatant, some of it so subtle yet ever-present it’s like the hum of a lingering headache you forgot you had. As a result of that conversation I was inspired to write about it, both to bring attention to the fact that these issues still exist, as well as to provide a way to relate to the common female experience. However, my story took an unexpected turn. I thought I would write a piece about all those issues I just mentioned, along with my frustration at a work environment where men were still being deferred to in an industry dominated by women. I will write about some of that. But what was revealed to me during this process became just as necessary to acknowledge. In spite of some residual discrimination—which rightly deserves to be addressed for what it is—the real estate industry has proven itself to be an empowering one for women. As much as issues of inequality needed to be discussed, I felt compelled to take the opportunity to celebrate and share this example of women working together, supporting and positively challenging one another (while still working our asses off!). I decided to get my real estate license in 2008. I was 28 at the time and was having a quarter-life crisis. I’d just spent eight years focused solely on raising children and I was debating whether to go back to school for eight more years to become a psychiatrist or go to real estate school for two weeks to become a Realtor. It wasn’t the easiest time to try to make it in real estate, seeing as our economy was worse than it had ever been in my lifetime. But eight years in school and thousands of dollars of student loan debt really wasn’t appealing. Plus, I loved the idea that I could have a career and still be available to my kids for their afterschool activities. I decided to go for it. After a few building years, I was off and running

in real estate. After several years of being on my own, I decided to team up with another agent. Enter Racheal King, my business partner. We had done one deal together years prior to teaming up, so when I was ready for a partner she was my first call. We’ve been together for four years now and it’s such a good fit. We are able to be open and honest with each other, we help each other through tough deals and we still have the same mindset to get the job done for our clients. And this is where my original thesis begins to make way for the one I present you with now. After speaking to some agent friends and colleagues, I discovered that the vast majority of them do not feel like they experience blatant sexism in our industry. That said, most female agents did agree that they’ve experienced some degree of passive sexism from some male agents or male clients, like having to take a completely different tone so they’ll respond the way you need them to. One such client came into town to buy his mistress a small house and proceeded to tell off-color jokes (he told us his girlfriend was Latin “by injection.” Get it?) for most of our tour. Eventually, I politely asked him to stop and once our day of house hunting was over, I never heard from him again. One other exception I found to this general feeling of gender equality was in speaking to a friend of mine who is a broker (mid-management) in a sea of male counterparts. She gave several examples of blatant sexism that she’s experienced, even being asked once if her sluggishness was due to “woman issues.” Her question was, “Why can’t I be evaluated like my male counterparts?” Only about 30% of managerial positions in real estate are held by women. Why? I have a theory. But first, you need to understand what draws women into this business to begin with. In one word: flexibility. The ability to set our own hours means we can juggle and balance work and home life. Going into manager roles typically means being in an office from 9-6 every day, mandatory meetings and you’ve lost your flexibility. Not to mention,


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there usually isn’t much financial advantage to moving into management. You’re giving up your ability to set your own schedule, and also giving up the ability to make as much or as little money as you want. For myself, flexibility translated into being able to pick my two kids up from school every day when they were younger. As they’ve grown, so has my ability to take on more work hours and it’s been a natural and fairly seamless transition from mom first to career first. There is no glass ceiling for me in the path I plan to take. I am my own boss, and I decide how much I want to work and how much I want to make. The only area that I have felt


“ My business partner and I are able to be open and honest with each other. We help each other through tough deals, and we still have the same mindset to get the job done for our clients.”

“ There is no glass ceiling for me in the path I plan to take. I am my own boss, and I decide how much I want to work and how much I want to make.” male counterpart sold a handful of homes, decided it wasn’t for him and moved on to something else. In 2019, we don’t see this type of outward sexism in our JAYME LOGUE, AMY NIENSTEDT, industry, but that doesn’t mean JEN PFEFFER ON A CRUISE THAT sexism doesn’t exist here. We’ve THEY EARNED SELLING HOMES. come a long way, but we have more work to do. This industry provides women with something we are hard pressed to find elsewhere—flexibility. With the slow and steady increase of women brokers in charge, general managers and CEOs, more doors will open and more female agents may aspire to reach those levels of management. Until then, successful female agents won’t be sitting on the sidelines waiting for a man to ask her to dance.


at a potential disadvantage in this business as a woman is when it comes to proving myself to be a worthy competitor to a male counterpart. There is still a stereotype that men should be more skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to finances, negotiating prowess, economics and general business knowledge. Sometimes people seem surprised that I am knowledgeable in those areas, even when they know I’ve been in this industry full-time for more than 12 years. I always approach it as though it’s my client to lose. If I can’t adequately show my value and knowledge to someone better than my competition can, whether it be it male or female, then I don’t deserve to have them as a client. An agent friend told me that when she started in real estate in 1971, the man that was recruited to their office right after she was hired was signed at a 20% higher commission split. They were both brand new, just out of real estate school, but he was valued 20% higher than her because he was male. She went on to build a real estate career spanning more than four decades selling thousands of homes and helping thousands of families. Her

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skirt . | august 2019  25

Editor’s note: This is a serendipitous follow up to a story we ran in December 2018: A Heart for Freedom.




t’s not my story, it’s her story. I’d never want to keep it from her.” Still, the story—not a bedtime story by any means—will keep for a few years. The baby yawns, turns to her mother’s voice with a particularly intent stare for one just recently born. This is Isabella Grace. And, less than a month ago, the womb she was in belonged to a different woman than the one meeting her gaze with a teary smile. Julie Todaro didn’t expect to become a mother so suddenly, if at all. She dedicates her days to Charleston Heart for Freedom fighting human trafficking as their executive director. Now, she sits at a table in a local coffee shop, one chair full of the endless amounts of supplies necessary for getting out of the house with a newborn. She appears a little shell-shocked but her smile when she looks down at Isabella Grace is radiant. Charleston Heart for Freedom focuses mostly on sex and labor trafficking, although human trafficking also includes the sale of humans for organ harvesting in addition to sex trade and cheap or free labor. Several months ago, a young woman who had been rescued discovered she was pregnant. She and Julie became friendly and, in February, the young woman called Julie. “I think this is supposed to be your baby,” she told her. Many women, while touched by the offer, would likely have responded with a hard pass. For Julie, it was a moment of divine intervention. A former victim herself, Julie has few close famiLIVE OAKS ABOUND AT MEPKIN


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ly ties and had given up hoping for a child. “I had been praying for a child and a family. I don’t have those ties and I have so much left to give,” she says. Divine or not, there was still much to do to prepare for this speeded-up adoption. Although she has few family connections, a tribe of friends has stepped in to help her prepare for sudden motherhood, both before the birth and now, as Julie eases back into work. She moved from her tiny one-bedroom apartment, found an adop-

“I had just gotten my living room furniture and I opened the door in a baseball cap and sweats. Thank goodness the furniture was delivered, or she would have thought I didn’t have any furniture!” On June 18, Isabella was born and Julie was the first one to hold her. “I was surprised by how full your heart is,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve ever loved someone so much. It’s weird, it’s only been the last ten years that I even could love, and now this.”

“ I was surprised by how full your heart is. I don’t think I’ve ever loved someone so much. It’s only been the last ten years that I even could love, and now this.” tion lawyer who would reduce her fees, and began the home study program in which the state determines whether she is a suitable parent. And she picked the name Isabella, which means “God is perfection,” in tribute to that divine intervention. The single mother also started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the staggering expenses that are part of the adoption and child-raising process, such as baby supplies and the attorney, in spite of the reduced fees. Julie had just moved into her new apartment when the social worker knocked on the door.

Despite little prenatal care, Julie says Isabella was perfect. Even if she hadnt been, Julie was prepared to love her regardless. “I just really feel this is the baby God gave me, and if something is wrong, I’m equipped to handle it,” she says. She and the young woman agreed to a semiopen adoption which means Julie will give her progress reports on how Isabella is doing and may send photos. Julie says that, in South Carolina, a young woman can not reverse her adoption decision unless she can prove that she was forced to

“ I want to teach her so much more about self-worth and value than I was ever taught. I want to tell her, ‘You are a princess and no one has the right to do something disrespectful.’ So many kids need to hear that. There’s so much talking about something after it happens and not enough building confidence and love. sign her child away or if she can prove that the adopted parent(s) are unfit. Motherhood has proven surprising, especially the weight of emotions flooding Julie. “I cry at everything,” she says, her eyes filling as though to prove it. “I start thinking of the what-ifs and I cry. I look at her and I cry. I cry for no reason. I wasn’t even pregnant, and it’s like I’ve got the hormones!” Maternity has made her fiercely protective toward her baby. “I want to teach her so much more about selfworth and value than I was ever taught,” she says. “I want to tell her, ‘You are a princess and no one has the right to do something disrespectful.’ So

many kids need to hear that. There’s so much talking about something after it happens and not enough building confidence and love.” She is prepared that her daughter will ask questions, maybe about where her father is or how she was born. “I will tell her her story in an age-appropriate way,” Julie says. “She will know about the adoption before she knows about any kind of victimization, but she may ask one day just because of the work I do.” Another yawn, and Isabella Grace snuggles against Julie’s chest, one tiny fist clenched around the neckline of her mother’s blouse. Neither one of them is letting go.

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All About You: An Adopted Child’s Memoir

A heartfelt epic of discovering true identity in the Lowcountry BY LORNA HOLLIFIELD


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“ ...a creatively-told sojourn through lies, redacted documents, southern aristocracy, and most important of all, determination. her manner, and in her blood. She had the innate feeling that she just didn’t quite belong, a hunch that wouldn’t get confirmed for a decade and a half, and after too many lies to count. Her discovery became a trek through the most guarded of secrets with the most powerful gatekeepers, covered in the thickness of Spanish moss and humidity. It became a labored march through locked Southern doors, stranger than fiction, that ached to be recounted in a memoir upon its completion. “All About You: An Adopted Child’s Memoir,” is the humorous and heartfelt epic of Liz’s journey to discover her true identity in both the figurative and literal sense. This book is a creatively-told sojourn through lies, redacted documents, Southern aristocracy, and most important of all, determination. And that makes it the perfect August pick. However complex the story becomes, the book remains breezy, and an ideal option for that final summer read by the ocean.



ugust is skirt. magazine’s creatives issue, and I’ve been thinking about it for a good while now. I wanted to bring you, the readers, something a little more unique than just the standard sunny summer read. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we need a good boy-meets-girl-by-the-shore love fest. But, to finish out the summer, I think readers find themselves craving something that sticks like residual saltwater to the skin … something that will linger on when the days grow cooler again. Most good books come from vibrantly creative minds, but in the interest of particular creativity this month, I’ve rustled up something a little bit different, and I found it right here among the eerie cobblestone streets of Charleston. About a year ago I had the pleasure of meeting Liz Butler Duren, a renaissance woman of sorts. She’s a local author, theatre actress, tour guide, photographer, and perhaps most notably, descendent of the history-steeped Legare family (like the road signs, politicians and names on all the headstones). She is terribly interesting in every way—kind of oozes it, really. However, the first thing I noticed about her was the first thing everyone notices: her striking blue eyes of the most distinctive tone, odd and beautiful, and as deep as the marsh at high tide, with equally as many treasures lurking under the surface. And so begins the delicious little mystery beyond the blue… Liz discovered early in life that she was nothing like her family—not only because of her one-of-a-kind eyes, but because of something in

“ Her discovery became a trek through the most guarded of secrets with the most powerful gatekeepers, covered in the thickness of Spanish moss and humidity. It became a labored march through locked Southern doors, stranger than fiction, that ached to be recounted in a memoir upon its completion.� The story was so well-received upon its release that it was turned into a one-woman show, performed by none other than Liz herself. She was even featured during the prestigious Spoleto Festival, and will be applying to many more in the months to come. This project is a sensation in the making that simply cannot be missed, especially here in Charleston, where humor,

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heat and hauntings are a way of life. I urge you all to support this local author that teems with star-power, and ride along with her as she sets out to find that other-knowing, secretive, and oh-so-distinctive set of blue eyes. You can follow Liz Butler Duren on Instagram @lizbutlerduren, or Facebook. Her book can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple Books.

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or this issue’s installment of “Men in Skirts,” we decided to turn the attention on one of our own. For the last couple of years, Daniel Velasco, Venezuelan born fashion illustrator and visual artist, has been creating dreamy watercolors for our “Don’t skirt. the Issue” column. Providing thought-provoking images to accompany the figurative language that rises from that column’s page, however, is merely a glimpse into his prolific collection of work. Daniel’s impressive portfolio includes an array of commissioned designs for the likes of Johnnie Wujek and Sherri Hill, Shady Zeineldine and Kate McDonald, MR and VULKAN magazines, as well as a number of ongoing collaborations with local designers, museums and publications. Since receiving Charleston Fashion Week’s People’s Choice award in 2015, Daniel has made Mount Pleasant his home and continues to find inspiration among the cobbled streets of the Holy City. I chatted with Daniel recently during his summer teaching residency in Philadelphia at the Moore College of Art and Design. It became immediately evident that the vibrant and splashy designs he paints are direct translations of his equally passionate personality.

TRUE INSPIRATION Visual artist Daniel Velasco reflects on his journey into the world of fashion and design By Betsy Padilla | Photography by Erin Turner skirt.: How did you get started in the art world, and what lead you to fashion illustration? Daniel Velasco: I went to school [in Venezuela] for a BS in social communication with a minor in graphic design, so I’ve always been interested in and working in the illustration side of things. I started out doing illustrations for magazines and newspapers—politics, economics, humor …I also drew for IT management and science publications —so a lot of different sources. The first job I had was for an editorial company that produced textbooks. It’s funny how you see your


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life backwards and you can see how if it wasn’t for this thing that happened here, later on I couldn’t have been able to do what I’m doing now. That textbook job actually trained my eye, without me knowing or actually understanding how great that trained eye was going to be in the future for printed material. Later, I started working as an art director for advertising. Then, two of my good friends from high school called me up one day with the idea to co-found our own advertising agency. Parallel to that I was also teaching classes for Universidad Monteavila [in Venezuela]. That’s something

I’ve always been very passionate about is being in the classroom. I love teaching. It inspires me, it keeps me on my toes. I love the fact that you have to be studying constantly. And you get great feedback from the students—I get from them as much information and knowledge as they do from me. I loved being a student as well. I wish I could be a student my whole life! I have a passion for knowledge and information. The more you know, you know you don’t know anything. I got a scholarship to SCAD and signed up for the MFA with a minor in dimensional illustration. Halfway through the program, my de-

“ My fashion professor was tough as nails, but what a wonderful professor! She took me under her wing and completely shifted my perspective. From that moment on I switched completely to fashion illustration.” partment chair suggested I take fashion drawing classes, so I took Advanced Sketching for Fashion the next quarter. I did this without knowing really anything about fashion. I just hadn’t been interested in it, not because I didn’t like it, I just didn’t know anything about it. My fashion professor was tough as nails, but what a wonderful professor! She took me under her wing and completely shifted my perspective. From that moment on I switched completely to fashion illustration. I had to redo my portfolio completely with entirely brand new work. I had to take all the years of my old work and leave it behind and start over with a whole new body of work. And luckily so, I guess because, well, here I am talking with you! skirt.: What does your portfolio consist of lately? Who have you worked for that you find especially memorable? DV: I’ve had the opportunity to work for Johnnie Wujek, Katy Perry’s personal stylist. I designed her Cheetos halloween costume—it’s so funny, that of all of the things I’ve done, that’s the one that people are always most excited to hear about! The pinnacle of my career has been the Cheetos costume! But you know, Cheetos have many different shapes, and that costume took like, I kid you not, 12 illustrations to get the perfect look. Johnnie [Wujek] was like, “No, no, no, make this bigger,” or, “more of this.” I actually bought a bag of Cheetos and laid them out on the table and drew them then added her inside them to visualize the costume! I also did a costume for the opening of her Prismatic tour, the one where she’s wearing a lion face on the chest, and I did a dress that she wore at a Super Bowl afterparty. The dress looks like a football—brown sequins with football laces down the front. We [Wujek and I] did dresses for Bella Thorne and Sherri Hill. [Sherri Hill] is huge in evening wear dresses and the big-

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gest distributor of gowns in the US—Miss Universe, Miss America, prom dresses…I’ve also been published in New York City and internationally, as well as locally. I do many local collaborations. skirt.: Speaking of local, what brought you to Charleston? DV: What brought me here was Andrea Serrano. She is a fashion curator here in Charleston and I was a designer for Charleston Fashion Week [2015]. She was one of the judges. She learned that I could illustrate and was like, “Oh my gosh, I would love to collaborate with you!” So we started talking and she was so warm and amazing, so I was like, “Yeah, sure!” We started working together and she is one of the main reasons I moved to Charleston. skirt.: Who or what inspires you? DV: Oh gosh, so many things! Teaching inspires me. Watching fashion shows and seeing them in person is a wonderful source of inspiration. The human body is inspiring as well, and I also love botanicals. In fact, right now I’m working on a series that blends human and botanical figures. Women are a huge inspiration for me as well. And film, I love film—gore, thriller, classic Hollywood, international films—there’s a great source of inspiration in movies. Books, of course. I love short stories of sci-fi and horror. I love Stephen King and authors that write small stories that require so much technique and skill for craft that it has to be condensed in the smallest format, so it’s just packed with imagery. skirt.: Do you have a process or routine you like to follow? DV: One of the habits I have is a sketchbook. I don’t carry it around 24/7—I’d rather be present during a conversation, for example, but I do have moments where I will walk around with my sketchbook. Especially right now that I’m in a big city [Philadelphia]. It’s so full of art and figures and buildings. I like to take time to do that, just sit down and sketch what is around me or

go to the museum and draw one of the sculptures. A friend of mine said to me, “True inspiration is when you are lost in your work.” That happens to me if I am doing a painting, and it usually happens when I am drawing. You get lost completely in your work, and that means that you see the clock and it’s 5 p.m. and when you see it again it’s three in the morning. You don’t even know that time has passed. I do believe that it is when you are completely lost in the work so intensely that the time passing is not even an issue; you don’t even care about stepping away to eat a little or get a drink of water, you’re just there lost in your work. Surrounding myself with books is important to me. I have a lot coffee table books with lots of images. I love having them displayed where I’m working, for example in my studio or my house in Mount Pleasant. I have them there so if I want to take a break or get an idea I can pick one up and go through it. I like that better than going on Pinterest or Google. I would rather have the physical interaction with the book, the feel of the pages on your hands and the smell of the ink. skirt.: What are working on currently? DV: For the summer I am teaching at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. I’m also currently working for Kate McDonald and Ibu Movement. In July I did a workshop at the Charleston Museum. I did a couple illustrations and a dress for them back in March for their “Reimagined Fashion” exhibition. I donated the dress to [the Museum] and it’s there right now as part of the “War on Fashion” exhibition, which I thought was wonderful. I was so deeply touched that they used my dress. It’s the first one when you enter the room. Everyone in Charleston has been so welcoming with arms wide open. I only have wonderful things to say about the city.


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A Small Restaurant Grows Big Ideas Jill Mathias talks Chez Nous and how they remain unique BY HELEN MITTERNIGHT


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“ Chez Nous is not for everybody. It’s simple, homey, rustic. For some people, it’s outside of their comfort zone that they don’t get to have more choices for dinner. Most people love it, but there’s always a handful who don’t.” go into either a reach-in cooler, a reach-in freezer or one of two low-boys. But, Jill says the space limitations restrict how much food she can buy in a good way—Jill is dedicated to eliminating food waste. “It affects how we plan the menu,” she says. “If we have a braised meat, we know that later in the week we’ll have that meat in a ravioli or a ragout. Or, if we have salad one day, we’ll do a different thing with the greens the next day. We very rarely have proteins left over, so a lot of it is usually produce-driven.” As Jill gets ready for her vacation, she encourages her staff to take the time to learn and be inspired as well, and she intends to bring the knowledge she gleans back home with her to share. “I can’t be upset with their performance if I’m not giving them the tools to be successful. I want them to keep growing in that sense.” That opportunity for growth is what’s keeping Jill at Chez Nous. But the growth she’s seeking is educational; she’s happy with the intimate size of Chez Nous. Chez Nous is at 6 Payne Court in Charleston.



xecutive Chef Jill Mathias of Chez Nous says that the tiny restaurant isn’t for everyone and she’s just fine with that. For one thing, the place closes for a couple of weeks in the summer. In fact, by the time you read this, Jill and her husband, who recently left Chez Nous to open tapas bar Malagon, may be traveling to Rome and the South of France. Jill will be clutching a notebook to record anything that inspires her and revisiting the sources of the food she offers at Chez Nous, mostly French with influences of Italy and Spain. “It’s very European to close down. For us, it’s a good way to give everybody a break,” she says during a conversation in the brief lull between lunch and dinner service. Chez Nous sits in a tucked-away alley and Jill’s attention to authenticity makes it feel like the alley starts in the Holy City and ends in the City of Lights. Upstairs and down, the historic Charleston house seats only 36, with another 20 on the patio if the weather is nice. Diners can easily eavesdrop on neighboring tables and the intimacy can make you feel like you’ve stumbled into a French bistro, far from the Charleston tourist trade. Another contrarian practice is to offer only two appetizers, entrees and desserts every night. The limited menu, which changes daily, is scrawled in Jill’s sometimes illegible handwriting. “We joke all the time about my handwriting,” she says. “[Chez Nous] is not for everybody. It’s simple, homey, rustic. For some people, it’s outside of their comfort zone that they don’t get to have more choices for dinner. Most people love it, but there’s always a handful who don’t.” The menu, drafted on Sundays for the upcoming week, is dependent on what local purveyors have. Sometimes, for example, berries that were planned for a dessert change depending on what’s ripe that week. The kitchen is miniscule—there isn’t room for a walk-in refrigerator, so supplies



McCrady’s Tavern closed at the end of July. The closing of the property closely associated with celebrity chef Sean Brock, who decamped to Nashville, is one more sign of change in the wake of Brock’s departure. The adjacent McCrady’s, the fancy tasting menu restaurant, will stay open. BASIC KITCHEN

Duck ramen? Pad Thai? Paella? Check, check and check at Dashi, open now at 1262 Remount Road. Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails is open in Mount Pleasant at 735 Coleman Boulevard. Small bites and craft cocktails are the specialties.


It’s hot. Who wants to cook? The seafood fine dining Establishment is introducing in-home dining and catering. Menus are custom and were designed after a conversation with executive chef Matt Canter and events coordinator Shane Diviney.

Michael’s on the Alley has closed. The space will open in the future with a new concept, according to Holy City Hospitality, which owns Michael’s and the other restaurants on Hutson Alley.



Basic Kitchen has a new chef, Robin Hollis. She’s keeping a lot of the favorites from the healthy menu, but she’s adding some new dishes like roast chicken with sweet corn polenta, cherry tomatoes, shishitos and chimichurri, and waxed beans with arugula and toasted sesame dressing.


We’re singing for joy because opera-singing chef Robert Dickson, owner of the former Robert’s (closed in 2010) is back to host three dinners, Sept. 13-15, at St. James Church on James Island. The dinners are a fundraiser for the church’s choir. Only 40 people per night will get a six-course dinner. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased by calling 843.714.9502.

When a basic frosé isn’t enough, check out Mex 1 Coastal Cantina. They’re adding a split of prosecco or sparkling rosé to the blend of rosé, rosé vodka and strawberries.


When you eat a salad, do you feel like you’re not quite…Southern…enough? Problem solved! Now you can get a salad with croutons made of… wait for it… BISCUITS! Verde and Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit are teaming up for a limited time to present the Hot Little BBLT, a salad that has lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, bleu cheese, bacon, buttermilk dressing and croutons made of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits. The concoction is available as a salad or a wrap and it helps reduce food waste by turning excess biscuit dough into croutons (you mean people don’t just eat their leftover biscuit dough?).

Highwire Distillery, home of Hat Trick Gin and heirloom corn bourbon, is growing. The distillery is moving to 311 Huger Street in early 2020. They’ll be hiring more people and expanding the amount of room they have for tastings. They’ll also have an outdoor area and room for more production. Late-night munchies? O-ku is bringing back its late-night menu every weekend from 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. All the munchies are $10 or less.


Monza Pizza Bar on King Street was named #50 in the Top 50 Pizzerias in North America by a panel pulled together by the prestigious James Beard Foundation. It’s the only one in the state to make the list.




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events AUGUST

Come celebrate the diverse creativity in Charleston at fun and local events. From musical experiences like Reggae Nights, Moonlight Mixer, Shaggin’ on the Cooper, a tribute to the legendary Elton John, or a night on the water like the Jam on the

08.02 Reggae Nights Summer Concert

Nothing gets you more relaxed on summer evenings than a Reggae Nights Summer Concert. Join the well-known band Mystic Vibrations and get ready for good times and great vibes. All are welcome to bring chairs or blankets for this last night of the summer concert series. Tickets are $10 for ages 13 and up; free admission for ages 12 and under. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. Music begins at 8 p.m. James Island County Park. Visit YOU GO GIRL BRUNCH

08.03 You Go Girl Brunch

Are you an entrepreneur? Are you constantly working and giving your business all your time and dedication? Then you deserve this brunch of celebration and networking with your fellow business leaders. This brunch, now in its third year, was designed to show entrepreneurs appreciation and celebrate all the hard work they do to provide services to the people in their community. Tickets range from $20 to $100. 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. 7910 Dorchester Road, North Charleston.

08.05 The Summer of Potter: Deathly Hallows Part 2

Step into the Wizarding World at Charleston Music Hall on this last night of the summer-long event. The Music Hall is fully decorated and a Harry Potter themed


skirt . | august 2019

art exhibit will also be on display, with the bar serving Harry Potter themed treats. Feel free to dress up in your Hogwarts House robes or as your favorite character and be on the lookout for prizes, surprises and trivia. Tickets are $8. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and each film starts at 7 p.m. Charleston Music Hall, 37 John Street. Visit

08.07 Winedown Wednesday at AR Workshop

The new and improved girls night out has arrived! Come into AR Workshop and customize your own wood project with a group of your best friends and a bottle of your favorite wine or case of your favorite beer. Whether you’re creative and artistic or not, and whether you want to keep your project or give it as a gift, this night out will allow you to relax and have fun in an intimate and comfortable environment with friendly staff. Prices vary. 6:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. AR Workshop, 280 W. Coleman Boulevard, Suite B, Mount Pleasant. Visit

UNTIL 08.08 Family Tours at the Aiken-Rhett House and Nathaniel Russell House Museums

Take the family out for a day of experiencing fun and history in Charleston. Families can take part in a guided tour of the Nathaniel Russell House on Tuesdays and the Aiken-Rhett House on Thursdays. But, the fun doesn’t end there! Activities, historic games and historic toys will also be a part of this special family outing. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children 6-16 and free for children under 6. Tours start every half hour between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Nathaniel Russell House Museum, 51 Meeting Street; Aiken-Rhett House Museum, 48 Elizabeth Street. Visit


08.10 Shaggin’ on the Cooper

Get out your dancing shoes because the Shaggin’ on the Cooper series is back. Vinyl Daze will be performing and beverages will be available for purchase on site. All ages are welcome to come dance in the open air under the stars. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 on site. Gates open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 8 p.m. Mount Pleasant Pier, 71 Harry Hallman Boulevard. Visit

08.15 Gay Bingo

Mad Hatter’s Ball is the theme for this year’s Gay Bingo night and all are welcome to join in the fun. Prizes will be given to bingo winners while proceeds from the night will go to Palmetto Community Care for its programs and services in helping those living with HIV in the Charleston area. Not only will this event help Palmetto Community Care continue their work helping those in our community, LGBT and straight, but it will also raise awareness of the still prevalent epidemic. So, wear your best Mad Hatter costume and join Patti O’Furniture, the returning hostess, and the Divine Divas while bringing your best bingo game. Ticket prices vary. Doors open at 6 p.m., VIP Reception starts at 5 p.m. Charleston Convention Center, 5000 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston. Visit

08.16 Jam on the Water Concert Cruises

Enjoy a night on the water with live music from your favorite local bands. In August, Classic/Outlaw Country by Piedmont Boys (08.16) and Jimmy Buffet by Folly Pirates (08.30) will be performing. While on the two-hour cruise aboard the Carolina Queen you’ll see some of the most beautiful, well-known sites of Charleston like Fort Sumter, USS Yorktown, The Battery

and The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. There will be a bar available on the boat for drink and snack purchases. Tickets are $25 per person. Board at 6:30 p.m.; Cruise is 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. The cruise will leave from Charleston City Marina, 17 Lockwood Drive. Visit

Folly Beach Moonlight Mixer

The summer season is here which means the Moonlight Mixer series on Folly Beach is in full swing! Enjoy a night out with the family, your significant other or a group of friends as you dance the night away with DJ Jim Bowers. All are welcome to bring chairs, but leave your drinks and coolers at home. Beverages will be available for purchase on site. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 on site. 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. Folly Beach Pier. Visit SUMMER WINE FESTIVAL

08.17 Charleston Summer Wine Festival

What more could you ask for than live music, souvenirs, wine and beer? You won’t want to miss this first-ever event in Charleston with over 50 wines and a selection of beers as well. You can even escape the summer heat by stepping into the air-conditioned venue while there is an additional patio outdoors. Tickets are


blast while creatively enjoying the end of the summer season.


Water Series or Sunset Harbor Cruise, you’ll be sure to have a

$45 in advance, $50 after Aug. 8 and $60 on the day of event. 6 p.m. - 10p.m. Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain Street. Visit

5th Annual Chics of the Sea Fundraiser

Help support the Fisheries Fleet by joining in the fun at this annual fundraiser filled with live music, an open bar, lowcountry boil, art, great views of the Charleston Harbor and more! The goal of this year’s fundraiser is to raise money to provide the Fisheries Fleet with an Aflac Accidental Life Insurance Policy. Ticket cost includes entry into event, food, drinks and endless fun. Tickets are $100. 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. Harborside East, 28 Bridgeside Boulevard, Mount Pleasant.

08.19 Back to School Family Crafternoon Workshop




Before school starts back up and your kids become busy with homework, activities and friend hangouts, take them out for a night of crafts and fun family time. AR Workshop will be hosting a DIY class for families where kids and parents alike will be able to make and customize various wood projects including plank wood signs, Lazy Susans, wood photo frames and more. You can even bring your own wine or beer to sip on throughout the night. Prices vary. 12:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. AR Workshop, 280 W. Coleman Boulevard, Suite B, Mount Pleasant. Visit

carry out. No clothes to swap? No problem —join these ladies anyway! Unclaimed clothing gets donated directly to local nonprofits or saved for the next swap. Free admission. 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Workshop, 1503 King Street. For more information contact

08.23 Rocket Man: A Tribute to Sir Elton John

You’ll be “feeling the love tonight” when you go to this tribute show celebrating the legendary Elton John performed by the Columbia, SC based band Tokyo Joe. It’s not required to be “Bennie & The Jets” or a “Rocket Man” to go to this performance, you just need to have an appreciation for great musical talent. If you weren’t an Elton John fan before this show, you’ll definitely be one after. Tickets range from $15 to $25. Doors open at 7 p.m. Music starts at 8 p.m. Charleston Music Hall, 37 John Street. Visit

Naked Lady Society Clothing Swap


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What better way to celebrate the end of the summer season than with a sustainably caught seafood meal and a refreshing local brew while looking out at the beautiful Pavilion courtyard at the Middleton Place Restaurant? The answer is, there is no better way! No admission fee. 6 pm - 9 p.m. Middleton Place Restaurant, 4300 Ashley River Road. Visit

Sunset Harbor Cruise Fundraiser

08.22 The Naked Lady Society presents another fabulous clothing swap! This free event will be held inside the cafeteria at Workshop, where food and drinks from the featured kitchens are available for purchase. Open to women of all ages, shapes, styles and sizes. Simply bring one grocery or tote-sized bag of clean, wearable women’s clothing, shoes, or accessories (please no undergarments). Wander the swapped goods and take home as much as you can

Hot Nights in the Holy City at Middleton Place Restaurant


08.25 Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’

Want to branch out from the CharlesXXX ton area? Want to help homeless single mothers and their children? Want to eat as much ice cream as you can? Then venture down to Georgia for a fun and family-friendly day. This 15th annual event will be benefiting The Drake House, which provides support to homeless single mothers and their children in North Metro Atlanta. The event is one you and your kid(s) will look forward to with over 100 flavors of homemade ice cream, face painting, fun contests and a bouncy house. Tickets are $7 each or 5 for $30. 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Roswell Square Park, 610 Atlanta Street, Roswell, Georgia. Visit

Imagine enjoying drinks, music and hors d’oeuvres while sailing in the Charleston Harbor and raising money for a good cause. This can become reality! Come aboard the Palmetto Breeze for a sunset cruise while donating to the Charleston County Parks Foundation’s Pass It Forward Project that hopes to give community members who confront obstacles the opportunity to access parks, programs and services. Tickets are $75 per person. 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. Boarding will begin at 4:30 p.m. from the dock at Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant by Red’s Ice House (100 Church Street, Mount Pleasant). Visit

South Carolina Reggae Jerk and Wine Festival and Exhibition

Wine and wine presentation, jerk and cooking demonstrations, live music, Jamaican food, art, games and walking tours of Magnolia Gardens -- this festival is an amazing experience filled with culture and fun. But there’s more! The festival’s proceeds benefit the Healthy Lifestyle Network, an organization that helps children and adults by hosting women and girl’s conferences, summer camps, health programs, providing education to prevent childhood sexual abuse and more. To further help, donations of school supplies, soccer balls, art supplies and other items will be accepted. Ticket prices vary. 12 p.m. - 7 p.m. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, 3550 Ashley River Road. Visit

08.26 Artsy August

Want to support local artists? Want to celebrate the arts while drinking wine, eating food and networking? Then come to Uncork with local author (and skirt. book reviewer) Lorna Hollifield and four other vendors to get the party started! The first 20 to arrive get SWAG bags full of prizes. Free admission. 6 p.m - 9 p.m. Uncork, 476 King Street.

08.30 - 09.01 The Lowcountry Jazz Festival

The 11th Annual Lowcountry Jazz Festival is back and better than ever! This three day event begins with an All White Party Affair on Friday (08.30) and continues on Saturday and Sunday with Grammy award winners and nominees, chart-topping genre icons and up-and-coming artists all performing smooth jazz. This festival is not just a musical experience, however. It’s also a fundraiser for Closing the Gap in Health Care, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to decreasing health imbalances and increasing health literacy, especially for African Americans in our community and nation. Ticket prices vary. Festival runs 7:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. each day. Charleston Gaillard Center, 95 Calhoun Street. Visit JERK AND WINE FESTIVAL

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You know your FAMILY. We know SENIOR LIVING. Together, we will find the RIGHT PLACE. LOST FOUND


A guru’s path to healing, faith and loving what is BY MARCIE ANDERSON


wouldn’t describe my life at all like the was pissed off at God for taking my brother. book “Eat, Pray, Love,” though there are I was completely dismayed at the repeated empty answers that the some similarities. priests and nuns would Mine has been more give in response to my like, “Can’t Afford to Eat, questions around my Plea Bargain with God, brother’s death, which Try to Love Again.” The always led nowhere similarities being, I did and always resulted in spend ten years in India me having to do ten with my teacher to earn Hail Marys. my degree in Eastern Fast forward 23 psychology & meditayears. I moved from tion, despite the maOregon to Los Angejority of my friends les to pursue various and family who careers. I was newly disowned me for inspired at the possibilit. I meditatities of what lay ahead, ed—a lot—and but my rosy outlook got I did regain connection to Source and uncon- gut punched by L.A., and a maniacal rollerditional love, but not in a story- coaster of events ensued. I blew my knee out, thanks to a botched modeling audition, then book fashion. At the end of the day, I’ve my agency dropped me because I was now been blessed with so much: “no good” to them. I became quasi-homeless good genes, a mercurial sense living out of my car and on various people’s of humor, athletic prowess, couches for a few months, contracted an upan entrepreneurial nature, a per respiratory infection with pneumonia, all handful of true, loyal friends while trying to juggle three part time jobs and and family that love me, not to living on roughly $5 a day. At this point, a Hail mention an amazing daughter. Mary wasn’t going to cut it. For the sake of this article I’ve condensed I’ve met and worked with famous actors, musicians, athletes, and my experiences and challenges in order to CEO’s, thanks to my multidimension- provide you at least a faint whiff of the rich al careers in acting, modeling, person- fragrance of my life. Now, for the pearls of al training, yoga and now my company, wisdom I have learned and can expertly share Corporate Wellness Consultants. I’ve with others, you ask? There are far too many, lived a colorful life and I am grateful. So but here are a few: 1) Listen to and follow your why did I give up the glamorous life I had intuition. 2) Challenges and obstacles are spiritual and human lessons, not punishments. 3) been living in L.A. to go live in India? When I was three years old, my oldest Be love; give love; live, eat and breathe gratibrother, who was seven at the time, was di- tude—you are loved more than you could beagnosed with leukemia. He suffered horri- gin to imagine! Remember: When the student bly for years and just after he turned 12, we is ready, the teacher will appear. ! We’reofpaid our partner Marcie Anderson holds her degree in Eastern shared the experience hisbypassing. My communities mother took his death incredibly hard—my Psychology and Meditation from ten years spent parents’ marriage became strained, to put it living and studying in southern India with her lightly—and my brothers and I tried to smile, teacher. She’s a master at bridging the East and pretending it was normal to walk on egg- West, works with individuals, organizations shells every day. I grew up Catholic, but after and companies, both locally and globally. Marmy brother passed I was only going to church cie currently resides in Mount Pleasant, SC with for the promise of doughnuts afterwards. I her daughter.


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Joan Lunden, journalist, former host of Good Morning America and senior living advocate.

the issue


IN A TIME when there is much need for refocused awareness and sensitivity to human rights and equal treatment for all, I am proud to introduce a new column, “Don’t skirt. the Issue.” This is to become a platform to voice your concerns, echo your fellow humans’ aches and pains, and bravely take the steps to make true change in the world. It was Carl Jung who first said, “What you resist persists.” Often, we resist issues by avoiding them altogether. We sweep them under the carpet so they remain unseen, unaccepted and unchanged. A yoga teacher I know starts her classes by asking students to bring awareness to their breath and to notice that just by observing the breath has already begun to change. By refocusing our attention to the issues that concern us, we, too, can begin to see a natural change. We can work to remove resistance. We can celebrate the conditions our sisters have had to endure in the past to make pioneering change for our future. Don’t skirt. the Issue is a space we can freely give our life force, our energy and our breath to candidly share our feelings without the risk of being isolated, separated or limited. So, we are inviting you to communicate with us on the issues you want to bring awareness to and discuss. With this invitation, we promise to keep the conversation rolling! So, no more sweeping important matters under the carpet. No more skirting the issues. We want to hear your voice so we can amplify it, together.

Paula Dezzutti, CEO/Owner skirt. Magazine


Submit your letters, personal essays, poems, or even just a list of the top issues you want to see addressed to

Want more? Visit us at

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locals Skirt believes in women supporting women. That's why we created this special advertising section to highlight small, local, women-run businesses. Join us in buying their products and using their services when you have the opportunity.



GOLDBUG is a coastal lifestyle shop located in a sunlit nook on Sullivan’s Island. Mostly known for their inhouse line of jewelry, made on the island by owner Ashley Reid Martin, GOLDBUG has also fast become a go-to spot for standout resortwear and swimwear, as well as curated gifts for the modern beach lover.

At CorePower Yoga, studio manager Jackie Skinner leads a team of passionate and encouraging certified instructors teaching the incredible, life-changing things that happen when an intense workout is rooted in the mindfulness of yoga. Through a variety of classes in spa-like studios, our students experience CPY’s unique form of fitness.



Fer Caggiano is a Brazilian born painter, who specializes in landscapes, still lifes and portraits. Ranging from a traditional to modern style, Fer creates colorful, textured, impasto oil paintings that capture visions of the world she sees. Using her canvas as her window, she provides a bright, new perspective to showcase our beautiful world.

Consult. Design. Fabricate. Fluff & Co is a creative instrument of change designing in the collaborative fields of Products, Furniture & Interiors. Applying user-centered thinking, Fluff & Co is creating Designs for Daydreamers. We dream of beautiful products in beautiful places in a beautiful world. What do you dream of? fercaggianoart fluffandco goldbugcollection



BEADS & BRUSHSTROKES Can you believe 33 years?!! Serving third generation creatives who got started here (formerly Country Bumpkin.) Gazillion Beads (think: semi-precious, pearls, sterling, tribal, seeds,wire,etc.) Only LOCALLY OWNED art supply source (think: oil paint, acrylic, canvas, watercolor, sketch, brushes,etc) Come start your creative venture! (Think: joy, relaxation,) Beginners assisted, Designers thrilled. beadsandbrushstrokes beadsbrushstrokesbumpkin

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Local jewelry designer, Missy Newsom, created J. Melissa Designs with the "Made on Purpose" mission of providing a global connection to empower underprivileged children. Each sale of her hand-wired designs and statement gemstone rings is helping to build a school in Mengo, Uganda, inspiring hope here and across the globe.

Charleston Dog Walking Co. is the premier provider of professional dog walking, sitting and transportation in Charleston County. Founded in 2010, CDWC leads the industry by providing credible and compassionate care of both dogs and cats while delivering a highly personalized experience for our clients. Follow our daily adventures!

I am a chiropractor, certified clinical nutritionist and female hormone expert. My mission is to help women reclaim their hormonal health and feminine vitality naturally so you feel sexy, energetic, and balanced. I teach you that your hormones don’t have to ruin your life and I'll show you how to take back control of your health, hormones and body. jmelissadesigns charlestondogwalkingco drzgraggen


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Do you struggle to find a nutrition program that works? Are you overwhelmed by all the choices? Our nutrition coach breaks down the process with simple, actionable steps that put you on the path to better health. Become fit and healthy with our customized nutrition plan, ongoing support and resources.

Empowered Birth. Empowered Women. Empowered Families. We are The Exchange. We are your resource for holistic care to better your mind, body, and spirit - before, during, and after pregnancy. We offer acupuncture, chiropractic care, energy work, herbal medicine, massage, pelvic floor physical therapy, emotional support and so much more.

Haley Keisler Holzworth, owner of Hermosa Jewelry and a native to Charleston, SC, is influenced by her Southern lifestyle and the coastal landscapes of the Lowcountry. Located in the heart of Mt. Pleasant, Hermosa sells handcrafted jewelry and local Charleston gifts. Guaranteed to turn heads, Hermosa Jewelry is the ultimate accessory for any occasion. Haley also specializes in jewelry for the whole bridal party.

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White Leaf Provisions believes that healthy food starts with healthy soil. They have created the first Biodynamic baby food in the USA. All of their products are 100% Demeter Biodynamic®, Organic, NON GMO and Regenerativelyl Farmed™. They are helping to heal the Earth that our kids will inherit.

Amy Moore is a South Carolina based interior designer and textile designer. Her work is eclectic and lovely, while staying true to comfort, function, and beauty. Well defined and understated, she works with old and new memories when designing your interior space. Her extensive collection of original textile designs are fresh, sophisticated, and unpretentious.

Kenya Dunn is a coach, motivational speaker and writer. She believes every person has undiscovered power within. Kenya created the Power-Filled Woman to offer you a pathway to success on your own terms. She offers masterclasses, personal coaching, and meeting facilitation.

Step into Erika Lynn Studio and Boutique in Belle Hall Shopping Center; immediately feel like you are walking the streets of Southern Italy. Watch Award winning designer, Erika Lynn, make her exotic leather handbags and accessories while shopping her collection of linen clothing and jewelry she has sourced from Italy. whiteleafprovisions afmdesign kenyadunn12

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Cristina Swinney is a Charlestonbased kitchen and interior designer who takes pride in her ability to transform spaces by marrying conceptual and uniquely designed ideas that is exclusive to each of her clients. Her concept is to create "chef inspired" kitchens with budget, functionality, and time frame in mind. erikalynnhandmade erika@

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Get an in-depth look at the South Carolina Distillery of the Year, Striped Pig Distillery, including meeting the distillers, learning about our distilling process and equipment, and enjoying our award-winning spirits in the tasting room.

With our award-winning distillery and spirits, we can accommodate team building events, cocktail receptions, corporate events, fundraisers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and more for up to 150 people. We also work with exceptional local catering talent to meet any culinary needs.

At Local Choice Spirits our community will always come first and that is why we love to be involved in community events. If you are hosting a party, festival or special occasion, contact us about stocking the bar with our locally crafted spirits!

Photo Courtesy of: Sean Money and Elizabeth Fay

Photo Courtesy of: Brooke Stevens Photography

Call Us: 843-276-3201 | Email Us: | Visit Us: | Join Us: 2225 Old School Drive, Charleston, SC 29405