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Editor in Chief Alicia Zeigler

Managing Editor Alerick Zeigler

Arts Director Tanaric Watts

Marketing Director Arielle Riposta

Beauty Coordinator Dana Wells


Karly Eaton Danw Hendricks Tomas Glenn Ebony Looney

On the Cover Model: Angel Tran Make-Up Artist: Dorothy Inez Wardrobe: Mina/Mas Boutique Photographer: Alvondo Vinson Hair: AV Studios Alvondo Vinson 704 819 4270


Business Women of Ridgeway


A Match Made on Madison Book Review


Charlotte Fashion Week Photos


Food Boutique This isn’t your mama’s pantry...


Alvondo Vinson Photographer Spotlight


Spring 2011 Makeup Trends


South Carolina Roller Derby


Screen Actors Guild Awards


Home Staging





he retail district of the small, historic town of Ridgeway, South Carolina boasts a predominance of women-owned, retail businesses. It wasn’t always this way. For the past couple of decades, the retail businesses consisted of those run by male descendents of local families. Then change came in 2008 when Carol Allen opened The Thomas Company and Laura’s Tea Room, bringing an increase in women visitors. In 2009, three more women-owned businesses - Over the Top Emporium, Deanne’s Creations, and JavaNookBooks opened for business in the district. The Cotton Yard Market was purchased by two women in August of 2010. And this April, Just Around the Corner is scheduled to open its doors. What is special

about these female entrepreneurs who started businesses at a time when the economy told many to be conservative and avoid risk? Carol Allen operated Candlelight Cottage, a gift shop in Blythewood, prior to bringing her business to Ridgeway. She had a large collection of tea pots and tea service and, along with her mother, had a dream of expanding the business to include tea ceremonies. However, they did not have the space in the Cottage to offer high tea. The old Thomas Company building in Ridgeway was perfect for both her gift shop and tea room, so she sold the Candlelight Cottage and opened her new business in Ridgeway. Carol and her mother have earned high honors and reviews for Laura’s Tea Room, which occupies the upstairs in

The Thomas Company. Not only does Laura’s Tea Room brings visitors to Ridgeway from both near and far, but Carol provides employment to seven others, greatly benefitting the local economy. Deanne and Carol Branham operated Deanne’s Creations in Lugoff, South Carolina for two years prior to opening in Ridgeway in July of 2009. They have found that Ridgeway is a better location for their unique, one-on-one business. Ridgeway is a crossroads for highways 34 and 21, bringing both local traffic and travelers to the business district. The art of crochet had been passed down through five generations of Deanne Branham’s family. Deanne and her mother, Carol, provide custom-made crochet items at affordable prices. Contact with others is an important part of their business, and the daily contact with other business women is equally important to them.


BUSINESS WOMEN ON THE RIDGE Carol believes the reason the Ridgeway retail businesses work together as well as they do is because of the women business owners. They share ideas, pool resources, and support each other. Carol related a time when she was ill and was not able to open the store. The ladies across the street from her store noticed that she was not there and called her home to make sure everything was alright. It meant a lot to Carol that there were others looking out for her as well as her daughter’s business.

Carol Allen of Lauras Tea Room

Sharing the same building is Tina Johnson’s Over the Top Emporium. This boutique offers one-of-a-kind hats, handbags, jackets and accessories. Her story began when she had tea with a good friend at Laura’s Tea Room. Tina had been doing genealogical research on her family in the Ridgeway area, and she told her friend that, when she saw the Christmas lights on the bridge Jenny Price co-owner in Ridgeway, her of Cotton Yard Market heart melted and she had fallen in love with the historic town. Tina had been mulling over a dream to open a boutique, so her friend encouraged her to do it. Upon leaving The Thomas Company, Tina noticed that the building next door was for rent. After arranging it


with the owner, Tina toured building and immediately pictured a gold ceiling, animal print rugs, and chandeliers. Tina knew this is where she needed to be, so she signed the lease without even consulting with her husband. Over the Top Emporium opened in July of 2009; offering the shopping experience that isn’t offered elsewhere anymore. Tina uses hand-written receipts rather than the cash register. She uses a layaway journal that is just like those ancient tomes in the attic of her building, and she hopes that in another hundred years people will be reading through her journals, reliving the bygone days. And she offers the kind of service she believes women are due - individual attention without the hard sell. She believes that women work too hard to not enjoy the pleasures of that special hat or handbag. Tina carries the same kind of unique items that you would have to go to Charlotte or Atlanta to find, but you can get it in Ridgeway without experiencing the unfriendly and annoying sales people of those metropolitan centers. And Tina obtained the 8-foot gold-framed mirror, which is predominantly showcased in her boutique, because she wanted her customers to be able to see themselves in the mirror, wearing their new accessories and framed in the elegance they deserve.

Across the street is The Cotton Yard Market, a high-end consignment and gift shop. The shop was opened in November of 2009 as a consignment arm of the Thomas Company. Denise Jones and Jenny Price were looking for a consignment outlet to sell the china cabinets they were not using in their home staging business. As friends of Carol Allen, they heard about the booths that were available at the Cotton Yard Market in Ridgeway. With price and proximity in its favor, they rented booth space and experienced good success selling their items. In August of 2010, when the store came on the market, Denise and Jenny decided that the store was a good recessionproof business that complemented the Deanne and home staging business, so they bought Carol of Dean- The Cotton Yard Market. Bringing their nes Creations knowledge of design and re-design to the business, they have grown it into a thriving enterprise. These and the other business women of Ridgeway are not exceptional. They may not all follow the recommended business procedures such as maintaining up-to-date business plans. Their Tina Johnson of Over The Top accountants did not necessarily agree with their decisions to open businesses in Ridgeway. In fact, Tina Johnson’s accountant thought she had either gone crazy or had too much champagne. Taking this kind of a financial risk in the economic downturn was a prayerful decision for all of them.

in this economy, they all encourage women to do what they love. By loving what they do, they are able to provide unique and friendly experiences to their customers. And the love for their businesses gives them strength to put in the long hours and make the financial sacrifices necessary to build their businesses. So to what do they attribute their success? Even though they are independent-minded, they don’t take sole credit for their successes. Those with husbands praise them for the support they have provided, particularly with the ever-present maintenance which is common to the historic buildings their businesses occupy. And others, like Tina Johnson, praise the established, male, business owners in Ridgeway for welcoming and supporting them. They all agree that the charm and location of historic Ridgeway, halfway between Columbia and Charlotte, contributes largely to attracting customers to their businesses. The Ridgeway retail district is less than one block long, compact and convenient, making it easy for the women to maintain daily contact with each other. The historic town is appealing to women with its Victorian-era homes and treelined streets. Crime is practically non-existent, providing a safe and secure atmosphere for both business owners and their customers. Retail space, though limited, is affordable. The historic and compact setting is ideal for hosting special events and coordinating activities, such as the Mystery on the Ridge and the Holiday on the Ridge events. And the strong-yet-stylish Mayor Charlene Herring has provided invaluable moral support and assistance to the women entrepreneurs. Although some have had opportunities to move their businesses elsewhere, none want to leave Ridgeway. When all things are considered, in addition to the love they have for their respective businesses, I believe it is the desire of these women to join together and support each other that has ensured the success of these Business Women on the Ridge.

When asked what advice they would give to other women thinking about starting a business


A Match Made on Madison

A Match Made on Madison by Dee Davis, ISBN 9780739481110, St. Martin’s Griffin, New York

It was a surprise for me to discover that the old-fashioned matchmaking services, though not necessarily common, are still used by the upscale elite. Almost everyone is aware of the online matchmaking services that have experienced success for the last ten to 15 years. But I was taken aback to learn that the selective, personal, and confidential services of a professional matchmaker were still very much in demand.


Match Made on Madison is set in 21st century Manhattan, the fashion playground for the moneyed elite. Vanessa Carlson

is the matchmaker with a fledgling business who, after a few too many martinis, finds herself in a contest, with her rival, friend, and mentor, Althea Sevalas, to see which can sign billionaire playboy Mark

Grayson as a client. And, to further complicate the matter, she would have to be invited to the wedding resulting from the successful match. Seldom did the matchmakers find themselves invited to the weddings. Finally, the stakes rise considerably when the wager is published by a

society columnist – providing ample warning to Mark Grayson and solidifying his permanent bachelorhood. Grayson is known as a barracuda, eating people for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He is never seen with the same woman twice. He is not the long-term commitment type. Vanessa’s matchmaking business is built on the premise that no one in Manhattan marries for love. At least not once they’ve reached a certain social status. Her professional opinion is “like attracts like”, rather than the more commonly held “opposites attract”. So she looked for matches with similar social backgrounds and interests. And her personal motto is, “When things go wrong, go shopping!” Plenty does go wrong and the fiascos are media fodder as each faux-pas compounds the damage.

“Some men needed to be led to the altar. Some just needed guidance on who to take along for the ride.

We are introduced to many of the finest shopping establishments in Manhattan while Vanessa searches for the handbags (Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Choo) or shoes (Manolo) as the perfect pick-me-up. When the going gets really tough, she calls her mother to join her shopping. Vanessa believes, “Some men needed to be led to the altar. Some just needed guidance on who to take along for the ride. Some of them had to be tricked into the trip. But with men like Mark Grayson, it was about seducing them into the game.” As cynical as Vanessa is about love, she faces doubts about her formula as her

matches-in-progress begin unraveling, leaving her running from one crisis to the next to try to salvage her client’s matches and her professional integrity. Meanwhile, she is clumsily trying to beat Althea at the high-stakes game, knowing that she has everything to lose. Through it all, she tries to rationalize that love is not a factor in successful matches. This is a fun romp through Manhattan, the land of the size 2 glitterati and fashionistas. And the mischief wrought by her escape-artist, lothario tomcat, Waldo, makes Vanessa even more likeable to the reader by exposing the sentimental side she tries so hard to hide.

The ending came about too abruptly, I believe. I was left with a feeling of having been cheated out of some crucial scenes, even after the plot was tied with a neat bow at the end. Perhaps the author had run up against a deadline, forcing her to tie it up neatly and quickly. Regardless, for the fashionistas out there who love reading about shopping and romance, A Match Made on Madison will not disappoint.

Dawn Hendricks



covered by Ebonee Looney


About Charlotte NC Fashion Week


harlotte NC Fashion Week was established in 2008 by Anthony Simons, president of PLITZ’s Fashion Marketing, as a way for emerging designers to reach a broader audience of consumers, style experts, boutique buyers, and the media. Taking place at Uptown’s Blake Hotel in 2008 and the Mint Museum of Art in 2009, the annual event attracts over 1500 people from across the nation to the Charlotte area each year, and provides opportunities for over 50 volunteers and interns in an effort to support and illuminate the city’s expansion of fashion, art and culture. Recognizing the rapid changes in today’s economy, CNCFW provides a way for those in the fashion, retail and beauty industries to remain relevant by providing them with an upscale, yet affordable way to promote their products and businesses on a local and national level.

Designer Kristi Stewart and Reality Star Mindy Hall at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape

Friday Night Crowd at Bank of America Urban Garden-CNCFW 2010-Photo by Brittany Ellis


24-7 Star Goddess Collection at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape

Green Label Designs at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape

Male Model Wearing Foxx Skynz by Design at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape

Meagan Good and Lil Kim at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape


Alana B Couture at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape

24-7 Star Goddess Collection Men's Attire at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape


Female Model Wearing Foxx Skynz by Design at CNCFW 2010-Photo by Gone Ape

professionals who are affected by the recession, was born. Our three major tenets are: choice, exchange, empowerment” says Meredith. The family first chooses which items to take home. They then repay The Food Boutique by an exchange of food for “sweat equity,” such as organizing or restocking the shelves, but the final cornerstone to this food pantry lies in empowerment. By training their clients in lessons in Extreme Couponing or Sustainable Living, The Food boutique provides the family with many of the necessary tools that money conscience consumers employ today. “It is just the coolest thing to be meeting with the incredibly talented people that don’t know where else to turn and to be able to encourage them. But it is so cool to be able to say- you know what, you’re gonna make it through this and we’re gonna help you.” explains Meredith.


hen Meredith Good began her non-profit in 2009, The Food Boutique, she knew she wanted to create a food bank that could be discrete, chic and family friendly for those affected by the recent recession in Columbia. Drawing inspiration from her personal experience with local food banks, Meredith saw the need for a food pantry that provided healthy options and a place where families could tailor their shopping experience to fit their specific needs. “When our family walked through a difficult year in 2008, where we were struggling to make ends meet, we found ourselves needing help with basic things - like even groceries. It was so humbling,” relates Meredith.

Like many food banks, The Food Boutique relies on fundraising and donations for support through using coupons or just buying items wholesale and then giving in excess. Many organizations have partnered with the Goods as well, such as Food Should Taste Good, Inc. and the Radius Church of Lexington. After reaching about 20 families this past year, the Goods hope to double that number in 2011. “We’ve had whole families come together to shop. Sometimes, you get tired in life, but then I’ll come and meet with someone, and it’s so uplifting. We were so generously given to when we were in trouble.” Says Meredith. The Food Boutique is currently located in The Shoppes at Woodhill at 600 Garners Ferry Road in Columbia and currently operates by appointment only. To learn more information or to contact The Food Boutique, visit the website at www. or send an email to fbcolumbia@

Like many families in Columbia, the Goods were affected by the economy. Having never needed to visit a food bank before 2008, Meredith found herself with a desire to provide for similar families in Columbia who are budget-conscience, but still struggling to make ends meet. “So the idea to create a food bank that caters specifically to the niche of folks that have ‘never had to ask for help,’ especially

by Karly Eaton


Model: Chanel Gish Make-Up Artist: Timothy Cabell Hair Stylist: Timothy Cabell Photographer: Alvondo Vinson


Alvondo Vinson 704 819 4270

As a young black man growing up in the projects, photography was the last thing on my mind.Little did I know what my future would hold. Going to school, my teachers and my peers saw something in me that I didn’t know existed, artistic talent.

alvondo vinson Photographer Spotlight 17


t the age of eighteen, I joined the army thinking “this is it, this is my career.“ I couldn’t see or think anything else other than being a soldier, until my last deploy- ment in 2002 to Kosovo. This would be the first time I picked up the camera and snapped my first picture. I didn’t think much about it until I got the film devel- oped and seen the beauty and the artistry in what I had done, I felt so much peace during this time of conflict. From that point on, I was fascinated by what I could do with a camera.


ime passed and I returned to the states as a disabled veteran, which ended my career with the military. Honorably discharged from the military, I withdrew from society for a short while dealing with depression the best way I could. Then I remembered what gave me a sense of peace…the God giving abil- ity to see and create art through the eye of a camera.


ime passed and in 2006 I became a photographer with a goal of becoming a noted fashion photographer all over the world. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most extraordinary people in society from all walks of life. I feel as though everything happens for a reason and the reason for this opportunity, is to show the world my gift, my craft, and to show the world that all things are possible even when you least expect.


adies and gentlemen photography is something positive I use to promote the look and talent of everyday people. Please show support to those that are striving to better themselves through positive means.



Lip Service

Coral pouts are the shade the season, from saturated oranges to soft peachy shades, these shades are a definite way to make a statement!

The Tools: Stila Long Wear

Lip Color in Outrageous, $20, available at Sephora; Sephora Collection Rogue Cream Lipstick in Jealous or It Girl, $12, available at Sephora.

Spring 2011 Makeup Trends Bright citrus lips, smokey eyes with subtle hints of color, bubblegum pink cheeks and glowy flashes of fuchsia are the colors the define Spring 2011 and here are five makeup trends that are sure to warm things up!

The Line Up

Soften up the traditional smok simple eyeshadow shade this plum and violet.

The Tools: From left, Liu We

Lauder; Estee Lauder Double W Pencil in Untamed Violet, $19, a Dolce & Gabbana The Eyeliner i Saks Fifth Avenue.

by Dana Wells

Perfecting the Brow

“How do I create a fuller brow with a defined brow?�

Getting Cheeky

Colorful cheek are definitely back just in time for sunny days!

Pastel Pinks

The 60’s-inspired cotton-candy pink shade is a must have obsession for this season

The Tools: Clockwise from top left, YSL Creme de Blush in Fuchsia Tempataion, $38, available at YSL Beauty; Guerlain Limited Edition Serie Noire Blush G, $67, available at Neiman Marcus; ; Givency Blush Gelee in Candide Pink, $33, available at Sephora; Tarte Amazonian Clay 12Hour Blush in Flush, $25, available at Sephora.

The Tools: From left, Dolce &

Gabbana in Bon Bon $29, available in select department stores; L’Oreal Paris Infallible Le Rouge Lipstick in Beyond Blushing $8.99, available at Target; Essie Nail Polish in French Affair $8, available at

key eye or add flair to a spring with rich shades or

en image courtesy of Estee Wear Stay-in-Place Eye available at Estee Lauder; in Lilac, $29, available at

Pastel Pinks

Eyeshadow palettes are the simplistest way to play with complimentary colors, especially those with dark and colorful shades that will give an extra edge when creating the perfect smokey eye for the season. The Tools: From left, From left, Chanel Ombres Perlees de Chanel Eyeshadow Palette, $65, available at Chanel; Giorgio Armani Transluminence Eye Palette in La Femme Bleue $58, available at Giorgio Armani Beauty.

Always remember to keep the inner part of the brow natural, do this by tweezing towards the end of the brow are your line gets thinner. You would then brush your brows down before taking your brow pencil or powder to add definition to the highest part of the arch. After defining the highest part of the arch, use a brow gel to brush them back up and hold them in place. The reason for doing so, is to keep the left and definition natural giving you the ultimate brow look.


Columbia Quad Squad Team


o the casual outsider, women’s roller derby seems like any other team sport. You have your rules, your players, your coaches, your referees, your special lingo; but step into the skates of one of these women, and you will soon discover that roller derby is a home away from home. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world that is Roller Derby.

“They make you feel welcome right from the get go. They don’t make you feel like you aren’t part of the team at all. As soon as you show up, you’re like family to us. We’re all pretty close, and hang out a lot. It’s the team that makes you feel welcome right away,” relates Greenville Derby Dames jammer, Amber Rage (Laura Gray) of her team.

“We try to use who we are as a part of what we do,” says Palmetto State Roller Girls team captain, Scream Weaver (Laura Weaver).

Roller derby teams consist of women from all ages and backgrounds adding a unique dynamic to practices and bouts. Most typical practices consist of skills training, endurance building and scrimmaging for both the “fresh meat” and the seasoned veteran on the team.

South Carolina is fortunate to house seven different women’s derby teams including Columbia Quad Squad, Palmetto State Roller Girls in Myrtle Beach, and Greenville Derby Dames. Each team has its own unique personality and the members of the team interact like a family, complete with special derby-registered names and bout fits.


“One of the fascinating things about derby is the unlimited age groups. You can have everyone from 21 years old to Mama Knuckles. There’s no limit to how old you are, but how much heart you’ve got. This opportunity doesn’t come around often,” says Columbia Quad Squad jammer, Grafik (Gray Taylor).


espite pre-bout rituals for each member like the Pasta Party for GDD, it’s the after party that the teams look forward to celebrating together. No matter winners or losers, all players and participants enjoy the chance to unwind and spend time with fellow players.

Palmetto State Rollerderby

“Derbyoke. It’s like karaoke, but better because it’s all the derby girls (both teams, and players from other teams who come to watch).By the end of the night, everybody is singing together (winners, losers, referees) and it can be slightly silly,” says Scream Weaver.

The teams also give back to the community through supporting various non-profits or women’s shelters such as SCCADVASA, the South Carolina network of women’s rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters.

South Coast Roller Derby Team

“We’ll either do a reciprocal type thing with shared information or give a part of the proceeds to them. So, it’s just a kind of by-product that we get to enjoy each other’s company and have fun,” says Columbia Quad Squad member Dani Dynamite.

This welcoming atmosphere is what separates roller derby from all other sports. It’s a free space for women of any age to work hard, find a family, and let loose.

“As long as they are determined and willing to work hard, then it’s for you. But its really a sport for anyone. Any characteristic, personality, body type. But we all come together on the track,” says GDD member Lorena Block-It (Lorena Collins).

For more information about practice times, bout-fits or general derby-

Greenville Derby Dames


by Doris Walker

elaine floyd PHOTOGRAPHY



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THE 2011 SAG AWARDS LIGHT UP HOLLYWOOD King’s Speech, Colin Firth, Christian Bale, and Natalie Portman win big by Tomás Glenn The 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards brought out the best in film and television on Sunday night,

about the show’s acronymic title, saying, “It shouldn’t be called the SAG award; it should be called the uplifting award.”

January 30th at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Ange-

The absence of

les. With films including “The King’s Speech,” “The

upsets continued as

Fighter,” and “Black Swan,” up for SAG awards, the

Christian Bale took

show was a celebration of triumph over adversity

home the trophy for

in film. The SAG Awards were more subdued than

Outstanding Perfor-

this year’s Golden Globes (no Ricky Gervais-esque

mance by a Male in

hosting to upset Hollywood’s royalty). However, the

a Supporting Role

excitement surrounding each win left many Oscar

for “The Fighter.”

hopefuls anxiously awaiting this year’s Academy

The film’s real-life

Award outcomes. It was no surprise when British historical film “The King’s Speech” picked up the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast at the ceremony where the film’s lead, Colin Firth also nabbed the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Lead Role. Firth jokingly mentioned he once viewed his SAG card as a tool to gain “female attention” and entry into nightclubs. Geoffrey Rush, the film’s Executive Producer who also starred in the film quipped


inspiration Dicky Eklund, surprisingly appeared

work in her 80s.

on-stage with Bale at the ceremony. “The Fighter”

After receiving praise from

Actress Melissa Leo took home the award for Out-

film industries, national and

standing Performance by a Female in a Support-

international alike, includ-

ing Role. Leo acknowledged the guild’s importance

ing a win at this year’s

saying, “Unions make this country great, because it

Golden Globes for Best

gives a voice to the working people.”

Motion Picture Drama,

No stranger to

“The Social Network” was

work is awards

nominated for two SAG

season darling

awards but came away

Natalie Portman,

empty handed.

who continued her winning streak by snatching the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor

Prior to the live telecast, “Inception,” the sci-fi, action blockbuster received the award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture (“True Blood” took home the same award for a Television Series).

in a Lead award

The 2011 Life Achievement Award went to Oscar

for her riveting

winner Ernest Borgnine, whose television and film

performance in

career spans more than six decades. Borgnine’s lat-

“Black Swan.”

est work was in the 2010 action-comedy film “RED”

Portman humbly accepted her award and also

alongside Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and

thanked the guild for protecting her as an 11-year old

Bruce Willis.

child star. Most notably, Portman extended thanks to her parents whom she credited for her strong work ethic and ability to remain humble.

The SAG Awards debuted in 1995 and is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Nominees are voted upon by two randomly selected panels of 2,100 SAG members across the United States. The entire guild, some 100,000 members

Betty White, who is ex-

receive the final ballot, where they select the SAG

periencing a career re-

Award winners for the year in review.

vival, seemed shocked when she accepted her first SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series for her role as a saucy, Polish caretaker in TV Land’s sitcom “Hot in Cleveland.” The 89-year old actress subtly gave a nod to Hollywood when she verbalized her gratitude in being able to


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Home Staging by Dawn Hendricks


ome staging is the art of packaging and preparing a home for sale. It sets a model with furniture and decorations to enhance the vision of the perspective buyer. Buyers are generally not able to see how they might use the space in the home without some creative assistance. Also, first impressions are of prime importance since buyers will know within 15 seconds of stepping into the home whether they like the home or not. And, regarding curb appeal, the buyer has seconds to decide whether to get out of the comfort of their car or drive on. According to statistics from The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and published in Village Voice in March of 2000, staged homes sold in 13.9 days versus 30.9 days for homes that were not staged. With the current buyer’s market and depressed economy, home staging may be necessary to sell a house that may not otherwise sell. Staged homes also sold for more than non-staged homes. According to the same NAR statistics, staged homes sold for an average of 6.9-10% over the listing price. One reason for this is that homes that sit on the market too long sell for less because potential buyers believe either there is something wrong with the home or that the seller may be desperate enough to accept a low offer. I spoke with Denise Jones of J & P House Staging to find out more about the process. She told me house staging brings out the good qualities of a house while minimizing the potential negatives. As an example, they staged a home that had a large fireplace dominating the room when you crossed the threshold of the house. It made the room seem small and left a buyer wondering what they could do with the space. With thoughtfully placed furnishings the room became more spacious and livable, and the fireplace was no longer an obstacle to the buyer upon entering the room. Following the staging, the realtor held an open house on Friday and had a signed contract on the following Monday. The house staging gave the buyers an idea of what they could do with the home, and they were able to visualize themselves in the home as a result. Denise and her partner, Jennie Price, go through several steps when they stage a home. The process takes an average of two hours for the initial visit; and, beginning at the curb and going through the house, they work to get that “Wow!” factor. These are the steps they take:







urb appeal. When they drive up, they take in the house from the street. What would need to be added or removed or changed to add to the curb appeal and provide a good first impression? The suggestions may include manicuring the landscaping, removing any unsightly landscaping or lawn ornaments, painting the front door, adding pots of flowers or an attractive bench to the front entrance, painting the front door, or replacing the door hardware.


irst impression of inside. When they walk into the home, they look for first impressions. They may suggest minimizing furnishings to make the area more spacious, or adding a piece of furniture or a feature to detract from negatives or defects.


eutralize the home. While going room by room, they note what needs to be removed to neutralize the home. Family pictures should be removed to allow the buyer to see themselves in the home and not feel like they are intruding. Anything political or controversial should be removed, even accessories that identify allegiance to a particular school or sports team.


ecessary additions. They also look for what should be added to enhance the home. Denise and Jenny may bring in furniture and accessories to add to the comfort and style and emphasize the positive selling points of the home. Most of their furnishings are ‘gently used’ rather than new, adding to the vision of a livable, comfortable home. When necessary, though, they will buy furniture or accessories to ensure the home is presented in its best light.


omeowner checklist. The home owners are given a checklist of things they can do themselves to enhance the appearances of the home. Jenny and Denise usually suggest that home owners rent a storage space to de-clutter their home and for storing any furniture that needs to be removed during the process of minimizing or replacing furnishings. Since the seller will be moving anyway following the sale of the home, the storage space will give them a head start on moving out.









ave you ever wondered why an empty house is harder to sell? It is because the buyer cannot visualize how the spaces could be used. J & P House Staging will bring in furniture and accessories to stage the empty home and allow the potential buyers to see the possibilities. The charges for home staging vary. Some home staging companies charge by the square foot. J & P House Staging works with an initial four-month contract, renewable on a month-by-month basis. It is rare for contracts to go beyond four months, even in this economy. Regarding the current market, Denise has found that lower priced homes are generally selling better than the higher priced homes. Jenny Price is the interior decorator in the business. She had extensive experience in decorating homes, particularly for the Christmas holidays. Jenny also creates floral arrangements which add the special touches to staged and decorated homes. She has been decorating homes for many years, in addition to her full-time job as a dental hygienist. It was a request from a co-worker that started Jenny on home staging. The co-worker had been trying, unsuccessfully, to sell her house so she asked Jenny to come in and stage the home. This was in January of 2008. Her home sold in 23 days following the staging. Jenny told Denise about the successful staging effort and Denise asked for help in staging her daughter’s house, which was for sale. The realtor impressed with the results, asked them to stage another house she had listed, and their home staging business was launched. Most of their business has been obtained through word-of-mouth from homeowners and realtors alike.


At one time J & P House Staging had eight homes in staging at the same time. This required a large inventory of furniture and accessories. They had acquired most of their used furnishings from their own homes or from family collections. They would only buy items as needed from estate sales or similar venues. Jenny Price had owned and operated The Menagerie, a gift shop in Blythewood, and the store’s inventory of gift items and home accessories provided a ready source of furnishings for the homes they staged. In addition to staging homes for sale, J & P House Staging provides re-design services. If a homeowner has problems with traffic flow or just wants to change the look of their home, Jenny and Denise will rearrange furnishings to meet their needs. They may repaint or add new art or add one of Jenny’s custom-made, floral arrangements to achieve the desired results. Denise is the accountant for the partnership, so she is the one who presents the benefit analysis to the customer during the consultation. She finds that most people are very pleased with the results of the home staging. One of their satisfied, regular customers is an investor who flips houses. Denise is quick to add that higher-end customers do not always appreciate the staging concepts. Home staging is not about design and expensive furnishing, but is instead about showcasing the home itself and selling the home’s strengths. For more information on home staging you can visit or contact J & P House Staging at or 803-3612013.



by Doris Walker


elaine floyd PHOTOGRAPHY




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