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Charleston with Harper Poe

STORY BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – SHOP PROUD MARY –  PHOTOS BY Lindsey Harris Shorter FOR THE STYLE LINE

Harper Poe is leading the charge within Charleston’s small business community.

As the founder of beloved artisan-made fashion and lifestyle brand Proud Mary, our featured interviewee is blending her southern roots and passion for craftsmanship to create an ethically-made business which caters to those from all walks of life. More to the point, as a brand, Proud Mary’s influences stem heavily from Charleston and its distinct, colorful aesthetic. And as Harper mentioned in our interview below, “Artistically, we use a lot of stripes with Proud Mary, and being in a city of water fits in well with the Charleston aesthetic.”

Speaking more to the above, Harper also contends that Charleston is well on its way to becoming a destination for creative entrepreneurs to set up shop and cultivate successful businesses across a myriad of industries. In fact, we got a taste of the city’s growing small business scene ourselves upon spending a morning with Harper who kindly invited us to some of her favorite local destinations around Charleston (read: colorful cafes, palm tree-lined streets, and a whole lot of shopping!).

Perhaps what struck us most about Harper’s relationship to Charleston is that is spans far beyond any professional aspirations – for Harper, it’s all about coming home. “I grew up in the South and lived in Charleston for a few summers while I was in college,” Harper explained, “so it definitely felt like coming home after being away from the South for ten years.” With that said, today we’re thrilled to share our latest Neighborhood Story featuring three of Harper’s favorite Charleston spots, her thoughts on building a brand here, and how she hopes the city continues to evolve and diversify. Discover the full story below featuring exclusive and beautifully-captured moments from our time together by Lindsey Harris Shorter for The Style Line.

Hi! I’m Harper, I love to travel, love to experience new things constantly,

love my crazy 2-year-old son, Ever, consider myself a global citizen, and want to live everywhere and nowhere in particular. 

Charleston is truly a feast for the eyes. How does the city’s aesthetic inspire your approach to fashion both personally and for Proud Mary? 

I think Charleston’s strong roots to the past with a strong focus on the future is a good analogy for how I see Proud Mary. Working with traditional craftsmanship/artisans means we start with techniques and materials that have been around for generations – but we take them and re-work them to make sense in terms of modern design. Artistically, we use a lot of stripes with Proud Mary, and being in a city of water fits in well with the Charleston aesthetic. 

Talk to us about your relationship to Charleston. What brought you here? What about the city makes it feel like home?

I moved to Charleston from New York late 2008. I grew up in the South and lived in Charleston for a few summers while I was in college so it definitely felt like coming home after being away from the South for ten years. 

With Proud Mary’s global roots abroad, why did you choose to run the brand’s day-to-day in Charleston? How do you think the city fosters creative businesses? 

I didn’t move to Charleston for Proud Mary but for a lifestyle change. I think the city is very encouraging to entrepreneurs and small business owners, and because there isn’t a ton of industry in Charleston, it’s almost a necessity to make a go at a small business to live here. 

What is one idea or thing you wish Charleston would be more known for or associated with?

The community of bad ass women business owners. 

“I think the city is very encouraging to entrepreneurs and small business owners, and because there isn’t a ton of industry in Charleston, it’s almost a necessity to make a go at a small business to live here.

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Proud Mary

Address: 125 1/2 Spring St, Charleston, SC 29403

“The best business decision I’ve made was to sign a lease for this little shop with Lily (Flowershop). Surrounded by textiles and flowers is my idea of heaven.”

Shop Harper’s Look: Proud Mary Ribbed Tank Dress Rust $280

 

How do you anticipate Charleston evolving as the creative community continues to grow? What are some things you personally hope change as a designer?

I think it will be known for creative industry business owners equally as it is known for food. It’s still very much a small Southern city with small town views in a lot of ways. I hope it continues to grow culturally and will embrace diversity more than it does now. 

“I think Charleston’s strong roots to the past with a strong focus on the future is a good analogy for how I see Proud Mary. Artistically, we use a lot of stripes with Proud Mary, and being in a city of water fits in well with the Charleston aesthetic.”

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Huriyali

Address: 401 Huger St, Charleston, SC 29403

“Huriyali is a magical oasis in downtown Charleston. They have the best smoothies (my son is obsessed), beautiful little garden, and new market/cafe with lots of yummy organic, fresh, and local foods.”

Shop Harper’s Look: Proud Mary Knit Huipile Pants $200 and Top $188  and Fringe Slide Sandal Black $164

What is one question you wish people asked you more often?

Where to next? I could talk about that all day.

“It’s still very much a small Southern city with small town views in a lot of ways. I hope it continues to grow culturally and will embrace diversity more than it does now.”

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Worthwhile

Address: 268 King St, Charleston, SC 29401

“Worthwhile is hands down my favorite shop in Charleston. Robben and Brad have such a unique design perspective. Spending time here is always a breath of fresh air.”

Shop Harper’s Look: Proud Mary Bobble Sweater Rust $395 and Fringe Slide Sandal Black $164, and Raquel Allegra Velvet Tie Dye High Waisted Trouser 

How would you advise the next generation of designers to leave an imprint in the world simply by doing what they love?

I think doing what you love is the only way. If we are all content with our work and are constantly learning that is a game changer. That positivity, and love for your daily life can only create positive change.