Women in Business on the Plateau

05 Jun 2024

Great advice from Charleston's top Women in Business

Anita Lupoli

TJ Bailey's

Highlands: (828) 526-2262; Cashiers: (828) 743-8855

The secret to good business is: Always put the customer first.

Why I love doing business in Highlands and Cashiers: It is such a joy to see our clients again. They're like our family.

How has the business grown since you’ve opened? We branched out to Cashiers 10 years ago and added women's brands and jewelry to complement our menswear. The Highlands store has expanded this year and we have added Roberto Coin jewelry and Shinola watches.

What do you like most about what you do? The relationships I have developed along the way, from the partnerships with our amazing brand representatives to the wonderful customers I have had the pleasure of dressing over the last 39 years.

Describe the shopping experience at TJ Bailey’s. When you walk into TJ Bailey's you feel like you're in a fantastic closet full of stylish clothes and beautiful accessories. You are greeted with a smile from our amazing staff who will help you find your new look or the tuxedo you need in an hour. We will steam your clothes for you, so they are ready to wear and give you a glass of champagne while you shop. 

Stacie Platt


(828) 743-3172

Words of wisdom to other women: I’ve always believed that women can do anything they set their minds to. And in many ways, I think there are some aspects of business that women are better equipped to handle. My advice for other women would be to believe in yourself.

The secret to good business is: I’m still learning all the secrets! My experience has taught me that it’s important not to get stuck. I try to always think of what I can tweak or change to make my business more successful and more appealing to folks. Wine helps too; can I say that? Ha!

How has the business grown since you’ve opened? Since purchasing Rusticks, I have really tried to use my years of experience with the previous owners to keep what was working and make some changes in areas that I thought could be improved. Aside from increasing sales at the store, our design business has really taken off. We are busy!

Why is Cashiers a great place for your business? We are so lucky to be so close to great furniture manufacturers here in North Carolina. I also make a point to go to designer markets several times a year in Atlanta. That means that Rusticks can really keep on top of new product offerings for our clients.

Why I love doing business in Cashiers: Cashiers is such a special place. It really draws you in. I get to meet so many great people here who have come from all over the nation, each with their own interesting back story. It’s really a melting pot of wonderful people. And who doesn’t want to be in the North Carolina mountains?

What do you like most about what you do? There is something about working with people to make their house a home that is truly fulfilling to me. I want people to really love that lamp they bought for just the right nook in their house. A beautiful space makes you feel good. That’s what it’s all about.

Describe the shopping experience at Rusticks: When people walk in the front door, we often hear a “Wow!” People are blown away by the authentic rustic architecture of the store and love that shopping here feels like moving through a curated home. Many people decide they want to move in. I don’t blame them!

What makes you stand apart in the retail space? Understanding what people really want in this area has been part of my mission with Rusticks. We are constantly sourcing new quality products that cater to mountain living. We understand that people want to pay homage to the mountains, but they want that fresh feel as well.

Mary Abranyi

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Meadows Mountain Realty | Fusion Yoga & Wellness | Bungalow Boutique

(828) 226-9818

Best business advice I ever received: Meet people where they are by acknowledging them with a smile and offering them support.

Words of wisdom to other women: You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. When in doubt, look within and let your light shine!

The secret to good business is: Being flexible enough to flow with change as things are always changing. It's easy to get stuck on how things have been done, but in order to grow, we must embrace change.

What do you like most about what you do? I love that each of my businesses are in female-dominated industries.

What makes you stand apart in these business spaces? A strong work ethic was instilled in me at the early age of 12 and ever since I have given my all to everything I do and continue to learn as much as I can. I also make time to reflect on what I have done in the past, what I am doing in the present and how my experiences can shape my future. These moments of non-judgmental self-reflection allow me continuous growth.

Wendy Lupas

Gracewear Collection

(828) 743-3999

What inspired the opening of Gracewear? Gracewear was inspired by a “story of Grace” that initially started as a Christian jewelry brand sold in the wholesale market, online and in our boutique. Our desire was to share the message of hope, protection and love through our Shield of Faith jewelry collection. We have since expanded to offer a vast array of women’s resort clothing and accessories, as well as original abstract art and inspirational gifts.

What do you like most about what you do? Gracewear is a unique platform that allows us to be transparent about our faith and offer hope to others. Sharing the powerful message of our brand with our customers is such a blessing. I absolutely love to be able to share God’s love every day through our jewelry and gifts. This is something not many customers experience in the retail space.

Describe the shopping experience at Gracewear. When customers enter Gracewear (I am told) they feel a great sense of peace and belonging. We have praise music playing, an aromatic candle burning and a friendly greeting for each person or family. Our staff is very helpful in helping the customer choose just the right outfit, gift or jewelry piece. We love the many “girl’s trip” shoppers and even offer a glass of rosé to make their shopping experience even more festive.

Why I love doing business in Cashiers: Doing business in Cashiers is a unique and wonderful opportunity. The community of Cashiers is so kind, enthusiastic and supportive, as well as the families that visit this area. Being a seasonal resort town can be challenging, however, the “off-season” slower pace can be refreshing after the incredibly busy summer/fall.

Best business advice I ever received: The best advice I have received was from my pastor who said, “Start small, but think BIG,” I have always been known to be extremely passionate about both business and personal plans, and want to go “all out” from the very beginning. So, this advice is very wise to make certain you lay a solid foundation for your business to grow and succeed.

Susie Young

Wit’s End

(828) 371-1294

Best business advice I ever received: We pride ourselves on being customer service oriented and my father-in-law Earle Young often told me, “The customer may not always be right but must always be satisfied.” Consequently, we will bend over backwards to create a happy satisfied customer experience which explains why Wit’s End has been a successful business for 84 years.

Words of wisdom to other women: I raised our four children over the course of my 35-year career at Wit’s End and I could not have done it without the help of so many. It took a team to keep the shop running when my children were babies and I worked part time and reduced hours during those early years. It took a devoted husband to pitch in and help with so many of the tasks and activities and transportation during those crazy busy school years. Without the support at both the store and at home, I could not have managed to do both and for that, I am extremely grateful.

What inspired the opening of Wit’s End: Wit’s End was founded in 1940 by Margaret S. Young, my husband’s grandmother. She opened the shop after the death of her husband and as a means to provide income to support her two young children at the time. She discovered Highlands as a respite away from the summer heat in West Palm Beach, FL, her winter home. She originally carried fine gifts and interiors to outfit the homes of other Southern families who summered in Highlands.

How has the business grown since you’ve opened? When Wits’ End opened in 1940, it was operational only during the summer months and early fall. We are now open 12 months a year and still occupy the original building on Main Street which Mrs. Young Sr. purchased 84 years ago. The store has expanded out of gifts and carries clothing, jewelry and accessories for women.

Why I love doing business in Highlands: Who wouldn’t want to work and live here? It is a mountain paradise, and our customers are so happy to be here. Our customers love coming back every summer and fall and are happy to shop at Wit’s End for both the beautiful clothing and also the nostalgia of our store being a constant on Main Street. We are the oldest shop in Highlands and have dressed generations of women. We have customers who remember shopping here with their grandmothers and even great-grandmothers. It’s a special place.

Kerri Adkins

ACP Home Interiors

(561) 756-5730

Why I love doing business in Highlands: It’s easy to love being in Highlands, enjoying this fresh mountain air in our special town and the people who shop with us seem to feel the same way. A lot of our customers have 2nd homes here and every time they come back it’s like family returning. Our new shoppers can feel the great energy as well!

What inspired the opening of ACP Home Interiors? ACP has been our family business in Florida since 1983. We have been coming to Highlands since I was young, and I’ve always loved it. I had my own ACP store in Buckhead for 12 years and was so close to being here, that when I had the opportunity, I decided to make the move to Highlands in 2018. So glad I did!

How has the business grown since you’ve opened? With each year we have thankfully grown, and in doing so, we have been able to acquire a large warehouse in Franklin, NC, and are just getting ready to open our second store location in downtown Highlands. We are so excited!

Why is Highlands a great place for your business? Great question! We do get very busy in our shop, but it doesn’t seem like work while being in a town that has such a wonderful sense of community and has been so supportive of my business from day one. I look forward to seeing everyone’s faces coming through our doors!

What do you like most about what you do? What I like most about what I do is that no day is the same. We constantly are changing up the showroom, bringing in new hand-picked items to the shop and we get a chance to meet new people while enjoying our regular customers too!

Jannie Bean

Jannie Bean Fine Custom Jewelry

(828) 526-5858

Best business advice I ever received: Be patient. Be a person of integrity. Give excellent service to every client.

Words of wisdom to other women: If you are starting a business, be patient because it may take two years to anchor yourself. DON’T GIVE UP!

The secret to good business is: Be service-oriented and be honest. Admit if you made a mistake or misjudgment. Also, be a good listener!

What are your most popular products and services? I make my own pieces, but I also enjoy working with products that my customers bring to show me! There are always stories that go along with the pieces. I am happy to restore and redesign their pieces into something new and beautiful!

Describe the shopping experience at Jannie Bean Jewelry. People are free to pop in and snoop and think and get ideas. I think that is the first step, trying to formulate thoughts and express what they think they want. I listen.

What makes you stand apart in the retail space? I work from a cost basis and since I do my own work with my shop, I find I can give my customers a better price.

Why I love doing business in Highlands: You become friends with each and every customer- this is an intimate community.

What inspired the opening of Jannie Bean Jewelry? I have been in this business for over 40 years. Tom and I moved here after reacquainting with Tom’s friend Pat Gleeson, after many years.

How has the business grown since you’ve opened? I am pleased with the growth of my business since arriving 8 plus years ago. 

What do you like most about what you do? Problem-solving for my customers.

Mountainworks Custom Homes