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Life at the villa

The Garden Gate, Victoria Susan, artists set up shop in historic building

Posted: March 1, 2012 5:16 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2012 5:00 a.m.
Miciah Bennett/C-I

Victoria Susan, formerly of TenEleven Galleria, has moved into the Greenleaf Villa, at 1307 Broad St. Linda Susan Sowell , owner of Victoria Susan; Mike and Terry Scott, of The Garden Gate; and three local artists settled in for business in the historic building Feb. 1.

The historic Greenleaf Villa has new tenants.

Mike and Terry Scott, of The Garden Gate Gallery and Frame Shop, and Linda Susan Sowell, of Victoria Susan, moved in on Feb. 1 and are making the home their own.

KershawHealth Foundation occupied the home for three years prior to the Scotts and Sowell. Alice Boykin owns the building, built in 1810. It has previously been a residence, a gift shop and an office building and now the Scotts, Sowell and a several local artists will open both levels of the building to Camden residents and visitors.

“I loved it from the minute I saw it,” Terri said. “If I can’t live in it, at least I can work in it.”

Terry and Linda talked about moving into a space together for about a year, Sowell said. The Scotts did some framing for the Foundation and someone mentioned that The Garden Gate should move in when they moved out. When KershawHealth did leave the building, Terry was determined to find a way to move into the villa. The Scotts and Sowell occupy the bottom floor of the building and the upstairs houses local artists Lisa B. Adams, Caroline Harper and Amy Sheheen.

“I really want to be a part of the community and contribute where we can,” said Terry, adding that she thinks that being in the villa will create a better community presence for all of the people in the building.

The Garden Gate

Mike and Terry opened The Garden Gate in late 2010. Terri said her husband had expressed a deep interest in photography and wanted to learn how to frame. Stoney Hilton, of Hilton Artwork, taught Mike the art of framing, and one day Mike came home and said “we’re opening a frame shop,” Terri said.

The duo bought all of the necessary materials from Hilton, who was retiring. and The Garden Gate opened in the cottage behind the Greenleaf Villa.

Terri is a full-time nurse with KershawHealth and Mike is a licensed massage therapist, a saddle fitter and a self- published author and producer. Troy Leitzsey, a framer, operates The Garden Gate during the day.

Moving into the villa allowed the Scotts to expand their gift shop. Terry said she would love to offer handmade items from South Carolina only, but expanding the geographical territory allows for a wider variety of handmade items. In The Garden Gate gift shop almost everything is for sale; even the furniture that displays the handmade items is available for purchase. There are bowties and pottery and there is jewelry and scarves; there is a body-care line for women and men and glass terrariums.

“I really want a nice gift, where should I go?” is what Terri thought when expanding the gift shop. “There are jewelry stores in Camden, but no gift shops,” she said.

Mike offers massage therapy for interested clients on the second floor of the villa. He has previously worked with the Boston Marathon and with doctors and chiropractors, according to his website.

The couple, both originally from the northeast United States, also expanded their design room and will offer a wider selection of frame options.

Terri said she is tossing around the idea of opening a tea shop or a café in the villa as well, if time permits.

Victoria Susan

Linda Sowell has always worked for herself. She has owned Victoria Susan since 1987 and has been in the jewelry trade since ’71.

Linda moved Victoria Susan to Camden from Lancaster when she and her husband moved to the Lake Wateree area in 2003. The move for the business, previously located in TenEleven Galleria, came at the right time and it was the right place, Linda said. Victoria Susan occupies two rooms to the right on the first floor. The space, “about the same” size as her previous store in the galleria, has “more light and more air,” Linda said. Her husband, Ed Loyd, built a dressing room in the back room of the villa.

“This house is fabulous for what I do,” she said.

Linda said she carries mostly American-made products, but she also includes some fair trade items from Guatemala and Nepal. She works with small companies and individuals, at least 50 different vendors at a time, sometimes 75, she said. With her time in the business and her history with artists, Linda said she knows intuitively what will and won’t sell.

The Victoria Susan feel is “artsy;” something that has allowed her business to survive, Linda said.

Although her store has had many transformations over the years, Linda said she has always kept the wearable art theme. In addition to clothes, she sells jewelry, essential oils, candles, bath and body products and art.

“The unique, the original, and the comfortable describe us to a ‘T,’” she said.

(The Garden Gate and Victoria Susan will host an open house from 5 to 8 p.m. today at the Greenleaf Villa, 1307 Broad St., Camden.)

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