ABBEVILLE — A Union native’s business in Abbeville has won national recognition from an organization that encourages and mentors aspiring entrepreneurs.
Paige Bowser is a Union native who graduated from Union High School in 2002 and from USC Union in 2004. She is the daughter of Brooks Carwisle and Sharon Brickle and the granddaughter of Gloria and the late John Preston Carwisle. After graduating from USC Union, Bowser moved to Greenwood where she got her degree in History from Lander University in 2006. She then moved to Abbeville where she taught history before opening her business, Breezy Quarters in 2012.
Now, five years later, Breezy Quarters has been named by SCORE, “the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors,” as a “winner of The 2018 American Small Business Championship.”
A press release issued by SCORE Sunday announcing the award, states that SCORE “awarded this title to 102 entrepreneurs for their dedication to the success of their small businesses, awarding them an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year, and a chance to win one of three $15,000 grand prizes, made possible with the support of Sam’s Club.”
The press releases states that “Breezy Quarters earned the title of American Small Business Champion by submitting an online application describing what makes their business one of the best small businesses in their community, and how they plan to use the prizes to grow their business. Nominations that garnered at least 100 votes were then presented to a judging panel of small business experts that determined 102 winners including Breezy Quarters.”
It further states that Breezy Quarters “is located on Trinity St in Abbeville, SC and handcrafts bath products like soap, lotion, lip balm, bath bombs, and soy candles. They began their business at home and sold at farmers markets and craft shows across the Carolinas before opening the brick and mortar store in September 2016. With only one employee, and a family to take care of Paige Bowser, founder of Breezy Quarters hopes to grow the business by increasing awareness of the Abbeville store, increasing online sales, and getting their No Melt Lip Balms into other stores to ensure that they can continue to live the American Dream and be a fixture in the community. Paige dreams of offering more jobs and one day owning one of the buildings in the Historic Abbeville Square.”
Bowser said Monday that her experiences at Union High School and at USC Union helped her develop the qualities that have enabled her to open and operate Breezy Quarters.
“I was in the marching band at Union High School and it gave me a lot of my small business qualifications: determination, working hard, and being on time, so I have to credit (Band Director) Buddy Wilkes for that,” Bowser said. “At USC Union I was president of the student government and that’s where I learned about leadership and working with other people.”
Bowser said she began her business while she was still a teacher and operated it out of her family’s home from which Breezy Quarters gets its name. The demands of raising a family, working as a teacher, and owning and operating a business and its ensuing success lead Bowser to leaving teaching and turning what had been a hobby into something much more.
“We bought an old farm house here in Abbeville and that’s where Breezy Quarters got its name,” Bowser said. “I started my business in 2012 while I was still teaching, but I stopped teaching after I had my second child.”
Bowser said the expenses and stress involved in trying to be a mother, a teacher, and a businesswoman and trying to balance them lead to her decision to leave teaching. The decision, however, proved to be a wise one as Breezy Quarters has not only grown beyond her expectations, but has now brought Bowser national recognition as an entrepreneur.
“It was a hobby business at first and it’s just grown over the years,” Bowser said. “I had no idea I would end up in a brick and mortar store, but also fly across country to receive a national award.”
Nor is being named a winner of The 2018 American Small Business Championship the only award Breezy Quarters has received over the years, awards that reflect not only it success, but also its commitment to the community, a commitment that has been reciprocated by the public.
The press release states that Breezy Quarters “has been honored to be selected as Business of the Year in 2017 by WCTEL, is a member of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild, and certified advanced soap maker. Breezy Quarters donates soap to the Abbeville Food Bank several times a year, as well as many school, civic and religious organizations, and is a big advocate for music education in schools.”
Bowser said that “I am so humbled that the community has rallied around our efforts. Every one of the 4000 votes we received in this contest lifted my spirits and has propelled us forward to improve our business, reach more people, and be a longstanding member of the business community. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
In addition to the support she has received in the community, Bowser also gave thanks to God for the success she has experienced with her business.
“It’s really been the Lord’s plan and guidance,” Bowser said. “I just take opportunities as they come and run.”
Bowser lives in Abbeville with her husband, Ben, and their sons Wesley, 7, and Spencer, 5. The Bowsers are members of Due West Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Due West.
SCORE CEO Ken Yancey said that the organization “congratulates and celebrates these 102 American Small Business Champions, who represent some of the best small businesses in America. “We are proud to reward these passionate and hardworking entrepreneurs with business mentoring, publicity and additional networking and training opportunities, and we look forward to watching them utilize these tools to further grow their business success.”
Tracey D. Brown, Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Experience Officer at Sam’s Club, said that “supporting entrepreneurs has been a part of who we are for nearly 35 years. Many of our members own a small business and we appreciate having the opportunity to help them as they find creative solutions to problems they face on a day to day basis. The 102 winners celebrated through the American Small Business Championship are excellent examples of how innovation, persistence and knowing your customers can help an entrepreneur overcome obstacles and we congratulate them on their accomplishments.”
It’s being named an American Small Business Champion means that Breezy Quarters “is also eligible to win one of three additional $15,000 grand prizes, by being named Grand Champion. A judging panel of small business experts will select three Grand Champion from the group of small business champions this summer. Selection will be based on how effectively Champions utilize their prizes to grow business revenue or operations, as well as how effectively the winners promoted the Championship in the media and social media.”
About Breezy Quarters
For more information about supporting Breezy Quarters visit their website www.BreezyQuarters.com, follow their journey on Facebook, Instagram, email [email protected] or call 864-362-0555.
Since 1964, SCORE has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs. Each year, SCORE’s 10,000 volunteer business experts provide 450,000+ free small business mentoring sessions, workshops and educational services to clients in 300 chapters nationwide. In 2017, SCORE volunteers provided 3.6+ million hours to help create more than 54,000 small businesses and 116,000 full-time, part-time, owner and contractor jobs.
For more information about starting or operating a small business, visit SCORE at www.score.org. Follow @SCOREMentors on Facebook and Twitter for the latest small business news and updates.