I came to Columbia for college to go to USC in August of 2005, and basically never left. I realized later in college that I wanted to own my own store, and I’d started working retail at other small businesses in the Five Points area, so I was familiar with Five Points, small businesses and the impact they can have.
There’s a personal touch you get if you shop here – seeing the owner and the same staff – and that struck a chord with me. Following college, I started working as a manager and buyer in small stores, and knew I was working toward ownership. Things fell into place, and I opened STEEL garden – an urban-chic women’s boutique – in February 2014.
Five Points feels like the first place you get dropped into, and it’s the place that stays with you after school that you keep wanting to go back to.
When we started looking for spaces, we looked in other areas of the city, but nowhere else has the same feeling as Five Points. Everyone is friendly, you can walk around and know everyone; wave to other storeowners.
Even in a physical way, Five Points makes sense – everywhere else is one long street, but Five Points is so compact that everything works together. It really is about the balance of having boutiques and coffee shops and bars and restaurants and different kinds of stores, which is very unique to Five Points.