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SWEETGRASS SUCCESS

CHARLESTON CARRY SISTERS CREATE CUSTOM-MADE SOUTHERN ACCESSORIES

BY NICOLE CRAM | PHOTOS SUPPLIED

It all began in 2014 when Kathie Hall Rainsford was planning her wedding with a little help from her sister, Karen Hall Caraway.

One of the first engagement gifts Kathie and her then-fiancé received was a beautiful sweetgrass basket created by artisans in Charleston’s renowned City Market.

Kathie loved the basket so much, she chose to incorporate sweetgrass material into her wedding, referring to it as “Sweetgrass and Seersucker” themed.

Kathie’s husband, Adam Rainsford, was born in Charleston proper, so it was important to the couple to incorporate a Lowcountry flair into their wedding.

“My mother-in-law has an extensive collection of sweetgrass baskets,” said Kathie. “I’ve come to love them through her. The baskets are so beautiful and functional. When we knew we wanted a Lowcountry wedding I thought it would be cute to incorporate sweetgrass.”

While purchasing several sweetgrass pew markers, Kathie and Karen were inspired to create little bags with sweetgrass handles for the flower girls to carry.

From there Charleston Carry was born. Within a year, the sisters had a website up and running, and word was quickly spreading about the sweet southern staples and accessories coming out of Charleston Carry.

Since then Charleston Carry has flourished into a thriving accessory business throughout the Lowcountry. Each of Charleston Carry’s bags are designed to be one-of-a-kind.

“Everything is intended to be unique and custom made,” said Kathie. “All of our bags are hand-stitched and hand-tooled.”

One aspect that makes Charleston Carry a truly local treasure is the guild of weavers that the business has supported along the way.

“When we were having the pew markers made for my wedding, I met with several ladies from the Charleston City Market, as well as artisans on Edisto and Highway 17,” said Kathie. “We ended up going back to those weavers for the rings for the handbags.”

To this day Kathie and Karen always pay fair market value for each sweetgrass ring they purchase.

They allow the weavers to set the price each time, which is a great way to encourage their business and give back to the community, too. All proceeds made with the sweetgrass material in Charleston Carry’s bags go directly back to the artisans.

Speaking of local, you can find Charleston Carry bags in select boutiques throughout Charleston.

“We like to sell directly to boutiques,” said Kathie. “We wanted to encourage small businesses to thrive, especially during COVID. That’s why we usually discount the items for the boutiques, because we want to encourage people to buy local.”

Kathie and Karen’s motto is, “Be gracious. Be graceful. Be grateful.”

The sisters try to uphold that motto in all aspects of life, especially their business.

“Giving back is a big thing to us,” said Kathie. “We want to make sure we’re doing things in an appropriate way: for our community, our vendors, and the boutiques who support us.”

What’s next? They have some exciting new prints rolling out this year, including a Rainbow Row print that’s in the process of being uploaded to their website. Their logo is also getting a facelift, with some bags featuring a gold, embossed logo.

One of their newest items is a Charleston Carry sweetgrass bike basket, which was inspired by one of Kathie’s anniversary trips with her husband.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cute to see a sweetgrass basket on a bike,’” she said.

Not only is it a cute accessory for your bike, but the lining can be removed from the basket to display it as an heirloom piece.

“It’s beautiful and functional; a true piece of art,” she said.

Kathie and Karen’s relationship has only grown stronger since creating Charleston Carry. “We’re best friends and do everything together already,” said Kathie.

“Charleston Carry is a labor of love, but most of the time it’s just fun for us.”