When friends suggested a move to Kiawah Island the summer after freshman year, I said, "And where is that?" "Near Charleston," they said. Hmmm, I'd never been to Charleston. (I grew up in NC but never made it to Charleston?)

Little did I know that this conversation would change the trajectory of my life.

I did move to Kiawah Island, came back every summer, and then moved to Charleston "for real" in 1993. This city spoke to me then, and still does. It's home.

After stints at the local Coffee Beanery (alas Starbucks prevailed), Celadon (which was Room & Board back then), and Skirt! (thanks for lifting me up, Nikki!), then founding The Little Black Book for Every Busy Woman (cheers to co-owner, now full owner, Jennifer Buddin) and SunnySaves (Groupon got me on that one), then editing many books, and working with my husband (Stanfield Gray rocks, for real) on DIG SOUTH for 8 years...now I want to showcase the talented makers, artisans and designers of my city, Charleston (and, no, I'm not from here!).

Supporting the local economy has never been more important. And the talent in this town blows me away.

I hope you enjoy the stories, the recipes, the surcies, the soon-to-be heirlooms and everything else that Essentially Charleston has to offer!

Stay well,


The Grays, New Year's Day 2020 (before you know what really hit the fan)
Note: We're still really happy and grateful, but my daughter probably "hates" this photo! (Braces are off now :)