Paige Bowser, Owner and Founder of Breezy Quarters, first launched her business as a hobby from her Abbeville, SC home kitchen creating soaps and igniting a curiosity about ingredients and formulations. A high-school teacher at the time, Paige attended farmers markets and weekend craft shows selling her soaps to local community residents.
Paige's hobby has evolved into a thriving soap and bath factory. Breezy Quarters handcrafts and sells natural and sustainable soaps, lotions, and personal care items through various channels including retail, online, and wholesale. Paige explains, "We really try to have something for everyone. While my business was very small, we developed our 'favorite eight' scents and most everyone could find something they like. Since opening our store, we have expanded our product line to include a men's grooming line, facial care, shampoo, deodorant, and a pedicure line. Our bestselling product is No Melt Lip Balm which is gluten free, all natural, and will not melt like other brands. This is the only product we offer wholesale and it reaches as far as Hawaii!"
Naming her business 'Breezy Quarters' after the home her grandfather built, Paige shares more on how she decided to make soap a career, "I was trying to balance my professional life and my personal life. As a high-school educator, I was busy teaching history, economics, and government classes. Being involved with after-school activities and civic and church organizations is also important to me. Balancing all of this while taking care of my family was exceedingly difficult." Paige continues, "Six years before my first retail location, I had been selling my soap products at local markets. Ironically, I sold very little during these times although felt a persistent and compelling higher calling. I so wanted to do this and I would listen to other business owners' success stories and their encouraging words. I knew that I had to try. I ran the numbers and figured out how many products I would need to sell to meet my teaching salary. I also looked at how much my husband and I were spending in childcare at the time."
Paige started small by supplying local Abbeville, SC retailers and establishments with soap and lotions. One of Paige's first customers was a local historic hotel that helped to create awareness for Breezy Quarters through word of mouth. In 2016, Paige rented a 2,000 sqft retail space just off Abbeville Town Square on Trinity Street. From there, Paige said everything just fell into place. "I received an incredible amount of support from family, friends, and community. My husband and other family members - they all pitched in to help with the kids cheering us on and mostly being content to run circles in our new space. The community even offered to help. Without the Abbeville community, I would have lost steam and would not be doing this today. All the equipment, furniture, and other items needed to launch just came all together. It was serendipitous." In mid-2019, Paige was able to purchase her own 3,600 sqft building and celebrated with a successful grand opening. Always seeking ways to give back to her local Abbeville community, Paige dedicated new workspace in her building to devote as a local business incubator. "It's important for me to help other small business owners who are working hard to launch their business. We provide workspace, business resources, and coaching. The idea is that once their business grows to the point they need to expand, they move on to their next location and we find a new business to occupy the incubator. So far, we have graduated one business and are seeking the next. Our hope is that the incubator businesses stay in Abbeville to maintain support of the local economy and that they also find ways to give back to Abbeville as their business grows."
During the same time as she prepared to launch her new facility, Paige contacted SCORE - Piedmont to request their free mentoring services and was paired up with Certified SCORE Mentors Fred Raab and Cecil Murray. Paige first learned of SCORE's mentoring services in 2016 when she attended SCORE's free educational "Small Business Startup Workshop". Fred and Cecil merged their strengths as a team to mentor Paige over the years. After retiring from the Army's Military Police, Fred landed a job with a Fortune 500 Company where he spent most of his career. Fred has held various leadership positions including Operations Manager, GM, Sales Executive, and Marketing Executive prior to retiring and volunteering as a SCORE Mentor and the Piedmont SCORE Chapter Chair. Cecil was involved in launching several business start-ups and contributed to several early stage technology companies guiding them to successful starts prior to volunteering with SCORE. Cecil also served in senior technology leadership positions with large financial services companies before retiring.
Paige offers the following advice to other small business owners, "Listen to your instincts. Closely monitor your company's performance with particular attention to your cash flow. Most importantly, you don't have to wait until you are in tears before you ask for help. Be proactive if you see challenging times ahead and find someone to help like SCORE Mentors."