Being a resident of a quaint Lowcountry community is like having a constant tribe of BFFs. I have yet to meet a “stranger.” The perpetual invitation to happy hour and lunch dates and coffee chats is a welcome addition to my calendar; and a welcome distraction from staring at my computer screen in barre pants.
Enter a new friend who I met through a local women’s organization; she was stylish and sweet and a true local to Hilton Head, having spent her life growing up on the island. Reverting back to my 2nd grade playground self, I basically went up to her and asked, “Do you want to be my friend?” She obliged with a big HECK YES! kind of smile and invited me to lunch. A new gal pal AND lunch?! These are the things that make my heart siiiing.
She invited me to one of her favorite spots in Coligny Plaza. I begrudgingly agreed to meet there. Why would she pick such a wacky touristy area? I thought. I’ve maybe been to the Coligny area once or twice for random errands; but even when we vacationed here all those summers, it really wasn’t on our list of “Must Do” things in Hilton Head. I had envisioned a hot bed of neon air-brushed muscle-shirt and fanny-pack clad tourists shopping for tacky knick-knacks. She insisted it was one of her favorite places and I’d been missing out, so I went for it.
We meet at Market Street Cafe (their drink menu is listed front page of the menu – I already liked this place) and she shows up in the cutest social media starlet worthy outfit… I show up “yoga pants chic” from my morning at the barre studio. She greets me with a big hug and immediately suggests we order the hummus plate to start (where HAS she been all my life?), and we chat away about the island: its magic, its wonder, its potential. After stuffing my face with THE best gyro I’ve had in a long time (I should’ve been more ladylike and gotten the Greek salad, but: #eatallthetzatziki), she invites me to join her on a quick post-lunch trip to a few stores in the plaza… in my gyro + hummus euphoria, I trot behind her and am blown away… GEEZ. There ARE some nice things around here.
While I got a small taste of Coligny’s finer side then, I came back a while later when I had some time to kill between meetings (and maybe I had a generous tip from a fabulous wedding client burning a hole in my pocket). So I spent an afternoon perusing the boutiques and specialty shoppes, totally enamoured with their charm, their gracious and friendly staff members, and their unpretentious allure of Hilton Head. Having never set foot in these stores before, I felt like I was greeted by an old friend; I was relaxed and free to wander and touch and explore their wares. With the last few weeks being total chaos, the couple of hours of uninterrupted retail therapy was perfection.
And because keeping my newfound favorite #treatyoself oasis to myself is just cruel, I have to share my recent finds:
When describing Island Girl, I feel like I’m pulling a Stefon from SNL (“It has EVERYthing…”): super cute, super casual, super dressy, super trendy… I could easy get an outfit for a fitness walk on the beach to a date night get-up for Hilton Head’s finest, but what really struck me was their jewelry. I’d heard of Waxing Poetic but never seen it in person, and I loved the selection and detail of their collection. Choosing either a bracelet or necklace, you “build” your charm story – and each little charm has it’s own meaning. One of the ladies showed me her beautiful necklace and shared her story behind her charms; what a GREAT gift idea to get one started and add pieces over time!
I also really loved that they carried The Giving Keys pieces, a special collection that supports individuals and families affected by poverty and homelessness by providing resources and training for them to improve their lives and become self-sufficient (want a ‘feel good’ moment? watch this video). While the store has more bright and trendy brands, I was really moved to see Island Girl had prominently featured more unique and special pieces that carry some heart to it.
Don’t let their digital presence fool you; I shied away from this store because I was NOT interested in a “duuuuuuude” store… what business did I have going into a surfer/biker shop? While, yes, a portion of the store has that West Coast cool going on, there’s a bigger portion of the store with eclectic and bright gear for a day at the beach or a nautical soiree (yes, for ladies, too!). I was impressed by their selection of designer duds for men – their Vineyard Vines selection was HUGE. As my husband’s birthday is approaching and he’s trading in his city suits for a more relaxed, coastal casual, I had a field day going up to random shoppers, “HEY, which of these do you like?!” They were no help. Because they liked them all. (Me, too.)
I’m a regular stalker on TCB’s Instagram account; but, embarrassingly, I didn’t make an effort to go in there because – again – the whole “Coligny’s a tourist trap” attitude. Now I have a new reason to not go in there: I was about to empty my entire bank account buying up their store. I love love LOVED their selection of sundresses (when I’m not in barre/yoga gear I live in sundresses and maxis). These Yumi Kim dresses were featured on their social media recently and were even more stunning in person (the material is made of clouds and happy tears of baby angels, I swear). I stood staring at these dresses, imagining a romantic date night with my dashing fellow or fancy brunch date with the ladies… but let’s get real, I’d happiest wearing this while stuffing a Market Street Cafe gyro in my face.
Y’all! Francesca’s is the best! The ladies working their are just the nicest, and it smells so good and their appearance is warm and inviting. I love all their super cute clothing pieces, their quirky little gifts, their darling shoes – but their statement necklaces are where it’s at. They totally nail their layering with the displays and I want. them. ALL. I love the blend of natural wood and fibers with cool metals. Bonus – you can mix and match!
Okay – Desigual is kiiiiind of my new favorite thing. Thank’s to Bennali’s. They carry a wide range of beach and outdoor gear for guys and gals. Their range of high quality, sturdy brands is fantastic – and having never heard of Desigual, I was in love with their bright patterns and functional design. I mean, look at these sneaks! Bennali’s is one of the few stores in the area who carry Desigual, and they had tons of fabulous pieces there.
My favorite thing in there, though? KEENS! Glorious Keen shoes! Oh man, how they’ve grown up their styles – a far cry from their glory days when I was in high school (which will always have a place in my nostalgic little heart), I slipped these bad boys on… they were understated and comfy and totally super cute. For someone with crummy runner’s feet like myself, these were a dream.
And for good measure, I had to let y’all know they have THE best summer hat selection. This Tommy Bahama hat would be a perfect gift for dapper fella in your life.
This store was the cutest – lots of novelty tops and super affordable trendy items like sandals, summery shorts, and sundresses. But my favorite thing about Blue Moon was their selection of quirky, sassy tank tops. I’d totally pair these with my favorite barre leggings for teaching or taking class. (Pssst… and tanks range from $17-20!)
My car was parked not too far from this place, so I figured it was worth a look before I headed out for the afternoon. I’m so glad I went in. The girls who worked for there were chatty and friendly. The owner was the nicest, most helpful person I had ever met. There was a fun selection of Hilton Head gear, funky art pieces, and more upscale casual clothing. Immediately I was drawn to these wristlets and messenger bags by Sloane Ranger, and the owner said they were a great company and an insanely popular brand in their store. Their patterns were so stinking cute. And get THIS: Their wristlets hold your phone – like there’s a separate middle pocket designed exactly for that. Yes, even us big boy iPhone 6 Plus users!
Y’all, I love summer, I do… but after a long, busy, wacky summer here on the island, I’m craving that back-to-school time of year (sorry, kiddos). While I’m long out of the academic game, I still have a weird obsession with school supply shopping… These Vera Bradley planners and pens and covers were just too much fun. And I was wondering if I could get away with using a VB backpack as a camera bag for sessions and wedding season. Seriously, is that weird?
And because my sweet little niece just turned 1 year old and all my friends are bringing the most squishy faced babes into this world, I was thrilled to see their CUTE baby/toddler collections with option to monogram pieces. While John and I are far from making these purchases for ourselves anytime soon, I can enjoy their adorableness on behalf of others in the meantime.
And there you have it, folks. Just when I thought our little island community couldn’t get any cooler, I’m thrilled to have another recommendation to add to my ever growing list of favorite places in Hilton Head. And be warned – you come for a visit, I’m probably taking you there to explore again with me. No fanny packs required.
Hugs & High Fives,