“Relationships matter,” she said. “They mean everything.”
Angie Miller was talking specifically about the relationships she and her daughter have formed with their clients at their darling boutique on Main Street, Beyond the Threads. But you know what? I think she could have just as easily been talking about the unique and equally beautiful relationship she and her daughter share.
Angie and Makala started Beyond the Threads when Makala was still in high school actually. In fact, it was her daughter’s idea.
We’re all three sitting in the cozy open area when you enter their shop. Angie and I are perched on the luxurious grey sofa and Makala has pulled up a chair from the back of the shop. Their banter is easy and their laughter is infectious. Jane is here to take our photos but she’s quickly drawn into our conversation as well.
Makala saw an opportunity to open a store, Angie shared. Makala nods in agreement. They make eye contact and the daughter confirms her mother’s words. “I was seventeen,” Makala said. And as a senior in high school, she decided that what she wanted to do was to own a store – to open a shop. She had been an avid shopper of a store that had posted a sign about opening a franchise.
After a lot of discussion in the family covering the highs and the lows, the hard work and the effort of being self employed, Makala decided she was definitely in. They made the leap. A little over two years ago they got out of that particular franchise, changed their store’s name and never looked back.
I laughed with the pair and asked Makala if she had known anyone else in high school who was opening a store. “What made you believe you could do that – just open a store?” I questioned.
Makala paused. She’s calm and steady and she thought for a minute. She grinned. “I guess I saw an opportunity and we just started diving into it.” Both mother and daughter laughed a little at the memory, but they still both acted as if maybe starting a store in high school was a pretty normal idea. I loved the casual and humble manner they both assumed as they talked about this actually gigantic undertaking.
Angie has been self employed all of Makala’s life and surely that sort of upbringing fosters independent thinking in her daughter as well.
The duo is quick to admit that they knew nothing about the process of embroidery, making vinyl decals, and customizing shirts two large aspects of the store they opened. “Growing up in the North, monogramming wasn’t a big thing,” Angie said. And we all know she’s right. We Southerners love a good monogram.
From the start, Makala had a plan. She would finish high school early. She would attend college and study marketing and business. Angie would run the store front as Makala finished school, with Makala working both behind the scenes during school and at the shop when available.
And that’s pretty much how it’s happened.
Ish. Makala started at Spartanburg Community College, planning to receive her two year degree. At one point she decided to dip her toe into graphic design, which led her to transfer to USC Upstate, where she is currently in her final semester of school.
“I joked with her and told her I was going to walk with her across the stage at graduation,” Angie laughed. From the side glance and the laugh mom and daughter shared, I’m guessing Makala wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t be all that surprised if that actually occurred. When she walks across that stage this spring, whether alone or with Angie by her side, Makala will have a degree in graphic design with a lot of business classes thrown in. (And a whole lot of practical application as well.)
Sincere and straight forward, both Angie and Makala share openly about the highs and the lows of beginning a business, of working together, of living together, of being both family and business partners. “We’re very forgiving souls,” Angie laughed. She teased about how as mother and daughter they can fuss in one moment but be fine in the next. “Watching Makala grow, seeing how she learns to handle different situations, that has been so good,” Angie shares, with a hint of that motherly pride and affection. But in the next breath, she reminds Makala how they both knew this wouldn’t be easy and you can tell she’s not a fan of sugarcoating anything.
Makala works hard to strike that balance too – to be both a student and a young person, to be a business person and to be enrolled in college courses. “It’s hard sometimes,” she agrees, “To do both work for my real life and work for my classes.”
Beyond the Threads is charming. I might have even been distracted to shop while we chatted. The clothing is well priced and the options are varied. I walked out with leggings and the softest top that my daughters instantly borrowed. (Plus the cutest chapstick carrying keyring.) But what I didn’t realize is how much business the team does in the monogramming and vinyl lettering world. Both Angie and Makala are very hands on and each have different fields of expertise.
If you haven’t noticed all of that equipment in the shop, that’s because they have a second location in Greer. Plus, if you prefer to shop and plan from home – their online business is thriving. Many of their clients are schools and companies, but the options are literally endless. You can stick your decal on your mug, your t-shirt, your car, your Yeti, you name it. If you are ordering one item or six hundred items – they really do have you covered. As they said, it is endless.
After spending time in the shop, it’s abundantly clear why the store is called Beyond the Threads. Besides the clothing – and the embroidery and the personalization options – the store is full of fantastic and unique gifts. Accessories like earrings and bracelets, purses and scarves, but also a wide array of the sweetest baby clothing and baby bibs. (I bet monogramming those bibs would be adorable.) You can put together a sweet gift package with candies and trinkets, with chapstick and more. You can even find a whole variety of Travelers Rest High School Devildogs products. Inside the shop you can also find some items from other small business owners and women owned businesses as well. Often, those vendors are what they call give back companies – businesses that give a portion of their proceeds to a charitable cause. Another priority for them is to buy as much as possible that is made in the United States.
An aspect I appreciate about both Angie and Makala is their commitment to truthfulness. Angie jokes, “We are honest. We can help you with what looks good.” And I know, as a shopper I want that. I want to walk out, happy with my purchases. But even more, three days later, when I am wearing that outfit, I want to still be happy with it.
Angie and Makala talk about how they’ve worked to train their staff to do the same, to focus on relationships with customers over anything else.
One of my favorite parts of the interview (besides the obvious perk of shopping while you work) is hearing both mother and daughter praise the other business owners along Main Street and beyond for their willingness to work together, their joy of sharing the community together. It’s lovely and it’s what we personally are all about as well.
“The response here in TR has been awesome,” Angie shares as Makala steps back to handle a phone call from a customer. Their camaraderie evident as they handle the needs that pop up during our interview. Always working but equally engaged with me and pleasant at each turn of event.
Like so many interviews I have had the sincere pleasure of conducting in Travelers Rest, I left Beyond the Threads with more than a sense of the store. More than a couple entertaining and kind new friends. And more than a really cute outfit to wear the next day.I left knowing that we’re in good hands on Main Street. We’re in good hands buying and supporting local, when what you purchase for yourself or for a friend or for your own daughter is helping to support both the local economy and a local dynamic mother and daughter team.