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Injector SystemSometimes inspiration is just the start of something big, and all it needs is the right encouragement and support.  Just ask Dan and Louise Hodges. The Hodges family moved to Beaufort from Charlotte in 2007, with their two daughters, Hunter and Ellen. They formerly owned a landscape design/construction business and relocated to the coast to cater to the second homeowner market. But their timing couldn’t have been worse. It was the beginning of the economic crisis, and their business began to suffer.

They started brainstorming new business ideas while learning to adapt to the coastal environment. Given their background in landscaping, they couldn’t help but notice the relative absence of outdoor living spaces as compared to their home in Charlotte. 

“People don’t utilize their backyards as much here, and I don’t think it’s because of the heat,” says Louise. “It’s because of the bugs.”

0313_begreen-001Be Green Packaging still growing plans in Ridgeland

Walk through Be Green Packaging, a nondescript plant in Ridgeland, and you may see a few familiar sights, depending on your choice of razor.

 

Nearly 1 million people filed for bankruptcy in the United States last year. In the Lowcountry, personal bankruptcy cases are heard in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston.

Monthly waited in line with people trying to get out from under their debts, and found that sometimes the real  story starts with Chapter 7.

 


 

shutterstock_69000391On a dreary, drizzling January morning, they file into the nondescript office building in the middle of Charleston’s historic district. They come from cities and towns like Conway, Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Edisto Island and Ridgeland.

There are young and old people, couples leaning on each other, single women and single men, black, white, Hispanic.

There are few smiles, and a feel of jangled nerves and tension permeates the atmosphere. That’s because these people are all heading into the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of South Carolina. They are not alone. Almost a million people in the United States filed for personal bankruptcy in the first three quarters of 2012, according to federal records.

On this day as petitioners file into the courtroom, a clearly angry man storms out cursing and yells to the others that he “hopes you have a better day in there than me!”

Most of the cases take about 5-10 minutes. There are no red flags and the lawyers and their clients file out. But there are several cases where Trustee Kevin Campbell picks apart the filing and questions the petitioner in-depth, particularly about what may be hidden assets.

mayan_vinnie_hchocolateA man usually knows he is on the verge of a big idea if the woman in his life rolls her eyes.

Bluffton resident Vinnie Ferullo learned this firsthand a little over a year ago. While reclining on the beach in Aruba, an idea came to him to save humanity from the end of the world. With chocolate.

“Why can’t you just sit here and watch the women in the bathing suits?” Sandy Ferullo said at the time.

The retired owner of a New Canaan, Connecticut-based home-heating oil company, Ferullo ignored his wife, sipped his pina colada and turned to his lifelong buddy, Nick Monte. Monte owned a candy story in Vermont, and Ferullo enlisted his help in creating the confection that could save the world.

money-scarfaceAs Al Pacino said in the movie Scarface, “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power.”

Al Pacino’s drug lord may not be the best moral compass for you to follow in the New Year, but we must allow that from a purely fiscal perspective, he makes a valid point.

In short, if you want to get anything done, you’d better have your financial house in order first. That applies to small business owners, the man in the street and, yes, even fictional gangsters.

And with the dawning of 2013, we’re all feeling like expanding our own financial empires, and Monthly feels like getting you there. So read on for some smart financial tips for 2013.

 

readers-choiceBehold, the power of the people. Thousands upon thousands of you voted in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, bestowing your accolades on these, the standard-bearers of excellence in Lowcountry food, business and service. Stand and be recognized, Readers’ Choice Award winners. You’ve earned it.

Photos by Rob Kaufman unless otherwise noted.

 

mayan-chocolateFrom the “Take a bite out of the apocalypse” dept.:

If you’re like us, the (possible) coming apocalypse of Dec. 21 is really bumming you out. After all, the end of the world affects us all, since that’s where we keep all our stuff.

Question 1: You are interested in opening a business on Hilton Head Island. Where do you go for up-to-date information about doing business here?

Question 2: You already have commercial property here and are looking for opportunities to redevelop it. Where do you go for that?

You may not like either answer.

gift-2At this time of year, we are often reminded that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. But there are a group of local businesspeople who are living that mantra year-round by taking part in what’s being pegged as a “gift economy.”

Simply put, a gift economy is a type of economic system in which goods and services are given without any expectation of reward or payment. According to the New World Encyclopedia, “A gift economy emphasizes social or intangible rewards, such as karma, honor, or loyalty, for giving.”

April Lewis, owner of The Art of Yoga on Hilton Head Island, is an adherent of the practice. Her studio doesn’t charge fees for its services, which include yoga classes, herbal consultation, holistic healing and massage.

“It really is a simple idea about getting what you give,” she said. “People think that way during the holidays, but we hope people will think about that concept year-round.

“It’s all about the honor system. When we tell people the fee is whatever they want to pay, some of them say, ‘Wow, that’s awesome,’ and some people want a ballpark figure of what to pay. But that’s the fun of it – seeing people’s faces when we explain that we’re a donation-only business.”

So how well does it work? Marty Crocker, a massage therapist at The Art of Yoga, says it is simply amazing.

alphabetsoupsfx

How do you spell success? For Hilton Head Island’s Ryan Martz, it’s as easy as A-B-C.

OK, so there’s a little more to it, like having an uncanny eye for the world around you, turning a photography hobby into a thriving business empire and having fun the whole time you’re doing it. But really, it comes down to 26 simple letters hidden everywhere you look.

Martz has created a thriving business using photographs of landmarks and pretty much any other item that cleverly resemble letters of the alphabet. Customers at their bustling Coligny Plaza kiosk choose 4-by-6 photographs of these letters (and variety is the order of the day — a simple “D” can be anything from a letter drawn in sand, a half-moon transom, a guitar pick, or even the Salty’s Dog’s hat) to spell out a word. The letters are then framed on the spot and, voilá, customers have a unique keepsake.