It's a Family Affair
Where most of us fear working with our family members, Linda Young revels in it. It was natural for her to follow the lead of her elder brother, Willie, when, out of the blue one day, he dreamed up the family business.
"It all started with Willie," said Linda, who is a Hilton Head Island native. "He had a vision of opening an upholstery shop after our mom had furniture re-covered in our home for the first time. The story was, Willie asked Mom how much that cost, and I guess back then it must have seemed like a lot of money, because he said, 'That's what I'm gonna do!'"
Soon Willie was enrolled in school in North Carolina to learn his chosen trade, and after returning to Hilton Head Island, he began using a small building on the front side of the family's property on Gum Tree Road. The structure had once been a community store where Linda's father sold candy, soda, chips and other goods, but by the time Willie came along, it had sat vacant for many years. At the time, Linda wasn't working and she would frequently pop in on her brother to see what he was doing, until he took to commenting pointedly, "I sure wish I had a good seamstress." Eventually, she took his words to heart and enrolled in school herself. In 1982, she started working with Willie.
"It was really fun," she said of those first years in the upholstery trade. "Creating something, making an old piece look brand new-I finally found something that I loved to do."
Linda has a big family: nine brothers and sisters, plus five additional "siblings," brothers and sisters of Linda's mother, Florrie, who were raised as Florrie's own. It wasn't long before seven of them were in the upholstery business, despite the fact that neither of Linda's parents had ever practiced this trade. After 13 years with Willie, Linda went on to work with another brother, Randy, for eight years at his upholstery shop on the south end. In 2003, she opened her own business, called Linda's Cushions and Things.
Then last year, she partnered up with Randy again, and, along with
brothers Walter and Floyd, they run Randy Young's Custom Upholstery and Window Designs in Okatie. Perhaps the reason that the Youngs have been so successful in business together is the unity that their parents encouraged in them.
"My parents were really proud of the fact that we could work so well together," said Linda. "They instilled a lot of values in us, like always trusting and believing in God; and my mom kept us strong and close."
Linda still gets a little emotional when she talks about her parents, both of whom are recently deceased. Growing up on rural Hilton Head, the main form of entertainment was family gatherings-cookouts, trips to the beach, playing softball with brothers, sisters and cousins, and going to services at the First African Baptist Church-and her parents' presence is sorely missed.
"It just breaks my heart that they couldn't be here to see this," said Linda. "But I know they are smiling down on us right now."