Carol Wilson

Starting Fresh Every Day

Carol Wilson had already made a life for herself, the only life she ever thought she'd want. She had a family and plenty to keep her busy, taking care of the house and kids. But new beginnings often come on the heels of an ending-in this case the end of her marriage.

"I knew that if I was going to stay on Hilton Head, I would need to find a career," said Carol, who got her first job after she divorced in 1996. "I began to investigate the mortgage industry through the advice of some friends who knew that I had lived on the island a long time and had a lot of contacts. They just thought it would be a good fit."

Indeed it was, and she soon began working for a local bank. Then in 2004, she joined Coastal States Bank, which had opened only a month earlier. The decision to work for this up-and-coming local company is one she feels proud of, and her personal achievements as a mortgage consultant have intermingled with the rapid success of the bank. Their main emphasis, she says, is on being a homegrown part of the community.

"Our slogan is, 'We're local and proud of it,'" said Carol. "Headquarters is on Hilton Head, so all of our employees are right here. Already today I've been on the phone with the CEO, the president and the head of processing, and we all know each other on a first name basis."

For many people, such personal interactions are like a breath of fresh air after dealing with so many anonymous people over the phone. In many instances, you go to conduct some business and you're talking to an automated computer voice or a person in a call center on the other side of the world. Coastal States Bank is the antidote to such impersonal customer service.

"Most of our employees have many years' experience banking in the area," said Carol, who says she has established many lasting friendships through the bank. "We know our product, which in my case is real estate, and we're glad we can transmit our love of the Lowcountry."

A year ago, Carol moved from Hilton Head Island, where she had lived since 1975, to Beaufort, where she continues to work for Coastal States Bank.

"I've always been enchanted by Beaufort," she said. "I like the Lowcountry feel, the history, the military presence and the beautiful waterways. There's just so much to discover and appreciate."

These are sentiments shared by more and more people who come here from other parts of the country seeking to experience the same things that have enticed Carol for so long.

"When people are looking at buying property for the first time, it's exciting," she said. "I kind of experience the newness of it all over again." It is this passion for her surroundings that help make Carol successful in her newfound career. Having reinvented herself and come out better than ever, Carol is blessed with a sense of contentment and confidence in her abilities.

"My family and my children were my passion and I guess I never thought I'd do anything else," said Carol. "But it's great to know that you can learn to love-and be good at-new things. People need to remember that every day is a fresh start."

Up Close
Grew up: on a farm in Kentucky Mother of: Jonathan, of Pasadena, and Jay, of Mt. Pleasant Hobbies: gardening, yoga and cooking Founder and board member of: Women in Philanthropy, gift-giving circle that provides grants to other charitable organizations in Beaufort County Why this is important to her: "There are a lot of single women in the work force nowadays who are generating income, and it's wonderful to have a way to channel that into charitable outlets." The most important thing about owning a house: sharing it with friends and family so that it becomes a home.