I have had the privilege and pleasure of knowing Dana Taylor on a business level for a while, but as I sat down with her for a cup of coffee one brisk, late summer morning, I did not see a businesswoman in front of me. I saw a good friend. I saw a loving wife and mother. I saw the kind of neighbor who would welcome a stranger into her home. I saw a kind smile and a gentle spirit, and I couldn't help but think to myself, "How could this total sweetheart be such a strong and successful business woman?" As she began sharing her story with me, I saw my own definition of success fade away, and realized how Dana exhibited every trait of someone living a balanced and successful life. Read on, you're about to meet someone truly special.
Dana moved to Bluffton from Lexington, SC two years ago for her husband Gerrick's business, Taylor's Quality Landscape Supply. Although Dana has a master's degree in Speech Pathology, she was unhappy in her career path, and decided to stay at home with her two preschool age children. One day, while riding bikes with her family in Old Town Bluffton, she spotted a charming cottage on Calhoun Street, making a passing remark to Gerrick about what a perfect little gift shop it would make. A few months later they rode past it again and noticed it was now for rent. Without Dana knowing, Gerrick called to inquire about the cottage, and less than a month and a half later, Dana opened Sprouts.
"My mom, [Diane Williamson] has owned a gift shop called Cabbage Patch for nine years in Kingstree, SC, so the thought of owning my own has always been in the back of my mind. I call my mom about everything. First-time business owners typically make a lot of mistakes in the early years, and I have been lucky to avoid some of them because of her experience," Dana said.
At this point in our conversation, Dana paused to tell me an adorable childhood story about her father stowing away on a cabbage truck when he was three-years-old, which led to him earning the nickname "Cabbage" for the rest of his life. Because of this, Dana and her brother were often referred to as "Brussel Sprouts", which inevitably led to the naming of her store. "The name Sprouts really has a two-fold meaning. The first is obviously a stem off of my childhood nickname and my mother's store, but it also has a deeper meaning as well. When we first moved here, I had really hard time getting to know people and one of my main motivations for opening the shop was to connect to the community. When we opened, I told my husband, 'Now I've planted roots and it's time to sprout!'"
And sprout she has. In her year-and-a-half as a business-owner, Dana has learned some important lessons about what it takes to own a business, while still juggling a family. One of the most important lessons she has learned, and her advice to any small business owner, is to keep priorities in line. "From the beginning, my priorities have been God first, my husband second, my children third, and everything else, including Sprouts, falls after those things. As long as I keep my priorities straight, I know I will continue to be successful."
Another key to success she has found is to simply be herself and genuinely care about her customers. In this age of Facebook and social media, Dana believes the best thing she can do as a small business owner is to let her customers see her and her business for what they really are. "The loyal customers that I have do not need me to be perfect, they appreciate that I'm a wife and a mother, and some days I don't have it all together, but that's ok. In this social media age our minds gear towards knowing the personal experiences of people, and the more I let people see the real me, the more I am successful."
A customer recently described Sprouts as "the perfect place to find the perfect thing that you didn't know you had to have." Dana's success as a business woman, and as a person, comes with keeping her priorities straight, staying true to herself, and finding joy in making her customers happy. And, with that, it's no wonder her sprout is in full-bloom!
Family: Husband, Gerrick; children, Trace (5) and Anna Kate (3)
Hobbies: Research, going to market, shopping, walking, spending time with family
Words to live by: Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
Taylor's Quality Landscape Supply began: With a trailer full of pine straw in the church parking lot and a sign that said "Pine Straw: Free Delivery".