Debbie & Shawn Timen

Heart to Heart

Shawn (left) & Debbie (right)


Once upon a time, fathers initiated their sons into the family
trade, paving the way for another generation to make an honest
living. Now that women are just as much a part of the work
force, wouldn't it make sense for some of these industrious
females to pass along hard-won knowledge to their daughters?

Debbie Timen recognized right away that her daughter Shawn was
a creative type. "She used to love to cut paper into little pieces, and
she cut them nicer than any of her friends," recalls Debbie. "I knew at
that point we had a blooming artist."

But when asked if Shawn displayed an early entrepreneurial streak,
Debbie candidly responds in the negative-hardly an uncommon scenario
with artists. Debbie, on the other hand, had always dabbled in
business, at one time selling homemade chocolate candies out of her
Cleveland home, and later selling women's handbags. Her dream was
always to open a "real" store one day.

In 2000 the family moved to Hilton Head where Debbie helped
her husband with his housekeeping business. When she decided that
wasn't what she truly wanted to do, doors began to open for her and
soon she purchased a gift shop in Shelter Cove. "It felt good," she said
about making the leap from dream to reality. "I never had any fear
about it because I felt like it was the right thing to do. I'm a people
person so working with the customers was easy, and I was passionate
about what I was selling."

By 2004 Debbie had opened two more shops, including Lettrs at
Main Street, which features personalized gift items. However, she quickly
found that orchestrating three businesses at once was a bit too much of a
good thing. ("Talk about insanity!") She sold the first two and stuck with
Lettrs, eventually opening a second store in Shelter Cove. That's when
Shawn got involved, as the opportunity presented itself for her to run the
Shelter Cove location while simultaneously growing her own business, a
graphic design firm called Guppie Graphics.

"I love anything creative, and that's what this whole store is about,"
said Shawn, who can work on her own projects in between customers.
"Our family works closely together with all the different businesses we
have, and my parents are always very supportive of whatever I want
to do."

As Shawn continues to hone her creative abilities, Debbie is grooming
her in the ways of good business sense, teaching her everything
she can about dealing with employees, bottom lines, and all the rest of
what Shawn calls "the down and dirty part."

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity for her to learn this end of the
business," said Debbie. "I feel great knowing that I'm able to give her
this experience."


Up Close:



Hometown: Cleveland
Family includes: husband Ken; two children, Shawn and Matt; Airedale terrier Bentley
Hobby: cooking
Favorite dish: Aunt Lenora's Brisket
Product she's most excited about right now: a beautiful line of porcelain-based serving pieces from a women-owned company; all pieces are unique, hand painted with 14-karat gold and platinum
Favorite things about Hilton Head: the blue skies, the sunshine and the people



Hometown: Cleveland
Hobbies: art, crafts, music, travel and camping
On her radar: the Pacific Northwest and a camping trip to Mt. Pisgah
Favorite band: Umphreys McGee
Favorite thing about Hilton Head: being able to wear flip-flops year round