One of my favorite stories from my latest book, “Sweet Tea Secrets from the Deep-Fried South” is entitled, Making it Big in a Small Southern Town. Enjoy!
Rural Highway 23 towards Columbia, SC is a beautiful drive through rolling hills, peach trees and manicured fields. As you enter the small town of Batesburg, there are just a couple of streets but down North Oak Street, is a small dress that tells a big story. At the end of this street is Mae’s; simple letters representing over one hundred and seven years of seasoned Southern success.
Mae Buzhardt is an iconic seasoned Southern woman who knows no boundaries when it comes to fashion and being fabulous. She bought her shop in 1963 from another pioneer of style, Lona Ethedge.
It all started in 1916. Women’s clothing stores were not popular, so Lona called on a 90 year-old New York City fashion expert who shipped up to six boxes women’s clothing by train of. With Lona’s good common sense and business savvy she dressed women from all walks of life.
In 1963, Mae began her journey of dressing women and used her skills to attract ladies from all across the country. She used wire hangers and personalized coffee cups for her patrons to both relax and shop for the latest fashions. Her business was so popular she expanded in 1975; she opened another shop in Lexington, SC and added a clothing store for men in Batesburg. Later, Mae added a bridal boutique to her thriving business. I asked Mae some keys to her success; here are some of my favorites:
Top Five Success Secrets
- You must know the back door (business) before you can open the front door.
- Never say, “I am tired” second time you will believe it.
- When advertising use the “billboard” method- never use over seven words.
- The smallest efforts will help customers remember you tomorrow.
- Your strength comes your customers.
92 Years Young
Mae never considers financial status when dressing women; her job is to create beauty in all of her clients. Because of her fashion eye, she has had quite a successful business and dresses some interesting women including: senators wives, California theater personalities, ballroom dancers, a woman won best dressed in Atlanta along with countless women across the country. One of her most dedicated clients, Mae has not seen in ten years. She sends a chauffeur to pick up clothing along with a check.
Did I mention that on her last birthday, Mae turned 92? So what is the ultimate sweet tea success secret? Check out this amazing quote. I did not see myself as a woman, I am a business woman. I had a choice; the only option was to stop and this was not an option.”
Jane Jenkins Herlong is a Sirius XM Humorist, international best-selling/award-winning author, professional singer, recording artist and award-winning professional speaker.
Jane is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and one of the 232 men and women to be awarded this honor including former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the late General Colin L. Powell. Jane has also achieved the distinction of becoming a Certified Speaking Professional by the National Speakers Association.