Walterboro native coming home to run S.C. Artisans Center
by The Press and Standard | September 14, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: September 11, 2018 at 3:23 pm
Kristin Mumford still has the newspaper clipping her mother sent her when the S.C. Artisans Center opened 25 years ago.
“I remember thinking ‘Are you kidding me? The most perfect job for me opening in my hometown?” Mumford said. And that thought has been in the back of her mind ever since.
On Monday Sept. 17, that dream job will become hers when she begins work as director of the artisans center, taking over the reins from retiring Gale Doggette. And the Walterboro native, daughter of Carolyn Connelley and the late Dean Connelley, is beyond excited.
“This job could not have come at a better time,” she said. Although she’s been technically living in Walterboro for the past two years, she commuted every day to her job managing a boutique on King Street in Charleston. “I’m truly, truly honored and excited. I can’t wait to take everything I’ve learned in the last 30 years and use that to help this center and this community,” she said.
She’s lived all over the Southeast since graduating from then-John C. Calhoun Academy in 1990 to go to get her art degree from The College of Charleston. She then moved to New Jersey, thinking she’d use that degree. But she quickly found out there weren’t many paying jobs for art majors. “Think of somebody who’s 22 from South Carolina in New Jersey,” she laughed. “The only place I could get to was a shopping mall.” So she got a job as a store manager.
She’s since worked all over the South, managing a variety of stores, including the Walterboro Belk from 2001-2004. But about two years ago, when she was coming home from Orlando to check on her mom after Hurricane Matthew, she felt “there were so many things saying ‘You need to come home.’ When I went past Doctors Creek, my GPS kept telling me I needed to turn. I knew it was quicker to go through Walterboro. But then I thought that’s where my dad is buried. He’s sending me a message. I waved and said ‘I got the message. I’m going to come home.’”
So she did. She moved into the little house next door to her mom and got the job in Charleston. But the timing of the artisans center job was perfect, as her mother just turned 79 and working in Charleston makes it hard for Mumford to always be here when needed for doctor’s appointments or picking up groceries. “For a lot of reasons, professionally and personally, things just kind of lined up.” She hopes working in the same town where she lives will also offer a chance to keep in touch with her two sons: Jackson, 21, who lives in Atlanta, and Jordan, 26, who lives in Nashville with her two-year-old grandson Kane.
And her mind is filled with ideas and plans. The center has a great marketing plan and improvement plan, she said, but “I’m excited to get to take it to the next level — to meld the profit and non-profit environments. It’s very valuable for the artists to have this outlet to showcase their work. Online is an untapped resource. So how do we meld the center and social media? How do we get the word out about this beautiful merchandise we have?”
She’s also excited about working with the other business and organizations downtown to “really grow this community, but keep that which makes it unique protected. People just love the Lowcountry. We are so lucky that we have all this beauty where we live. I’m really happy to be home!”