By Lanier Laney
This has been a big year for Cherimie Weatherford. Her husband changed jobs, she had a baby and opened a women’s clothing boutique called SugarBelle on Ribaut Road, all the while continuing her real estate business and writing column for The Island News.
If you’ve read her columns you know that Cherimie is a funny, self-deprecating straight-shooter with a big heart. She famously dubbed herself “Backwoods Barbie.”
But her store is anything but backwoods — it is chic, urban, Southern and fun. SugarBelle’s motto is “Sweet Southern Style” and the store carries contemporary clothing such as stylish work attire, casual and cocktail dresses, Level 99 Jeans, Blu Gertrude jewelry, Western style boots, riding boots, sweaters, tops/blouses, scarves, plus a complete line of seamless wear (camis, leggings, slips).
Cherimie grew up a Mississippi belle. When she had to come up with a name for the boutique, she said, “My grandmom always called me sugar this and sugar that, so SugarBelle seemed natural.”
She met her husband, Reed, after she moved to Beaufort seven years ago. Cherimie said, “Reed and I actually met on the sandbar, my very first trip to the legendary lot. He walked right up to me and said ‘Hey.’ Apparently it was one heck of a ‘hey.’ ”
They just welcomed their first child Mary Eleanor in October. Reed said, “One of my favorite things about my wife is her love and dedication. She goes above and beyond to make sure that Mary Eleanor, our daughter, and myself live each and every day to the fullest. She always has other people’s interest and concerns before her own. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am.”
Good-natured Reed, who was raised in Beaufort, is the head golf pro at Sanctuary Golf Club at Cat Island and previously worked at Ocean Creek Golf Club at Fripp Island. Says Reed, “When we entertained the idea of her slowing her real estate career down to pursue a new interest, I never had a doubt. The success she had in real estate made a lot of people question, Why would she stop?”
Cherimie adds, “I wasn’t ready to give up years of hard work in real estate but was at a point where my staff and coworkers could handle many of the daily tasks without me. I am fortunate to be surrounded by incredible professionals that I can trust to maintain my level of service.”
The people who know her the best knew the idea of SugarBelle would be a success. And after only being opened six months, SugarBelle was awarded The Beaufort Gazette’s Best of Beaufort for women’s clothing and The Island News’ Favorites.
Reed says, “Take her ideas and determination, mix it with some Mississippi soul, out comes SugarBelle. Hard work goes a long way; Cherimie’s will to succeed is second to none. We discussed the idea, and before we could finish our conversation you could see the wheels in her head turning. Next thing you know we have boots flying everywhere and women all over Beaufort telling us how amazing the shop is. I just smile and say thank you, and think about how Cherimie has touched so many people. It’s who she is and will always be. SugarBelle has allowed so many more people to see that, I’m just lucky enough to be able to experience it 24/7!”
Her philosophy behind the shop is unique because the clothes aren’t the top priority. Cherimie said, “Women need each other more than they need designer shoes.” And in this same “woman supportive” vein, she says her shop is really about acceptance.
“I felt there was a need in Beaufort for a small place for women to go that offered affordable, unique clothing but also fostered a sense of acceptance in a world where women can buy anything, but acceptance,” Cherimie said. “Basically I wanted that feeling that all women have when they can browse their best friends closet for just the right outfit. I consider SugarBelle just that.”
And, yes, there is an actual bell at SugarBelle — two of them.
Cherimie said, “After being opened only one week I was so tired of hearing women bash themselves in our dressing rooms. Tears would often flow as they describe their bodies as being anything but OK. Size 2’s would complain about not enough curves while size 12’s would damn all food. It saddened me to hear even the most beautiful of women talk about themselves with such contempt. I immediately reverted to my roots. I brought in two cowbells. Anytime a woman started insulting herself or others, I would ring my cowbell with glee. At first it (literally) scared the pants off of many unsuspecting souls, however, it quickly caught on. All of our customers now know that if they want to beat themselves up, they best not do it at SugarBelle.”
Cherimie adds, “SugarBelle is a place where women laugh, cry and play dress up all in the same visit. Women of all ages, shapes, and walks of life come through our door with their own set of worries. We laugh about life while choosing the best pair of jeans, we giggle about insecurities while zipping up dresses. And, even if just for a little while, women feel beautiful, important and perfectly capable of taking over the world.”
And both she and Reed love Beaufort. Cherimie said, “There is no place like Beaufort. I have lived in the biggest cities to the smallest towns and nowhere held my interest until Beaufort. Having the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors 90 percent of the year, the blessing of being surrounded by a landscape that artists crave and seeing everyone I know at the local grocery store fits me just fine.”
As for the future, Cherimie wants to continue helping others to reach their goals and feel their best. Also, there are plans afoot to expand the store and add online shopping and even hire a complete website staff.
GET IN TOUCH:
• SugarBelle is located at 1440 Ribaut Road, Port Royal, SC, 29935. Call 843-379-4141. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Or you can shop directly from the SugarBelle Facebook page.
• For your real estate needs, contact Cherimie’s team at Ballenger Realty, Cherimie Crane & Associates, call 843-812-2090.