The Urban Electric Co.’s Director of Marketing takes us for a spin around her adopted hometown of Charleston.
The Urban Electric Co. makes modern lighting that retains an heirloom-quality look and feel. It seems only natural that the designs are bench-made and hand-finished in Charleston, South Carolina, a southern city at the crossroads of the past and future. The town is having a renaissance with a stylish array of dining, shopping, and hotel options.
To take it all in, we asked Urban Electric Co.’s Director of Marketing and Charleston resident Missy Husley to share her favorite spots around her adopted hometown. “I came to Charleston for college,” says Husley. “Coming from New Jersey, I was looking for something warmer and wanted to be by the beach.” After attending College of Charleston, Husley met her now-husband, a Charleston native and worked for two years in New York City “to get it out of my system” before returning to the south for good.
In 2007, Hulsey joined Urban Electric Co., which was started four years earlier by Dave and Jennifer Dawson after they moved to Charleston from San Francisco and saw an opportunity to create custom-made lighting. Started in a small workshop downtown, the company is now housed in a historic naval base just north of downtown, employing close to 300 people.
Husley loves the independent spirit the brand embodies, “We’ve always felt a little removed from the rest of the design world which I think has worked in our favor,” she says. “We’ve been able to carve our own path, which really is quite different from the traditional route that most lighting companies take.” The brand has no physical presence in the top markets; instead, they rely on their websites to showcase their wares to the country’s top designers. Investing in photography, creative assets and strong content has set them apart in the market. “We are constantly working to improve the site and will be layering on e-commerce next year which is super exciting,” says Husley. “We’ll also be sending out the second volume of our in-house magazine, The Current.”
In between all of these initiatives, Husley was kind enough to showcase some of the city’s not-to-be-missed spots. “Charleston has so much to offer in such a small footprint,” she says. “We have world-class restaurants, great shopping, and amazing beaches. There’s also incredible historic homes, beautiful architecture, galleries, and antiques and so much more.”
Husley says that the dedication to work-life balance in Charleston is one of the many characteristics that makes the city so appealing. “I think that is one of the main reasons people love living here,” she says. “That and Charleston has the ability to make every weekend feel like a vacation.”
Below, a guide on what to do around town whether you're in Charleston for a quick weekend getaway or prolonged stay.
For Breakfast or Brunch…
The Harbinger Cafe & Bakery (1107 King Street | 843-637-3410) "This sweet little spot is conveniently located around the corner from my son’s school which makes it a frequent stop for me. My personal favorites are the quiche and avocado toast. It’s got a cute little back patio and is filled with a great collection of house plants and the most amazing smell of cinnamon-spice."
Basic Kitchen (82 Wentworth Street | 843-789-4568) "Charleston is known for heavy food so it was very exciting when BK came along. They have super healthy and delicious options. My favorites are the Cauliflower Buffalo Wings and the Basic Bowl. It also helps that it’s owned the super cute couple behind Basic Projects (Kate and Ben Towill) so their space is beautiful too. They also have killer cocktails if it’s a boozy lunch! Leon’s Oyster Shop (698 King Street | 843- 531-6500) known for its fried chicken and oysters and for having rosé on tap, this place is always buzzing. For lunch, I always go for the Siam Salad or the Fried Chicken Sandwich."
Chez Nous (6 Payne Court | 843-579-3060) "This super intimate dining room is perfect for date-nights and the outside patio is awesome for larger group dinners. Each night they do a completely different menu consisting of two appetizers, two entrées, and two desserts which they tease out on their Instagram feed. You never know what you’re going to get but you know it’s going to be good. Chubby Fish (252 Coming Street | 843-222-3949) is a gem. The mackerel curry is to die for and they serve Life Raft Treats for dessert—too hard to explain, just look up her Instagram."
"Melfi’s (721 King Street, 843-513-0307) is rustic Italian and serves super thin-crust Roman-style pizza. Start with the Bitter Grapefruit Shakerato and make sure to order the Stretch Armstrong Pizza and the Sort-of Spicy Caesar Salad. Or, if you want to venture out of downtown, head over to Sullivan’s Island and check out The Obstinate Daughter (2063 Middle St, Sullivan's Island | 843-416-5020) This is definitely our go-to and we always order the same thing: Geechie Fries, Mepkin Abbey Mushrooms, Ricotta Gnocchi, and the Old Danger Pizza."
"Fritz Porter (701 East Bay St. Suite 106 | 843-207-4804), a design collective with amazing antiques, textiles, wallpapers, and everything in between. Bennie & Coco (50 Queen Street | 843-801-2855), I might be biased because it’s my best friend’s shop, but she does a great job of capturing the casual, laid-back style of Charleston. You’ll find a selection of dresses from designers like Banjanan, The Great, and Carolina K. Hampden Clothing (314 King Street | 843-724-6373) is another obvious stop for high-end clothing and accessories from designers like Tibi, Ulla Johnson, Alexandre Birman, and Lizzie Fortunato. For antiques, I always recommend Antiques of South Windemere (22 Windmere Boulevard | 843-571-2755). They have a great mix of styles and price points so you’re always guaranteed to find something you didn’t know you needed."
"Monarch Wine Merchants (1107 King Street | 843-576-4845) is definitely worth a trip if you love a good bottle of wine. They have a super curated selection and something to fit any budget. Croghan’s Jewel Box (308 King Street | 843-723-3594) is a fourth-generation jewelry store with an unmatched assortment of estate and contemporary pieces."
Our Own Edit Note
Matouk is sold at the wonderful GDC Home (1290 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard | 843-571-5142). Be sure to stop by and shop the selection when in Charleston!
"For cocktails with the best view in town, check out The Citrus Club (334 Meeting Street, 8th Floor | 843-558-8000) on the rooftop of The Dewberry Hotel. The Living Room Bar downstairs is also one of my favorite spots. They have really beautiful cocktails (try The Golden Hour) and the most amazing spicy caramel popcorn. Bin 152 Wine Bar (152 King Street | 843-577-7359) is the perfect spot for a glass of red wine and a great charcuterie board on cooler evenings. Babas on Cannon (11 Cannon Street) is also a great place for an after-dinner espresso martini."
Above images of the Aiken-Rhett House exterior and parlor. Photos by Rick McKee.
"The Gibbes Museum of Art (135 Meeting Street | 843-722-2706) is a great mix of colonial and contemporary art with a rotating gallery space. For a full download, take a Walk & Talk Charleston Tour. Or just go meander the streets south of Broad Street. Make a point to check out Legare and Tradd streets. There are plenty of historic home tours to choose from but I would highly recommend the Aiken-Rhett House (48 Elizabeth Street | 843-723-1159) and Drayton Hall (3380 Ashley River Road). For art galleries, I would recommend stopping into The George Gallery (54 Broad Street | 843-579-7328) downtown and the Charleston Artist Collective (414 Whilden Street | 843-936-2022) over in the Old Village of Mt. Pleasant."
"We always recommend The Dewberry Hotel (334 Meeting Street | 843-558-8000), partly because we did a lot of the lighting but also because of the clean mid-century modern interiors (designed by Workstead) is unlike anything else you’ll find in Charleston. I’ve already mentioned the bars, The Citrus Club and The Living Room—both are top of my list. They also have a killer spa. If you’re looking for something smaller, check out 86 Cannon (86 Cannon Street | 843-779-7700) or Zero George (0 George Street | 843-817-7900). Both are housed in historic properties that have been transformed into chic, cozy hotels. Zero George has a fantastic restaurant in the main house and 86 Cannon has a gorgeous, deep red grasscloth-clad honor bar on the third floor which is great for a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner nightcap."
FOR A SIDE TRIP...
"If you have time for a beach day, head out to Sullivan’s Island. Middle Street has an awesome collection of restaurants and bars - Poe’s Tavern (2210 Middle Street | 843-883-0083), Home Team (2209 Middle Street | 843-225-7427), and The Obstinate Daughter (2063 Middle Street | 843-416-5020) are my favorites - and the beach is just a block or so away. If you have kids, make sure to check out the J. Mitchell Stith Playground and head across the street to Beardcat’s Sweet Shop (2063 Middle Street |(843-416-5025) for amazing gelato afterward."
“Charleston has so much to offer in such a small footprint.”