By Shelley Hill Young
Teeny Morrison was searching for a small office outside of her home for her interior design business. She was looking at space above 284 King St., and her real estate agent mentioned the ground floor was vacant.
“He was like, ‘You probably need 10 artists to fill the space,’” Teeny recalls, looking down the long hall of the 3,600 square-foot space. “I said, ‘Give me 24 hours.’”
Teeny contacted some of her closest girlfriends. She has known abstract painter Anna Bett Moore and artist Millie Sims since middle school in Charlotte. The three friends had done pop-up art shows with photographer Anne Rhett. Photographer Julie Livingston shot Teeny’s engagement photos. Teeny works with interior designer Maura Torpe as a representative for Loro Piana fabrics. Teeny also reached out to friends of friends and women she admires on Instagram.
By the end of the day, 11 women had signed on to work collaboratively in The Vault on King, a space that formerly housed College of Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley Jr. Center for Livable Communities and was originally Citizens and Southern National Bank of South Carolina.
A month and 70 gallons of white paint later, the women opened the doors to their new space.
“She’s our jewel box on King Street,” Teeny says proudly.
There’s three artists, a furniture maker and sculptor, three photographers, two interior designers, an event planner and a fashion designer. Each has her own space to display works and meet with clients. The last of the women, fashion designer Alice Colin, founder of Made En France boutique, moves in this month. The women are holding a Bastille Day party 6 to 9 p.m. July 14 with live music and champagne to celebrate the launch of the Made En France brand.
Some of the women recently left corporate jobs to focus on their creative passions. Some still work other full-time jobs. They range in age from 26 to 52. Three are mothers.
“We all juggle multiple jobs. We are strong women,” Teeny says. “We all have highs and lows, strengths and weaknesses.”
“We all support each other where one leaves off,” adds Anna Bett. She says the women aren’t interested in competing with each other or other artists, and see the space as an opportunity to lift up other women.
Teeny describes The Vault as a collaborative work space. You can see the separation of each artist’s style, but it’s also cohesive, which she says happened organically.
“It’s our artists’ playground,” she says.
Open the doors of The Vault and you’re greeted by a lovely mural of a large oak tree with Spanish moss, hand-painted by Millie. The space is part art gallery, part chic home design center and part event space. The overall impression is dramatic yet welcoming – a place where you would love to hang out and get to know the artist behind the work on the walls. The bank vault door at the end of the room opens into a smaller room with hanging lights, where you can imagine all sorts of creative uses. The women plan to host pop-ups, trunk shows, fashion shows and dinner parties in collaboration with other artists and local businesses.
The women are all seizing this opportunity to do what they love. And the best part? They get to do it together.
“We all got more best friends through this,” Teeny says.
If you go:
The Vault on King
284 King St.
Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
@TheVaultonKing on Instagram
Art by Whitney Stoddard
The Creative Women of The Vault
Anne Bett Moore
Made En France
Anne Rhett Photography
Julie Livingston Photography + Home
Mille Sims Art
Minette Hand Photography
Events by Reagan
Fine Art Painter + Furniture Designer and Sculptor
Interior Designer + Photographer + Loro Piana Brand Ambassador
Whitney Stoddard Art