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Local Love: Interview with Candy Shop Vintage

We love working with other local Charleston brands, and Candy Shop Vintage is one of our favorites! From classic Charleston Rice Beads (available at our retail store!) to whimsical vintage-inspired designs, their jewelry is the perfect finishing touch to any outfit. We sat down with owner and designer Deirdre Zahl to learn more about her background, inspiration, and favorite spots in the Holy City.

1. Tell us about a day in the life of you! What's your usual routine? 

I wake up and help my daughter Daphne get ready for school - if it's a nice day we try to walk since it is close, sometimes taking our poodle Birthday. Then I come home, get ready for work and head down to our shop on Cannon Street in Charleston that also currently serves as our office. Myself or one of my employees opens the shop and we go through everything we have on the schedule for that day. That can be anything from straightening and restocking the store, sorting and pricing our vintage jewelry, filling wholesale orders with our Candy Shop Collection line and our Charleston Rice Beads, or planning an event or a new product launch. We discuss marketing ideas, put out new inventory and I work on design, marketing and production, tracking current orders and helping out in store customers. The best part of having a store is finally getting to meet some of our customers face to face and watching what they gravitate to in person. I love going out in the evenings in Charleston - there are so many great places to eat and drink in the Upper Penninsula neighborhood - The Ordinary, Little Jack's, or Goat Sheep Cow North to name a few. I also DJ on the side and often have a party or event around town I might be playing music at.

Candy Shop Vintage/ Charleston Rice Beads - An interview with Deirdre Zahl in Charleston, SC

2. Our customers can't get enough of your jewelry - everything is so chic and whimsical. Can you tell us a little more about how your business got started?

Awww, thank you! Chic and whimsical is certainly what we are aiming for! I started just by collecting vintage jewelry and doing mini trunk shows for friends and family. They were so successful that I decided to work on a collection of designs inspired by some of our best selling vintage styles. I did a lot of research and found out that Rhode Island was once a big hub for jewelry manufacturing. After a few research trips I established some relationships with manufacturers there and our own collection of designs was born. I've now been in business for five years - there have been some bumps along the road - but I have enjoyed every second. The store was kind of a happy accident when I found out this cute little vintage storefront on Cannon Street was coming available and was looking for an office anyway. As we have a wholesale and online retail business, a shop wasn't always part of the plan but it has become a wonderful little anchor for our brand in Charleston.

Candy Shop Vintage/ Charleston Rice Beads - An interview with Deirdre Zahl in Charleston, SC

3. What place(s) are on your travel bucket list? Why?

I'd love to go back to Paris. I lived there in college and it is just a neverending source of inspiration. The French do everything so well - from food to design. We passed through last summer for just a few days with our daughter but I would like to spend a few weeks there next time and really explore some of the shops, flea markets and museums. I would also love to visit Colombia - Cartagena and Bogata specifically. I have a good friend who just moved with her family to Bogata and just loves it and a friend of mine from New York has opened a really well known fashion boutique in Cartagena called St. Dom that I would love to see in person. There is so much good design coming from Colombia right now, from the gorgeous woven Wayuu Mochila bags they are known for, to designers like Mercedes Salazar who is my favorite jewelry designer right now.

Candy Shop Vintage/ Charleston Rice Beads - An interview with Deirdre Zahl in Charleston, SC

4. From running a successful brand and retail store to being a mom to the cutest toddler, it seems like you do it all! Do you have any advice for how to juggle all those moving parts?

At a given moment, something is alway slipping. I think its more of a shifting of focus to different areas that need attention than a juggling per se. Whatever I am doing, whether I am at work or spending time with my daughter, I try to be 100 percent focused on that. I think "having it all" is kind of a myth - there are always sacrifices, but if you are able to nurture the areas of your life that need it the most at the time they need it the most you can kind of keep the wheels from falling off the bus - ha! And I would be remiss to say that my husband is very good at stepping in on daddy duties when I have a work trip or need to be at the store - so there is a lot of trading off.

Candy Shop Vintage/ Charleston Rice Beads - An interview with Deirdre Zahl in Charleston, SC

5. How would you describe your personal style?

I would say it is feminine with an edgy twist. I love to mix vintage and new - high end designer pieces with something I grabbed at H&M. I have definitely gravitated way more towards color and femininity - skirts and dresses - since I moved to the South ten years ago.

{Above: Charleston Rice Beads styled with our Short Alice Dress}

6. Let's say you have a friend visiting Charleston for one day, and you want to show her the highlights. Where would you take her?

I really like to show off the "uptown" neighborhood on the peninsula, which I am partial to since I live here and my shop is here. Cannon street is a wonderful street for local shopping from Candy Shop Vintage of course, to J.Stark, Mac & Murphy and Indigo & Cotton and a sugar fix at Sugar bakeshop to name a few. I love bringing people for drinks at the bar at The Ordinary - they have half priced oysters from 5-6PM on weekdays and their cocktails are perfect and the staff is so friendly. Ice and Pan is a fun, new kid-friendly addition to Upper King Street - it is rolled ice cream - invented in Thailand. Just really fun to watch them make. Callie's Biscuits of course, the burger at Little Jack's and Goat Sheep Cow North for a cheese plate and wine. The George Gallery is also a favorite stop for a little contemporary art fix - Anne the owner showcases some incredible southern artists. Liz Macpherson (of Mac & Murphy) and I are actually working on a printed guide to the Upper King neighborhood to share with our friends and customers.

Candy Shop Vintage/ Charleston Rice Beads - An interview with Deirdre Zahl in Charleston, SC

7. Where do you find inspiration for your jewelry designs?

The heart of my brand is really finding inspiration in vintage pieces that I collect. I am always on the hunt for new one-of-a-kind vintage pieces and when I find a piece I just love, I often use it as a basis from which to build a new collection of designs. For example, I found an oversize Estee Lauder perfume pendant from the 50s (it was a necklace that also stored solid perfume). I think it was actually meant to be a seashell, but it looked a lot like a croissant to me. I also had a bag crush on a Charlotte Olympia clutch shaped like a croissant at the time and I had just adopted our poodle Birthday. So from all of those things, our Cafe Collection was born - poodle charms, a croissant necklace and earrings set, perfume bottles and pearls... Our next collection for spring, in addition to introducing new colors of our Charleston Rice Beads, is going to be equestrian inspired!

Candy Shop Vintage/ Charleston Rice Beads - An interview with Deirdre Zahl in Charleston, SC

Can't get enough Candy Shop Vintage? We can relate. We love styling their Charleston Rice Beads with Escapada Living resort wear, shown with our Alice dress above and Ricki top + Stella skirt below. Make sure to check out their website for even more chic inspiration, then stop by the Escapada Living Signature Store or Candy Shop on Cannon to do a little shopping! 

Candy Shop Vintage/ Charleston Rice Beads - An interview with Deirdre Zahl in Charleston, SC

Escapada Living resort wear for women, from Charleston, SC