Not all furniture is created equal, and Rachel Powell wants customers to know what they’re buying.
“You can get a piece that lasts, or you could be getting into something that will break way before [your] financing is over,” says Powell, who owns Southern Charm Furniture and Design with her husband, Matthew. “We know this is not a topic everyone studies, so we just want to take the time to teach them the difference.”
As they shop Southern Charm’s 15,000 square feet of showroom space, Powell promises her guests guidance in a “relaxed and inviting atmosphere.” A coffee bar and calming Christian music from K-Love set the tone for a positive experience, she says.
“Our award-winning design team will take the time with our clients to listen to their needs and their vision…,” the owner adds. “Southern Charm wants to take the time to learn about the family to make sure we make it not only beautiful, but functional for them.”
Although the business recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, Powell says it was years in the making. Both she and her husband grew up in the furniture and design industry, with Powell starting to work with her mother in a furniture store at age 15.
“She is my role model, and I loved taking every chance I could learning things and watching her,” Powell says. “I knew I wanted to be just like her and make her proud of me one day.”
Both members of the husband-and-wife team once ran multi-million dollar enterprises, she adds, but “it was always a dream to own our own business.”
“We truly thought it was out of reach,” Powell says, “but after a long time and a lot of praying, it seemed like it all started falling into place.”
Discussions began about three years ago, then an opportunity arose at the Gulfport building Southern Charm now occupies. Having started with just themselves, the Powells now employ five team members with plans to grow.
Within its first year, Southern Charm already has started collecting awards: First place in interior design and second place in best furniture store in the Sun Herald People’s Choice Awards and best furniture store honors from WXXV. In addition, the business has partnered with Elliott Homes to be featured in its model housing — demonstrating looks that viewers are eager to emulate.
“We have a lot of beautiful rustic furniture pieces made of solid wood that are very popular; we do a lot of custom upholstery so we can mix colors, textures, choose the design elements, etc.,” Powell says. “HGTV has really taken off with the design trends, showing people visually that rustic furniture mixed with the right design elements can be absolutely beautiful..”
The store carries or can acquire name brands ranging from Ashley and Craftmaster to the new Bassett line. If a customer is in the market for accessories, mattresses or window treatments, Southern Charm has them covered, too.
Before they purchase from Wayfair or Joss and Main, Powell urges buyers to check her store first, as they are likely to find the same items at a lower or equal price along with benefits like consultations, warranties and personal service.
Whatever a customer’s needs or budget, Powell says Southern Charm’s goal is to to provide “quality products that they will enjoy for years to come.”
“We are honored when they choose Southern Charm to be a part of their new journey,” she adds. “This is where memories are made.”