Charleston has phenomenal food, charming shops, and layers of history. Boutique owner Mimi Striplin shares what’s new around town.
It’s hard not to do a double-take when walking by the Tiny Tassel in Charleston. Inside are glimpses of gingham-print pants, brightly beaded clutches, and, yes, tassels, which are made into earrings in every hue imaginable.
This world of color belongs to Mimi Striplin, a South Carolina native who, after graduating from the College of Charleston, found herself unfulfilled by a day job in corporate communications. In her spare time, Striplin started making what would become her signature product: eye-catching tassel earrings in vibrant shades. The business began as a humble Etsy shop in 2015, but quickly blossomed into a thriving online jewelry brand. In March 2021, Striplin went all-in, opening a brick-and-mortar shop on Spring Street, in the leafy Cannonborough Elliotborough neighborhood. In addition to the famous tassels, the store carries apparel, handbags, stationery, and décor.
It’s also a family affair: the clothing and headbands are designed by Mimi’s mother, Keiko Striplin, who studied fashion in her native Japan. Keiko recently created a blue and white toile print for a new clothing line. “The print has so many little pieces of Black history intertwined in there,” says Mimi, who takes care to stock the store with goods from other companies owned by Black and Asian women.
For Striplin, the Holy City’s historic charm is balanced by a modern, joyful sensibility. “What I love most about Charleston is you can get everything you need, but you can also retreat to neighborhoods like ours, where it’s a little more quaint,” she says. Read on for Striplin’s guide to Lowcountry living.
Up and At 'Em
“Lately I’ve been stopping into Island Provisions, which just opened on our street, for a smoothie or breakfast sandwich. Another beautiful spot to start your morning is Hampton Park, where, in early spring, all the camellia trees are in bloom.”
Paint the Town
“My friends and I never get tired of the First Friday Art Walk, which is run by the Charleston Gallery Association. We usually do that each month and then grab dinner and drinks. A favorite is the pizza at Frannie & the Fox, which is part of the Emeline hotel. Or we might go to Chez Nous. It’s tucked away in a garden and the menu changes every night—it feels like a little bit of Europe in Charleston.”
In the Know
“After living here for 12 years, I recently went on my first walking tour. I did the ‘Real Rainbow Row,’ which focused on LGBTQ+ history in the city, with Walk & Talk Charleston. It was so entertaining and informative. I can’t recommend it enough.”
“I just discovered Boysterous Couture, a new boutique run by two gentlemen who craft handbags, wallets, belts, and watchbands, some of which are made from alligator and stingray leather. They even make bow ties from oyster shells. And of course, there’s J. Stark. It’s a longtime family-owned bag and leather-goods company, and you can go in and watch them sewing. I use my custom hot pink tote every day.”
“I love Emeline, a hotel that opened a couple of years ago. Their store has great prints, clothing, and home goods. I’m also a fan of the Parson Inn, a Black owned six-suite B&B in our neighborhood.”
A version of this story first appeared in the September 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Keys to the City."
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