Gwen Rawls spent 24 years working for UPS. Now, she is stepping out on her own – combining her “passion for fashion” with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Rawls will open an Italian shoe boutique in mid-August at Trenholm Plaza in Forest Acres.
The Conway native said she has traveled often to Europe and always has been inspired by the fashions there. “I wanted to bring that to Columbia,” she said.
Rawls said she always has wanted to start a business and shoes seemed like a natural fit.
“Oftentimes, when I was planning an outfit, it would start with my shoes,” she said. “I’ve always viewed the shoes as my foundation.”
Rawls got serious about starting her own business a couple of years ago, traveling to Milan in March to meet with designers and develop her own collection. That trip confirmed what she already had set in motion. “I knew, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do, and I am going to do it,’ ” she said.
In addition to Rawls’ own private label, Gwen Rawls Italian Shoe Boutique also will carry the likes of Roberto Cavalli, Loriblu and Luis Onofre – with prices ranging from $300 to $1,200.
Quitting her career to pursue her passion was a leap of faith that she is glad she took, Rawls said. “It’s a big change, but I wanted to follow my dream.”
A taste of the Mediterranean
The restaurant, which will feature a range of gyros, soups, salads, sandwiches and “feast” plates, will open about the same time as Whole Foods and other retailers in the shopping center. It will be located in a 3,080-square-foot standalone building on the property.
The Birmingham, Ala.,-based chain has one other restaurant in South Carolina, in Charleston.