Caitlyn McGuire

State museum celebrates exhibit with 'Bourbon and Bowties'

Local business reflect on bold choices of cotton mill.

The perfect southern gathering usually entails smooth bourbon, colorful bow ties, local specialties and, in one unique case, original advertisements that started the notion that “sex sells.”

In a one-of–a-kind gathering, the South Carolina State Museum hosted its first “Bourbon and Bowties” event Thursday night to celebrate the success of the Winthrop University-curated exhibit,
“Behind the Springmaid Sheets,” before it closes Sunday.

The exhibit, which focuses on scandalous 1930s advertisements from Rock Hill’s Spring Cotton Mill, acted as an inspiration for the local entrepreneurs that gathered at the event.

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate the past and how stepping outside the box made a business really take off,” said Anna Kate Twitty, museum spokeswoman.
I
n the 1930s and 40s, the Spring Cotton Mill was close to complete failure when they made a risky business move. Unlike most advertisements of the time, Spring Mill transformed original artwork of scantily-clad, but tasteful, women into advertisements. Their bold move led to a complete turnaround by 1950.

South Carolina businesses honored the mill’s bold venture by displaying their creative bow ties, inspired by Spring Mill fabrics. Their work was accompanied by food and, of course, bourbon, all to support the museum’s art department.

To make the connection to the past, The Cordial Churchman, a Rock Hill company, even used original Spring Mill fabrics for its bow ties.

The night showed the importance of the local entrepreneur and the extent of Columbia’s local success with skilled work, including local brand Nana by Sally’s handmade bags and Mr. B’s sustainable made-from-wine-bottles glassware.

Noted Columbia chef Kristian Niemi, owner of Rosso Trattoria Italia, used his artful cooking to preview creole dishes and drinks from his newest business, Bourbon, that will open on Main Street in November.

Aside from the already-successful local businesses that participated in the night’s collaboration, new businesses also brought their handmade products and hopeful attitudes to the mix.

“I feel so honored to be alongside so many successful businesses here,” said Rusty Socks, owner of 6-month-old reclaimed fabric bowtie company Titanic Alley. “Being a local business here just helps to encourage creativity, encourage more business to start and bring out the local character.”

The character of the diverse group of entrepreneurs merged together to bring the success the museum had hoped for.

“‘Bourbon and Bowties’ really shows local partnership among businesses,” Twitty said.


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