During my high school years, I remember dodging orange cones, waiting in traffic on Main Street to make one, simple left turn into the parking lot of Travelers Rest High School. I am one of few that have had the pleasure of watching TR grow up alongside me. From ages 18 to 21, we got a brewery and moonshine distillery (with free samples, might I add), bakeries, creperies, a wonderfully flamboyant ice cream spot, and an actual art presence. But something was still missing, not only in TR, but in all of Greenville:
A gift shop with actually cool, unique (and affordable) items.
But finally, my gift shop prayers were answered and I stumbled into Homebody’s first location, opened August 2015, a single room that was almost as small as my first apartment’s kitchen that had a one person, one cat max capacity (and that was pushing it). My first step into the store was met with shining lights and the sweet sounds of Cherubs singing “buy all of the things here.”
Since my initial discovery of this diamond in the not-so-rough, Homebody has moved to a larger location, which opened in September 2016, for your shopping pleasures, beside Upcountry Provisions and My Sister’s Store. You’ve probably seen Jonathan’s 1972 blue Volkswagen Karmann Ghia shining in the sunlight out front. If not that, he’s probably all but dragged you in by the collar of your shirt to check out the new digs. (But you liked it.)
This eclectic gift shop is owned by the very talented and very lovely Diane and Jonathan Clark – a duo that will adopt you into their family the minute you are introduced. Diane is the main, driving force and concept-dreamer of Homebody; Jonathan spends the majority of his time wheeling and dealing as a Greer Real Estate Realtor. These two met in college at Harding University in Arkansas and have been immersing themselves in many cultures due to Jonathan’s time working for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools. They have lived in 5 different states as well as Mexico, Japan, and Germany, all the while curating and collecting items from these cultures to share with the rest of the world via Homebody. Not only does the shop have many beautiful, foreign pieces, but they also have a strong tea presence from their time in Japan.
I know what you’re thinking: of all the places in the world to move, why here? Well, fate would have it that Jonathan came to visit Greenville in Spring 2015, finding a home to rent after feeling comfortable with Greenville’s vibes, but the deal unexpectedly fell through a few hours before Jonathan was setting foot on the plane back to Germany. To clear his head, he took a drive and happened to see an arrow pointing towards TR. He explored the area and felt like it was a place that the family would like to live. Diane was lucky to find a listing on craigslist that turned out to be a perfect fit. Once they had nestled into the foothills, they were encouraged and inspired by many local business owners like Barb Blair of Knack and Lindsey Monty of the Village Grind, and many of the owners/staff of the businesses on TR’s Main Street.
Diane and Jonathan had been dreaming up designs and collecting products for Homebody many years before they had ever made it back to the States. Homebody was dubbed the right name for the business because the original vision for the store was to carry products that would make people fall in love with their home again, whether it was carrying goods that would inspire cooking, bath and body products to help destress, or items that assisted growing lots of indoor plants. Diane is definitely a supporter of travel, experience, and adventure; she believes that everyone deserves a happy, comfortable, even exciting place to return to.
Despite TR and the community being very welcoming and supportive, the hardest thing they’ve faced as business owners has been – being in a small town, being able to communicate their identity as a business, finding the best way to put themselves “out there” has proved difficult because they are not an “easily boxed” business. “We have a great desire to be unique and provide services and goods that do not exist anywhere else in Greenville County,” says Diane of their business model.
Their business advice to entrepreneurs young and old is, “At the end of the day, it is about doing what you love, but it is very rare that any small business will immediately take off. Sacrifices have to be made if you aren’t made of money in order to both start something and keep it going. The reality is for both small and big businesses that it will take time to get where you want to be. Owning your own business teaches you a lot about yourself, both good and bad sides,” says Jonathan.
But despite the struggles of navigating the new territories they call home and overcoming any challenges that crop of up during the first years of business, “The best part of being business owners has been meeting new people and making great connections with the community. It is gratifying to be able to contribute something different to the public while still being true to what they enjoy and like,” Diane and Jonathan agree.
Homebody’s hopes for the future are trying to work hand in hand with the other businesses to continue to have events like art crawls or first Fridays, but overall the goal is to always be a place that is open to travelers off the beaten path that allows for acceptance, inspiration, and friendship. So, when you find yourself in need of rest or rejuvenation, or want a breath of fresh air, Diane and Jonathan should definitely be your Homebodies.