After 20 years on Inglis Place, Shelley Austin has decided to close Sea Shell Design, but the space won’t be empty.
Austin is retiring and selling the property to her daughter, Mariah Kearney, who owns My Home Apparel and will run her operations from the site.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Austin. “It’s been a big part of my life for so many years, but it’s so fulfilling to have Mariah moving in.”
Austin grew up making and designing clothing, and started selling things 40 years ago, when she was living in South Carolina (where her husband was from).
“I had no money so I borrowed a sewing machine and used old bed clothes to make clothing,” she recalled. “I was an apprentice in Lunenburg and learned screen printing and pattern making. I might get back into the creative part after I retire.”
She operated her business from Great Village for several years, doing a lot of wholesaling, before moving to downtown Truro. At first, she rented the space at 10 Inglis Place, but five years ago she bought the building.
Sea Shell Design will close at the end of April and Kearney will begin operating from the building on June 1. Because she has a month to renovate, her business will not need to close for any period of time.
“It’s quite an emotional experience, because I’ve been working in Sea Shell since I was four years old,” said Kearney. “Didn’t do it because I had to; I wanted to do things. I would say, 100 per cent I inherited that.”
She plans to have a new name for her shop, and will use the upstairs for silk screening.
“I’ll carry some of the same lines and keep it very eclectic, but have a different look,” she said. “There will be a high concentration of local and Canadian made items.
“It’s an amazing location with beautiful windows. People come to Sea Shell as a destination, which is what I’ve always wanted for my business.”
Kearney said her mother has been her main source of inspiration.
“My mentor is someone who lived her passion and always had financial independence. How awesome is that?”
A retirement celebration for Austin will be held at the store on the last Friday in April and everyone is invited.