Ann Carmichael: From Higher Education to Entrepreneur

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By CINDY CROSBY

When Ann Carmichael retired as dean of the USC Salkehatchie campus at the University of South Carolina Palmetto College in late December 2018, after a 35-year career in higher education, many who knew her best noted predicted that his “retirement” would be a creation entirely to his liking. It seems they were absolutely right.

Carmichael recently added an entrepreneur to his already stellar and impressive resume with the creation of a hat band design called Breezy Beach.

“Several years ago we were boating and my friend and I were complaining about not making an attractive hat that would stay put and provide adequate sun protection,” Carmichael said. “Most wide-brimmed hats have a tight inner band or an unsightly chin bar. I told him that when I retired I was going to add to my Bucket List “Create a device that would hold your hat on your head in the windiest conditions”.

When Carmichael decides something, not much can stand in his way, and this case was certainly no different. “It took a lot of trial and error to make it perfect,” Carmichael said. “The secret of the band is in his physique – which means I had to give him enough weight to be effective, but distribute the weight so as not to cause a headache. This is where my slogan comes from, Blending Science with Beauty.

“After I created and performed several tests on my design, the next logical step was to protect my invention,” Carmichael said. “I worked with a lawyer to file a patent application and submitted a very detailed application. Once accepted, they verified that while there are other devices that hold a hat in place, there isn’t one that doesn’t have an inner band or chin bar. It basically validated what I already knew – if there had been such a product, I would have bought it a long time ago.

“Although my main goal was to solve a problem, but since it’s something that I think others may like, I thought I should share it,” Carmichael said. “I needed someone to help me produce, so I reached out to Cobia Burris, owner of Sweet Dreams, Sewn Seams and Jellybeans in downtown Walterboro. Her sister sews and makes these hat bands for me. Cobia offered to sell them in her store, which I really liked, as I wanted to make them available to the people of Walterboro first. I am a big supporter of local shopping whenever you can because it supports local businesses and helps us grow our economy. ”

Although Carmichael initially planned to launch in the summer of 2022, she was able to move production forward earlier to benefit a good cause. “A friend from Charleston, a member of the Carolina Lady Anglers, wanted to raffle a group of hats as part of their Angling for a Cure fishing tournament which will take place from September 29 to October 2, to benefit the research against cancer. It seemed like another way to promote my product while helping a good cause, so I accepted.

With the weather still warm and the football season in full swing, Carmichael is delighted to see his smooth launch come at an opportune time. “With the people attending football games and the weather still hot, Cobia and I decided to do a soft launch and make them available now,” Carmichael said.

“My signature stripe color is Seabra, which is Irish galic for Zebra,” Carmichael said. “My mum was an O’Shields, so tip of the hat, pardon the pun, but we have other color and length choices as well as some may want to tie a knot in the back or others will want a short tie.

“This project has been so much fun,” Carmichael said. “While this may seem like going in a totally different direction from my old profession, there are parallels. One of the reasons I am so into education is that at the highest level you learn to think, apply knowledge and solve problems. In this regard, this invention forced me to use the same skills that I used every day when I was dean of USC Salkehatchie. The main difference was that there was absolutely no pressure as it is more of a hobby than a business. “

“I absolutely loved my career in higher education, and I will always be grateful that the good Lord used me to serve him in this way, but I was also ready to close this chapter of my life and move on. more time with my family, ”says Carmichael. “I was excited to see what was on the horizon because an educator never stops learning and my personality doesn’t allow me to slow down. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 3 :: 20. He talks to church, but I think he talks to all of us. Expect great things from the Lord if you allow Him to work through you.

The Breezy Beach logo was a collaboration between Carmichael and former Salk student Alexis Jones. Jones, now a graphic designer at Columbia, was hired by Carmichael to finish the artwork.

Breezy Beach is slated to be available this week at Sweet Dreams, Sewn Seams, and Jellybeans located on Washington Street in downtown Walterboro and will cost $ 25.


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