FLORENCE, S.C. – O’Harra Mellette Interiors hosted a grand opening celebration Thursday evening as a steady flow of supporters dropped by the North Dargan Street design studio to wish owners Gracelyn O’Harra Elmendorf and Liz Mellette Andrews all the best in their new venture.
Also on hand was Nicki Huggins, an interior designer, producer and expert in renovations who appears on HGTV, A&E and on the nationally syndicated “Fix it and Finish it.”
Huggins teamed up with Quick-Step flooring to film a Web episode about the design duo, having already captured the before and during aspects of flooring being installed in the 1,400-square-foot space
“This space is absolutely stunning. It far exceeds what I thought it was going to be a month ago,” Huggins said. “It’s anchoring this area, and it’s making a very big statement that this is going to be high-end and luxury.”
Huggins said she and her crew have logged about 50 hours of filming for a 12 to 14 minute episode, which is scheduled to appear on Quick-Step’s website in two months.
“I’m so proud of Gracelyn and Liz and the work they’ve done and I’m very proud to be a part of it too,” she added.
Michelle Corley of Quick-Step flooring met Elmendorf and Andrews at the High Point Market in North Carolina two years ago and saw great potential in helping the two with their new business and getting the word out about Quick-Step flooring.
“It’s how people shop today,” Corley said, by learning about products and sharing video clips on social media. “Video, video, video.”
Elmendorf said she and Andrews were humbled that so many folks showed up to share in their joy.
“And we are loving being here on North Dargan and being part of the downtown area renovations,” she added.
Andrews said everything she and Elmendorf do involves fun.
“We work hard, but we play as well,” she added.
O’harra Mellette Interiors with TV Designer Nicki Huggins
JOE PERRY/MORNING NEWS
Gracelyn O’harra Elmendorf, far left, and Liz Mellette Andrews, far right, chat with Nicki Huggins Monday morning during a break in the filming of an episode about O’harra Millette Interiors, an interior design studio slated to open in May. The North Dargan Street business got a big boost from Quick-Step flooring, which provided free flooring and installation and is filming an episode for its website about the renovation hosted by Huggins, an expert on renovation who appears on HGTV, A&E and the nationally syndicated “Fix it and Finish it.”
O’Harra Mellete Interiors, a new design studio on North Dargan Street, got a huge boost from Quick-Step flooring, which has donated its product and is filming the installation with renovation expert Nicki Huggins, the lead designer on the syndicated “Fix It & Finish It” program. Owners Gracelyn O’harra Elmendorf and Liz Mellete Andrews will also welcome Huggins back when the studio opens some time in May and Quick-Step will feature an episode of the entire process on its website.
Posted: Monday, April 11, 2016 9:15 pm
BY JOE PERRY Morning News [email protected]
FLORENCE, S.C. – A soon-to-open design studio on North Dargan Street is getting a huge boost with free flooring and a web episode featuring a renovation expert you might have seen on HGTV.
“I just have to pinch myself,” Liz Mellette Andrews said late Monday morning after she and business partner Gracelyn O’harra Elmendorf took a break from filming all morning.
“I wish I could win a floor,” joked Nicki Huggins, lead designer for the nationally syndicated show, “Fix It & Finish It,” which promises and delivers renovations in a day.
O’harra Mellette Interiors’ new location was buzzing with activity on Monday that will continue today as Huggins and a film crew shot footage of Quick-Step flooring being installed in the 1,400-square-foot space. They also plan on interviewing Andrews and Elmendorf as well as Mayor Stephen Wukela and Ben Zeigler, who will talk about historic preservation, downtown redevelopment and the history of Florence and North Dargan Street.
Two years ago at the High Point Market in North Carolina’s furniture and design mecca, Andrews and Elmendorf met Michelle Corley of Quick-Step flooring. Corley took a quick liking to the design duo.
“I just love their story as best friends and design partners,” Corley said. “It’s just a fabulous story.”
Corley said her company made the flooring donation, as there’s interest in downtown’s roaring comeback as well as learning more about the two women and how they approach their profession. Having an expert such as Huggins help tell the story’s before, during and after aspects for an episode that will be featured on the company’s website was a no-brainer, she said.
“They personally love and have a passion for their work and seeing downtown’s renewal is really interesting,” Corley said. “The big draw is their personal sense of style that they call comfortable elegance. They’re such a delight – just wonderful women.”
Capturing the process of transformation is the gist of the episode, Corley said, noting that Huggins will return for more filming when the studio opens its doors in the near future.
Andrews and Elmendorf both said the filming they’d done thus far was fun and exciting.
“For us, it’s such a positive move to get all our supplies in one place to make life easier and to have a place for our clients to come and see all our inventory,” Andrews said.
Just before taking a lunch break, Elmendorf said, “It’s been a journey.”
“I never in my life thought I’d be doing something like this,” she said.
The design business requires a lot of energy, said Elmendorf, who likened it to “solving a Rubik’s cube constantly.”
No stranger to working out solutions, Huggins said she’s on hiatus from “Fix It & Finish It,” and said the No. 1 question people ask is, Did they really do a renovation in one day?
“We really did it in a day,” said Sam Pietsch, the director of photography for the show who is also at the helm for this project.
“We love this,” Huggins said. “To be able to do what we do and work with (parent company) Mohawk (Industries) and Quick-Step has been great.”
She also feel strongly about redevelopment, which she called an “an American story.”
“Coming from California, it looks like a movie set,” said Huggins, referring to the construction downtown. “Florence is great. We love the South and the opportunity to get to come back and work in the South.”
Zeigler, an attorney with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd P.A., said Monday afternoon that he probably will film his segment today. He has been involved for years with downtown’s revitalization and currently serves as president of the Florence County Historical Society.
“It’s a good story, as the thrust of downtown redevelopment is aesthetic in nature,” he said. “It’s a great nexus there – a new business engaged in creating new spaces but also focused on doing it in a way that is respectful of historical character and making that preservation distinctive. It’s kind of a microcosm of what the whole historical rehab process has been.”
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At this year’s Oscars, the issue of diversity in Hollywood was all but forgotten by the issue of sex abuse as presented by VP Joe Biden, Lady Gaga and the best film nominee Spotlight. And the award goes to…. Spotlight took the Best Picture trophy for the events behind the Boston Globe’s story of systemic abuse within the Catholic church. Lady Gaga’s gut-wrenching performance of her Oscar nominated song, “Till It Happens To You” ended with sex abuse survivor’s, both men and women, holding hands triumphantly on stage. Gaga declared that 1 in 4 women would be assaulted by the time they were out of college and 1 in 20 men. I was stunned and appalled. The stats of sexual assault against women have not changed in the 23 years since I was Director of Marketing for “Scared Silent,” a documentary special on child abuse, specifically sex abuse, that became the most watched TV documentary in television history.
In 1992, Scared Silent became the first “event special” on TV with NBC, CBS and PBS broadcasting it simultaneously. And, just in case you missed it, the following weekend, ABC aired it again. At that time, the abuse stats were this: 1-6 males and 1-4 females. America was still a shame-based society. Sexual perpetrators, like Cosby, or priests, or family members, could victimize repeatedly knowing that most victims would be too ashamed to admit it and if they did come forward, the burden of proof would fall on the victims themselves. Victims did not want to be stigmatized and were not getting the help they needed. Without that help, they were much more likely to become perpetrators themselves creating an endless cycle of abuse. Without intervention, victims often turned to drugs or other forms of self-medication. The cost, both human and institutional, was too great. Scared Silent was financed by USAA, the insurance giant, who realized this was an American issue that desperately needed addressing. It was hosted by Oprah, who had only recently revealed her incest, and it was “willed” into being by the perseverance of veteran producer Arnold Shapiro, known for the pivotal work, Scared Straight, the documentary that brought convicts talking about what prison life is really like to thousands of schools across America. Scared Silent, shot reality-style, had victims and their perpetrators talking about their abuse, how it happened, how it affected them. All of us involved in making it hoped that victims and perpetrators would realize they could break free of the abuse entrapment by speaking up and getting the help they needed. Hundreds of thousands of victims called the toll-free number and were funneled, that night, into local chapters of ChildHelp USA. With phone lines analog at the time, this was no small feat. The lines rang ’round the clock in states across the US for the next month. Did it work; did we move the needle? 55 Million American’s watched the 2 hour special on the same labor day weekend across America. If you turned on the tube that night, unless you had cable and most Americans at that time did not understand why they should pay for media, you saw Scared Silent.When one quarter of any population takes in the same information at the same time, change can happen. But, did it?
I believe Scared Silent in it’s decade and the Boston Globe story in the following one, did make a difference in stigmatization. Victims are much more likely to come forward now knowing that they are not at fault and, mostly, will not be ostracized. And, if the stats are accurate, crimes against males have dropped substantially. But, today, over two decades later, the assault rate against women is exactly the same. Let’s attach some numbers to that. If there are 160 million females living in the US, 40 million of them will be sexual assault victims by the time they are 21. That means that all of us know not just one victim, but many, way too many. Is this a hallmark of an enlightened society?
With so much “out in the open” today, how is it that women are still getting attacked in the same disturbing numbers? And, now that we’re no longer an “analog” society, there are so many other ways women can be victimized.
This week, Erin Andrews testified in her 2009 civil stalking case. What many of us learned for the first time is that when the video of her naked in her hotel room went public on the internet, her then employer ESPN would not allow her back on the air till she did a damage control interview. As the Washington Post reports “to dispel suspicions that she had staged the whole thing to gain greater publicity.” Really? Why would an established, respected journalist even consider potentially harming herself with a salacious stunt? Just 7 years ago, ESPN did not believe their own talent and subjected her to further on air humiliation. Every single day since then Erin receives a degrading tweet or message with a shot from the hotel room video, re-victimizing her over and over again.
In an interview about the Andrews case on NPR, writer Mary Elizabeth Williams, who often writes on women’s issues, said that she gets threatening tweets and messages every time she publishes a piece on women’s rights. Other female commentators on politics or women’s issues interviewed this week confirmed that this is also their reality. This is the hostile climate that American women live, breathe, raise children, work and, generally, survive in. It is not one that women can thrive in in the way that is their birthright. http://www.salon.com/2016/03/01/the_endless_shaming_of_erin_andrews_when_a_woman_is_sexually_victimized_online_the_damage_endures/
“The Hunting Ground,” the documentary about rape on college campuses that Lady Gaga’s song appeared in has received plenty of scrutiny and controversy since it was released. But, the sad truth is that college campuses are no longer safe havens of learning when students have to be on alert at all times. Campus parking lots and parties may as well be south central LA. Twice I had to be escorted to my car when attending class at UCLA because of campus assaults. Sound like other places on the planet where women and education don’t peacefully co-exist that you may have heard about?