By 'design': Rachelle's journey of business success

By 'design': Rachelle's journey of business success

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Rachelle's Island

Congressman James Clyburn presents Rachelle Jamerson with the National Minority Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999.

Orangeburg native Rachelle Jamerson-Holmes -- an award-winning fashion designer, entrepreneur and motivational speaker – in 1992 decided to bring a relaxing and exotic boutique to Orangeburg by establishing Rachelle’s Island.

Yet her success as a woman in business did not begin there.

After graduating from Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and Winthrop University, Jamerson-Holmes lived in New York perusing her dream as a model and fashion designer. She opened her Fashion Design Studio in Harlem, where she designed and tailored custom apparel for men, women and celebrities such as Rap Artist Kool Moe Dee. Rachelle studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, worked for acclaimed fashion houses such as Mary McFadden and Holly Lueders and won numerous awards while living there. In 1990 she was named New Day Associates/Hennessy Cognac Designer of the Year and later captured the National Council of Negro Women Service Award.

Her designs have been featured at the acclaimed Apollo Theater, MTV Style Report, BET Screen Scene and The New York Times feature on young designers.

During her time in New York, Jamerson-Holmes produced a fashion extravaganza show titled, “The Hottest Show Off Broadway.”

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“I brought the show home to Orangeburg for three years and after the 1992 show, I opened a Rachelle’s Island pop-up store for 90 days in a small location on Russell Street to service customers who wanted purchase my designs and I’ve been here since," she said.

Over the 26 years of Rachelle’s Island, Jamerson-Holmes has continued to raise the bar.

In 1994, she decided to expand. She purchased the yellow house in the heart of downtown on the corner of Middleton and Fischer streets and named it Rachelle’s Island Boutique.

The vision for Rachelle’s Island is to design and develop an oasis downtown comprised of shopping, dining and lodging. In 2001 she purchased the two houses adjacent to Rachelle’s Island Boutique on Fischer Street with the expectation to develop them into additional avenues of revitalizing the downtown area. That vision is materializing and has expanded into a brick-and-mortar travel agency, Island Cruises and Tours, and a beautiful bed and breakfast, Thee Matriarch.

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With the opening of the first boutique Inn and event venue in Orangeburg, Thee Matriarch Bed & Breakfast, Meeting and Events Venue in 2007, Jamerson-Holmes utilized her first love of fashion and designing to create a gorgeous rental facility and three relaxing accommodations in which she uniquely named, designed and themed each room in the renovated century-old home.

Today, Thee Matriarch features meeting and event rental space, luxury bedroom suites, and offers both onsite and offsite catering services.

In 2005 Rachelle married the love of her life, Fred Holmes of Charleston, at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe Africa. Their nuptials were featured in Ebony magazine as one of the top destination weddings.

Jamerson-Holmes -- along with her husband, who is chef at Thee Matriarch -- has earned many awards. They include:

  • In 1995, Rachelle’s Island was the first downtown Orangeburg merchant to receive the Master Merchant Award from the S.C. Downtown Development Association.
  • In 1999, Jamerson-Holmes was recognized as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Minority Female Entrepreneur of the Year and became one of three inaugural recipients of the BB&T Trailblazers Award.
  • In 2007, Rachelle and Chef Fred were featured in Success From Home magazine as well as Your Business At Home magazine in October 2008.
  • In 2014, Thee Matriarch garnered national ranking among The Top 7 Black-Owned Bed and Breakfast Inns by Black Enterprise.
  • In 2015, Thee Matriarch was ranked among an impressive list of 29 Best Romantic Getaways in S.C. by VacationIdea dream vacation magazine and also was recognized as one of the 12 unforgettable vacations in the state as posted by the travel website OnlyInYourState.com.
  • In 2017, Rachelle and Chef Fred were chosen to compete in the Couples BuzzFeed Tasty Date Night Cooking Challenge at the Charleston Wine & Food Festival. BuzzFeed released the challenge video in April 2017 and it attracted 4.4 million viewers.
  • In 2017, the inn was one of three B&B's featured in the Official South Carolina 2017 Visitors Guide Discover South Carolina
  • In 2018, Rachelle’s Island was honored at The Orangeburg Legacy of Black Business Gala for businesses that have been open for 25 years or more.
  • In 2018, the inn was featured in Palmetto State Weddings among the 20 South Carolina Bed & Breakfasts Perfect for Weddings.
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