style & fashion
Dispatches from the Home Front
Dressed in easy looks by Polo Ralph Lauren, two couples in the Charleston, South Carolina, creative scene reflect on the year’s hidden joys and their hopes looking forward
photo: SULLY SULLIVAN
For two Charleston, South Carolina, couples, both with young children and dynamic creative careers, the challenges of the past year also delivered something unexpected: a fresh perspective on the everyday. With bustling lives and full calendars that once left little room for pause, each family now finds themselves spending more meaningful time together—and connecting with their communities in new and lasting ways. In partnership with Polo Ralph Lauren and Dillard’s, we sat down to chat about how the lessons they learned will shape and inspire the days ahead.
Brie & Miguel Buencamino
Miguel and Brie Buencamino, a digital content creator and a Boeing rewards specialist, respectively, are looking forward to the first full year of living a dream fulfilled after a big leap. “During the pandemic, I transitioned from a software job I’d had for ten years to working full-time on Holy City Handcraft,” Miguel says. Previously a side project, the creative company focuses on cocktails and mixology, so much so that when the Buencaminos moved into a new house two summers ago, they converted their dining room into a full-scale home bar. “I’m very thankful Brie was on board with that,” Miguel says with a laugh. Now he spends his working hours in dapper ensembles behind the bar, shooting photos and videos in an atmosphere reminiscent of your favorite downtown haunt. “It functions as a great backdrop, but it was also perfect for entertaining,” he says. Among their ambitions for the coming months, hosting their once-famous dinner parties and cocktail hours ranks high on the couple’s list. “Some of our favorite nights were spent bellying up to the bar, having conversations,” Miguel says. “We’ll be very eager to get back to that.”
For Brie, whose job is now fully remote, the silver linings that emerged over the past year will fuel the family’s free time. “Like most working parents, we were struggling to work from home with Bennett, our two-and-a-half-year-old,” she says. “But so many good things came out of this, too.” Among them was a chance to explore their home turf; when much of the world was retreating indoors, the family began to look outward in search of adventure. “We’ve spent so much time in Charleston’s parks,” Brie says. “I think we’ve visited every single one at least once.” Turns out, beauty was hiding in their own backyard as well: “We recently discovered this amazing tidal creek just behind our fence that leads out to the Stono River,” Miguel adds. Those moments of wonder fill the duo with gratitude. “We’re always saying to each other, Man, we are so lucky to live here,” Brie says. It’s an attitude (and a habit) they’ll carry forward. “These days, Bennett is always asking to go fishing, or to go to the park,” Miguel says. “We never used to spend so many weekends outdoors, but it’s become such a tradition I don’t think we’ll be stopping anytime soon.”
In early October, the Buencaminos experienced another significant change: the birth of their daughter, Anna Gray. “It’s been a huge blessing for both of us to be home during this time,” Miguel says. “We’ve really gotten to see her grow over these first few months.” Brie concurs: “In these early days, it’s hard to be social anyway, so at least we had the sense that we weren’t really missing anything by staying in.” Even so, the duo can’t wait to be surrounded by family, as they were after the birth of their son.
Ben & Kate Towill
As the founders of the design and development firm Basic Projects, Ben and Kate Towill found that the challenges of the pandemic helped prove their mettle—a determination energizing them now. In addition to offering a suite of creative services, the Towills own and operate restaurants and hotels in Charleston, Savannah, and the United Kingdom. “Operating in multiple cities, we never could have imagined a scenario where everything shut down at once,” Ben says. “Trying to navigate those first months taught us a great deal.” As Kate chimes in, “We definitely learned who had grit.”
Those early months were touch-and-go at times, but nearly a year later, the days are looking brighter. “A lot of people told us, if you can weather this storm, you’ll come out stronger, with a lot more wisdom,” Ben says. “That was exactly right.” It helped that within their hometown’s hospitality sector, the Towills and their team were in good company. “The Charleston restaurant community is really special,” Ben says. “Everyone rallied together, and all kinds of great programs came about. We’ve never been so grateful to be a part of it.”
Now the Towills are also seeing the fruits of an enormous undertaking they tackled last year: the opening of their long-in-the-works inn and restaurant, the Post House. In the Old Village neighborhood in nearby Mount Pleasant, the building’s tucked-away location presented a different experience from the couple’s downtown Charleston restaurant, Basic Kitchen. “When we finally did open, we only had the neighborhood to focus on,” Ben remembers. “So we really got to know the community. Difficult as it was to get up and running, our neighbors were so supportive, and it became something of a meeting place for the village.” Today, a spacious patio for outdoor dining and seven cozy guest rooms have already established the Post House as a beloved gem for locals and travelers alike, leaving the Towills excited for its future.
Between professional projects, though, the family devoted more time than ever to cultivating a nourishing space at home. Last spring, the Towills had moved into a renovated home on the Isle of Palms with their three-year-old son, Oscar. “We couldn’t have been luckier with the timing,” Kate says. “We do design for a living, but we finally had a chance to finish all the little things you never really get to in your own home.” The family’s new proximity to the ocean, too, has been a saving grace. “It sounds cheesy, but there’s something powerful about having something bigger than you right outside,” she adds.
At the end of each day, the Towills’ home is a true refuge, where moments of peace come easily. “I think we’ve learned to appreciate the small things in ways we didn’t before,” Kate says. “We’re cooking together more, enjoying each other more. And Ben suddenly turned into an amazing gardener! Our lawn has never looked better.” The couple is expecting their second child late this month—a girl—and when they look back on the year leading up to her arrival, they say they’re grateful for the moments they’ve had together. “We’ve been forced to slow down a bit and notice the things we might have taken for granted,” Ben says. And when the pace of life picks up—and their family grows—it’s a practice the Towills won’t forget.
To shop these looks and more by Polo Ralph Lauren, visit Dillard’s.com.
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