Adornments for women, gear for men—that’s the tagline of Henry & Eva, a Mount Pleasant boutique owned by husband and wife Jeff and Wesley Kennedy.
It’s a fitting description. The store, which has been open for about a year, features a huge variety of items from clothing, jewelry and candles to an impressive collection of handmade knives. It’s a store where when you say, “There’s something for everyone,” you’re actually telling the truth. “We didn’t have a specific, clear-cut vision for the store,” says Jeff. “We kind of said, ‘Let’s just put it together and see what happens.’”
Wesley has worked in retail for many years in many different capacities, and she owned two shops upstate before moving to the Lowcountry. Opening Henry & Eva was a major career switch for Jeff, however. He grew up working in the family’s scrap metal business in Laurens County, South Carolina. After college, he returned to the business for the next 25 years. During that time, he and Wesley got married and raised a daughter, who’s now in college. Then Jeff’s family decided to sell the business, so he and Wesley came up with the idea of opening a store. “He needed to do something fun and for himself,” Wesley says. “He’s not the type to sit still.”
Initially, the store was going to be only for men, with handmade knives as the main product. Jeff is a knife enthusiast and has discovered many fine lines from around the world.
But one day, the two were enjoying a visit to Savannah when they began to debate what to call Jeff’s soon-to-berealized store. “My grandfather was named Henry, and I knew I wanted to use his name,” Jeff says. “But I just couldn’t figure out a name. Wesley had been doing some research on her ancestry and told me about her great-grandmother. Her name was Eva Stone. I thought Eva was a great name, so I said to her, if you ever open a store, there’s your name.”
“From there,” Wesley says, “we decided we should appeal to both men and women, calling the store Henry & Eva.”
While the knives would be a mainstay of Henry & Eva—in fact, it was Jeff’s grandfather who got Jeff into knives when he was younger—the couple decided to start looking for women’s products as well. “We brought in products we’ve owned and used,” Wesley says. In her search for creative designers, Wesley uncovered a New Zealand-based designer named Kate Watts who makes beautiful, handmade gloves and scarves, and the local jewelry line 3 Little Beads.
On the men’s side are leather goods from Satchel & Page, the men’s candle line ManCans and, of course, Jeff’s knives. Bestsellers in that category are a line out of Travelers Rest, S.C., called Woody’s Handmade Knives, and a Norwegian line called Helle. “Woody’s Handmade Knives are one of our biggest draws,” Jeff says. “He makes oyster knives and fillet knives as well as many other styles—they’re very popular.”
The boutique focuses mainly on unique pieces made by smaller companies or by individuals. They lean toward American-made products when possible. Another focus? De- signers and products that support worthy causes. “We have several lines that give back, like Chavez for Charity,” Wesley says. “Chavez for Charity makes bracelets in different colors to support 10 different charities, ranging from the Matthew Shepard Foundation to the Whole Planet Foundation.”
The line also has something they call The 11th Project, which allows retailers to sell white Chavez bracelets to support a local charity of their choosing. At Henry & Eva, that’s the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program.
The couple finds many unusual products at market in Atlanta, but they also research items online that they think would fit well into Henry & Eva’s eclectic mix of goods. (All told, the store carries more than 80 different lines). Sometimes, they get recommendations from customers.
And that customer interaction is part of what makes owning Henry & Eva such a pleasure for the Kennedys. “It’s quite a change from the scrap metal business,” Jeff says. “But I really enjoy it.”
Elizabeth Pandolfi is a writer and editor living in Charleston.