Octavious Dowling, owner of Gullah Roots, an African clothing store in North Charleston, is really looking forward to February.
“It’s Black History Month and a lot of people will be looking for traditional African garb to wear to all the celebrations that will take place. February will tell the direction that I can go in. Black History Month is going to tell the story,” says Dowling, who has been in his current location for less than a year. He believes God led him to this space after he struggled to a find an adequate place for his store.
“Several years ago I transformed a work trailer into a mobile boutique and I would ride around to different areas to set up shop. But I always needed permission and I never could find out who to talk to. So I prayed about it and doors literally started to open up,” according to Dowling.
Gullah Roots opened its doors at 4391 Dorchester Road, Suite 180 in April 2018 and carries diverse, unique and beautiful merchandise. Dowling says he has a one stop shop.
“I actually started off selling girl’s clothing and then incorporated African wear and those sales surpassed all the others so I brought in more African attire,” he says.
Gullah Roots has suede African print jackets with matching bags and hats in rich purple, beige and black, colorful skirts with coordinating purses and items Dowling says you don’t usually see. “I have patent leather Michelle Obama print wallets and purses,” he adds.
Dowling has also created Gullah Roots Bridal and Gullah Roots Prom. “Prom season is in a few months and I have beautiful gowns and men’s wear.” Dowling says.
Gullah Roots has everything African from art to jewelry and even African drums. “And I do support several entrepreneurs that I carry in the store. One woman makes facial creams and herbal products and another lady makes African themed jewelry. I carry 10k gold custom rings made by a local jeweler. We also have a clothing line developed by some local ladies called Gullah Baby. I try to buy their products wholesale,” Dowling says.
Dowling is a bricklayer by trade and has owned Dowling Construction Company for over 25 years. “I can build whatever needs to be built and now I’m building this business. I can see the growth and potential that God has provided,” he states.
Gullah Roots is open Monday-Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also find more Gullah Roots merchandise on their Facebook page. Also, a big Gullah Roots fashion show is scheduled for February 23 at 5:30 p.m. at Revelation Church Word & Deed (418 Old River Back Road) in Goose Creek. The store phone number is (843) 276-8703.
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle.