By: Crissie Miller Kirby
Growing up in rural Aiken County, we had lots of different trees that would sprout up here and there. They would just take hold of the soil where they were dropped and they would grow and flourish. One of these trees was a Chinaberry Tree. I can’t recall anyone ever actually planting one. They seemed to just appear, take root, grow and flourish, carried here, there, and yonder by the birds visiting within her branches.
Much like the Chinaberry Tree, Trina Floyd has flourished where she was planted and, like the Chinaberry Tree, has offered up pieces of herself for folks to carry near and far from her store, “Chinaberry Dreams Soapworks, Gifts, and Artisan Marketplace,” which is located on Main Street in Leesville, South Carolina.
Trina comes from a long line of women who valued handmade items, from handmade lye soap to beautiful, but functional, quilts. From a young age, Trina watched her mother, grandmother, and other family members make all of these items, and in doing so, she developed a strong desire to be a part of, and to carry on, those talented handiworks.
Her strongest desire was to hand make bars of soap and when her sister, Frana, began building a herd of Nubian goats, Trina gained ready access to fresh goat’s milk with which to begin “Chinaberry Dreams Soapworks” in about 2006.
Finally, in 2009 Trina was able to secure a small location on Main Street, Leesville in which to open a part-time shop while continuing her day job with Lexington Medical Center. The shop began to grow past simply soaps; she began accepting other items from other local artisans and eventually she outgrew the space she was renting. Fortunately, in 2010 she was able to secure a new location across the street from the original location.
Again, the shop and customer base continued to grow and Trina longed to open her shop as more than just a storefront, but to also be a place where artisans could come in and actually teach classes in their medium. Trina dreamed of and prayed for a location that would not only support her dream, but also would assist in supporting her family by allowing her to be in the store full time. For nearly four years, this was her dream, her prayer.
In late 2013/early 2014, Trina’s dream began to come to fruition and in February of 2014 (delayed slightly by the crazy winter weather we experienced this year), she moved into her new, much larger location on Main Street, Leesville. In this new locale, Trina is able to offer more space for not only her own soaps and other wares, but also for other local artisan booths and space to host various art classes. Already she has hosted art classes for children and beginner’s quilting classes, with many, many more on the horizon.
And it’s more than just a personal endeavor for Trina – it is a family affair. It’s not unusual to find her sisters, her parents, and other family members helping out in the store and helping teach classes.
To step into Chinaberry Dreams is to take a peek back into the past, while still being very much in the present. For me, it is a unique opportunity to capture a part of my own heritage, as Trina’s grandmother and my own were sisters. Every time I step into the store, there is something there that reminds me of my own childhood and those wonderful memories of playing under quilts stretched out on frames and women talking and catching up with each other.
So, if you are ever in our little neck of the woods, stop by Trina’s store on Main Street and, as Trina is fond of saying, “take a little Chinaberry home with you”.
Stop by and check out Chinaberry Dreams Soapworks and Gifts on Facebook for information on hours, current artisan work, and upcoming classes.