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#NEWberry: Newberry Empowering Women Nov-Dec 2018

Newberry Downtown Development Association (NDDA) celebrates Newberry’s abundance of successful women leaders: Newberry Empowers Women. Join us as we highlight these amazing ladies who make a difference in our community! 

Meri Ellen Ringer

President, NDDA

FASTTRAC participant, 2008

Downtown Newberry

I started Material Things, Inc. as a part-time business, designing and fabricating quality Custom window treatments, bedding and Interiors. Quality and Custom was our focus and it quickly grew into a full-time job, graduating from a room in our home to a larger facility in order to professionally design and make our products. We have been fabricating Custom window treatments and other quality fabric items for the home for over 25 years - 16 of that right here in Newberry. About 10 years ago, we moved our retail store of gifts and home accessories from Chapin to Newberry and opened The Gallery at 1104 Caldwell Street. We love Newberry - it has charm and character. My husband's parents live here, owned a business here, and when they retired, they wanted us to take over the downstairs and "fill it up" - and we are.

My vision for Newberry isto see a more vibrant business community with additional retail stores offering a wider variety of goods and services, more consistent business hours, and a community that works together for the good of all. Newberry is a beautiful city, with much to offer. I would like it to be known not only for The Newberry Opera House, as a "city of friendly folks" or the host of one of the best Oktoberfests in the Southeast, but also as a fabulous place to shop, dine, relax, and find entertainment.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self isto be fearless. Plan, plan and work the plan.

You would be surprised to knowthat I am originally from Ohio. I came to South Carolina (something I planned from age 10) on a scholarship to Columbia College, met my husband Paul at church, fell in love, married, and now have 2 grown children. I am officially a "Southern Girl" as I have a double name and have lived in South Carolina longer than I ever lived up North - Thank God!

My Favorite Quotes:

“Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt "Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying."

- Amelia Earhart

Nola Craven

​Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry isfor it to become a place where people visit and live. Being at the Ritz Theatre and the Newberry Community Players, I want to continue to provide entertainment and a venue for all of Newberry to participate and experience the arts. ​

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to be stronger in my opinions, ideas, and beliefs. I spent way too much time trying to fit in the mold and path that my family and friends thought were best for me. I know having more faith in myself would have put me on the path I wanted sooner.

You would be surprised to know that I work and manage the lab at Carter and Holmes orchids growing orchids from seed and micropropagation. Additionally, I grow and propagate African violets as a hobby/ business from home.

My Favorite Quotes: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” -Mark Twain “The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” -Mark Caine

Molly Fortune

Executive Director, Newberry Opera House

Vice President, LHAT FASTTRAC 2018 Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is one that is vibrant, people filled all times of the day, artists, food, live, work, play scenarios.  This includes the surrounding neighborhoods as well.  I envision a town that is walkable in all aspects of daily life and encourages this.  I would very much like to see the 4 miles from the interstate to historic downtown be one that leads people to cross over Wilson Road and venture and stay downtown.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is that success is a journey, not a destination.  I live by this every day.  Somedays it’s a quiet unspoken moment that I will try again tomorrow and some days it’s a celebration of accomplishments.  And to always remember you are learning, and if you are the smartest person in the room, you need to pick a new room.

You would be surprised to know that I used to work for the Department of Defense when I started my career. 

I admire my parents.  My mom for going to Law School when I was 6 and my brother was 2.  And for my dad who supported this whole-heartedly and raised us during those three years she was working towards her goal.   

Michelle Bedenbaugh

Owner, Michelle's

Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is to focus on the 3/50 Project in order to stimulate the economy locally.  Raise the awareness of how money cycles through the county, i.e. from the plumber, grocery store, restaurants.  We are an ecosystem. Perhaps, people will realize if I spend my money locally it remains here which will eventually increase people's incomes. The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to eliminate mysticism - look for common denominators and focus on conceptual thinking. My role models are: J. J. Hill, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford

My Favorite Quote:“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way."  - Les Brown

Mary Alex Kopp

Tourism and Events Manager, City of Newberry

My vision for Newberry is for the town to continue to grow and flourish as a thriving community for all her citizens. Newberry is brimming with potential. Some industries and small businesses have taken advantage of Newberry’s prime location between the mountains and the beach, and short drive to the state’s capital. Now our local community and arts culture is rising to the occasion, working to foster the “City of Friendly Folks” to be a lively hub of tourism while maintaining our “small-town-charm.”​

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is don’t fear that you can’t do it. The only way work effectively is to learn how to do it! In college I fretted over what my career path would be because I was afraid I wouldn’t be adequate or that I lacked the knowledge to effectively hold a position. Over the last ten years I’ve had to learn to leave that fear behind so I could learn the tricks and tools of my trade. I’ve had to become comfortable with the fact that I won’t always know every answer and I now relish in the excitement to educate myself when new challenges arise.

You would be surprised to knowthat I’m from Newberry! I grew up in our local public school system and am a graduate of Newberry High. I participated in the high school marching band and played clarinet, played high school soccer (with more heart than skill), was a part of our local Young Life program, genuinely loved most of my classes, and sang in church choir (and still do). I was your average reluctant Newberry adolescent, however when I went to college I was amazed at how well Newberry had prepared me for higher education and the world outside of our town. I never expected to return home, but I’m so glad home called me back! Newberry continues to surprise me each day with all she has to offer.

I admire my mother and father. Mom was always a pillar of strength and exuberance in our house and Dad was the light and joy. Mom is strong-willed and a powerful career-woman. She taught us to stand up for what we believe in and expected nothing less than our best in anything and everything. She taught us how to present ourselves and how to take action. Dad taught us kindness and respect for those around us, even when we didn’t agree. He taught us how to take pleasure in the simple and be in awe of creation by God or man. My parents gave me a great childhood and continue to lead and teach our family every day about what it means to be action-seekers and salt and light.

Christy Eigner

Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is to see more programs for Youth empowerment. Education programs within our school such as STEM, programs for children in poverty areas to have the knowledge of preparing resumes, job interview readiness, big brother/sister mentor programs for kids coming from single parent homes. THEY ARE THE FUTURE OF THIS COMMUNITY!​

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to learn more about investment and retirement at a young age.​

You would be surprised to know I was a high School drop out who decided to go back to school in my 20’s. I sat in a library reading for weeks on how to own and operate my own business. My salon was started by taking a $5000 loan against my person vehicle! Which has now been established and successful for more 10 years!

My Favorite Quote: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 

- Philippians 4:13 

Deborah Blizzard

General Manager, Hampton Inn Newberry-Opera House, Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is to continue to grow and develop as a prosperous community. I would like to see business and local communities come together and raise awareness for drowning prevention. It is one of the number one leading causes of death in children ages 1-4.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to stay true to what you believe in and never lose focus on what you want out of life. Always believe in your dreams and never give up -continue to have self determination.

You would be surprised to know that I have been in the hospitality business for 26 years. I started as front desk clerk and worked hard to move up to where I am now. I also have 3 wonderful children and I am a grandmother to 8 grandchildren.

My role model was Harshad Desai, who was like a father figure to me. He started me in the hospitality business and taught me everything I know about the business. Unfortunately I lost him to cancer on April 5, 2012. Now I work for another amazing family that I continue to learn from.

Jane Wyatt & Susan Dorton

Co-Owners, Newberry Yoga

Downtown Newberry

Jane is from Kentucky and Susan is from Newberry. My vision for Newberry is (Jane) an eclectic, artsy downtown - like a small Asheville. A friendly little town with people on the streets in the evenings with their young children and their pets. Good food, shopping, art shops. We need a wine store! (Susan) to see a thriving downtown Newberry like you see in all the old photos where the streets are jammed with people. People coming to Newberry to shop, bank, eat, socialize and conduct business. The advice I would give my 20-year old self is (Jane) that there is no need to rush. Enjoy your life. (Susan) simple words - to thine own self be true. You would be surprised to know (Jane) that I struggle with depression every day of my life. Yoga keeps me centered, balanced, and happy. This is true. (Susan) that I am a certified, advanced open water scuba diver and have dived all over the world with sharks, manta rays, giant clams, and have even been left at sea. I haved Jelly Fish Lake in Palau.

My Favorite Quote: (Susan) "Consider the lilies of the field. They neither toil nor spin. They flourish and bloom." - The Bible, King James version, Matthew 6:28   Why worry?!

I admire (Jane) my mother and grandmother. I come from a long line of powerful, little women. My mother and her mother were strong and independent, but also so giving and they loved people. They taught me to stand up and to speak for what is right. Silence is agreement. They also taught me to give to those who need help.

Christie Iannitelli

Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry isto see more of a variety for the younger generation and families to keep them, and their business, local.​

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is that ninety-nine percent of the things that you worry about will never happen - don't stress over the little things.

I most admire my dad, Bill Armfield, who instilled strong work ethics and taught me the meaning of family.

My Favorite Book: The Shack by William Paul Young

Christina Pomeroy

Chief Operations Officer, Visibility Software

President, The Newberry Opera House Guild

President Elect, Newberry Rotary Club

Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is an eclectic small town. I hope it continues to grow in a steady pace which will attract diverse businesses while maintaining its small community feel.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is don’t let fear of something be the deciding factor in your decision. ​

You would be surprised to know that I started software consulting almost 22 years ago; when I was 22.

My Favorite Quote: "Who is John Galt?" -Ayn Rand 

Kristi Keuhl

Owner, Pieces of Time East Downtown Newberry

My vision for Newberry is that with the Opera House, our Historic Downtown, and great restaurants, I would love to see Newberry become an even bigger destination for one of a kind shopping, dining and entertainment. 

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to find what you LOVE to do, and figure out a way to make a living doing it. You CAN create a life doing what you love....everyday. And, help others find their passions along the way, too.

You would be surprised to know that I am a "jack of all trades". I have been a Veterinary Tech, a Starbucks Manager, a Mortgage Broker, and Real Estate Agent, to name a few. And I love to design and build things.

My Favorite Quote:

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -Thomas Edison

Aimee Talbot


Vice President, NDDA

FASTTRAC participant, 2006, 2008

Downtown Newberry

I co-own EuroLux Home, an e-commerce company specializing in high-quality European antique furniture, vintage lighting, and new furniture. I am originally from Palm Beach Gardens, FL, but chose Newberry as a great place to locate an e-commerce antiques business due to low overhead and proximity to larger cities within a two-hour radius.

My vision for Newberry is to see a robust economy Downtown. We need entertainment anchors, such as more events in the The Ritz Theatre and in Memorial Park, to draw locals and tourists downtown on a continual basis. We also need to create more Upstairs living space over Main Street. Increased foot traffic will attract businesses to locate here, adding more revenue to our tax base and drawing even more locals and tourists to Newberry.

The advice I would give my 20-year old self is to let go of perfectionism. Work hard, take responsibility for yourself, manifest your dreams, but don’t beat yourself up trying to be perfect.

You would be surprised to know that I met my spouse at summer camp when I was 13 years old. We wrote letters for years until the Internet was invented, and then we wrote emails. We met again 10 years later and fell in love. We married 4 years later.

My Favorite Quote:“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” -Richard Bach

Please share with us if you know a woman who is empowering Newberry.  We would love to add her to our growing list. Email us at:

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