Exotic Design: Kalina Petrova

By Leslie Moore

Exotic Design: Kalina Petrova

Kalina Petrova

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am from Bulgaria, a small, beautiful and green country located in the peninsula of Southeastern Europe, neighboring Greece and Turkey. I was born in Lovech, a very old and historic town. At 18, I moved to Sophia to continue my education.

I’ve always loved sports and grew up loving tennis, swimming and skiing. As a young girl, I was a table tennis champion and played throughout Eastern Europe. After high school, I attended our National Sport Academy where I studied physical education and sports journalism, and I also am trained as a professional table tennis coach. My other passion is arts and design, and I earned an additional degree from a fashion and design school.

Even with advanced degrees, wages can be very low in Bulgaria, so I applied to work with a fashion designer in Milan, Italy, and was accepted. Just as I was settling in, I got the opportunity to come to the United States. I won a green card in a worldwide lottery. I consider myself very lucky because the United States only issues a very limited number of green cards annually, and only 3,500 of those go to Bulgaria.

Why did you choose to immigrate to the United States? Why Myrtle Beach?

This is the country with best opportunities! I know sometimes it’s hard for people from here to understand, but the United States is wide open for those who are willing to work. I had a friend who worked in a spa in Myrtle Beach, so when I received my green card, I asked her if I could work there, as I had been trained in massage therapy. Soon, I moved my massage therapy practice to Fitness Edge, in Carolina Forest and Murrells Inlet, while I attended night school for interior design at Horry Georgetown Technical College.

I felt very challenged when first came here – I had to start from zero and prove myself. Now, after being here ten years, I’m happy and content with my life. I do what I love to do – work with my partner and fiancé Ryan Smith. He owns an upholstery company, and I have a window treatment workroom.

Working together is challenging at times, but we are very dedicated to our customers and business. As an artist I enjoy drawing and designing unique pieces of custom furniture for Ryan’s shop as well crafting window treatments. We both love doing residential and commercial design; one of our latest large projects was Waccamaw Hospital.

Tell us a little about your mother.

My mother died of breast cancer when I was 14, but I remember her as a very fashionable lady. I got my love of fabric and style from her. Style and fashion is very important in Europe. It’s common to buy fabric and take it to a seamstress to make custom clothing. My mom used to do that all the time, and I remember going with her to fabric stores with gorgeous French, Italian, and Asian fabrics.

Growing up, what was your favorite dish prepared by your mother or grandmother? Can you recreate it?

My mother made a delicious dessert with fresh yogurt and strawberries. We strain all of the water out of the yogurt, mix it with honey and strawberries, then add mint leaves and chocolate. I still make this today for my friends. I love cooking! Both of my grandmothers were professional chefs and made unbelievable dishes, including my favorites – stuffed cabbage leaves and peppers. These are traditionally stuffed with meat, but now I am a vegetarian, so I substitute a stuffing using beans or rice. It’s very tasty.

Is Mother’s Day celebrated in Bulgaria?

We celebrate International Woman’s Day on March 8th, a holiday that celebrates all women. Everyone gets dressed up to go out, and women receive gifts from their husbands, boyfriends or fathers. While I was in college, I worked as a waitress, and on this day we would give every woman a rose with her check. People from home still call to greet me on that special day, and ask me where am I going, and what am I wearing on March 8th. I laugh and tell them it is not celebrated in the United States.

Contact Kalina at RK Consignments and Interiors at 843-503-3234 or email her at Kalina_VP@yahoo.com.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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