Beautiful Success: Terri Springs, Laura Bowden and Traci Miles

By Leslie Moore

Beautiful Success: Terri Springs, Laura Bowden and Traci Miles

This month, Sasee is highlighting three successful and well respected businesswomen, all residents of Myrtle Beach. While each is very different, they share a timeless beauty and the ability to make the very best of the life they’ve been given.

Terri Springs

Terri Springs: A Life of Elegance

Beautiful and gracious, Terri Springs welcomed Sasee into her home this month to share a little about her amazing life. Tucked away on a secluded lot in the heart of Myrtle Beach, Terri has created a lovely, lush oasis for her family and friends.

“I was in the kitchen at three years old,” Terri laughed and told me as we snacked on her yummy homemade cheese crackers. “My grandparents started Tony’s Italian Restaurant in North Myrtle Beach, and all I wanted to do was help. By age four, I was standing on a stool, rolling meatballs! That started my love of food.”

While the summer months brought an influx of visitors, Myrtle Beach was a typical small southern town from Labor Day to Memorial Day.  “We went to Conway for everything,” Terri remembers. Before Grand Strand Hospital was built, Myrtle Beach was served by a much smaller hospital, Ocean View Memorial, a facility on North Ocean Boulevard.  Each year, the hospital had a fundraiser/fashion show, and Terri was asked to model. “Every year we had a guest designer, and this particular year it was Oscar de la Renta–after the fashion show he asked me to come to New York and model!” This was life changing for Terri. She had always wanted to be a professional dancer, but an accident while preparing for a May Dance while a student at Columbia College left her unable to fulfill her dream. Modeling in New York was a golden opportunity.

Terri knew she had to go to New York, but also knew her very strict, southern father would never allow it. With the help of her godmother and a little behind the scenes support from her mother, Terri boarded a train in Florence at midnight on a Saturday, while her parents were in Columbia attending a USC football game, and set out for the Big Apple.  “When I arrived, I checked into the Gotham Hotel and walked up and down 5th Avenue. I was so excited to be there – I remember seeing Gene Shalit walking down the street and getting so excited!” Terri met with Oscar de la Renta who immediate sent her to Ford Modeling Agency – they loved her “girl next door” look and offered her a contract. For three years, Terri modeled for some of fashion’s greats. It was a “dream come true” for a young woman from a small town in South Carolina. She was even asked to go to Los Angeles by NBC to model designer Ron LoVece bridal gown’s in conjunction with a big wedding on the then popular soap opera, Days of Our Lives. Terri grabbed every opportunity for fun and excitement, making friends with the elegant Susan Stafford, the first letter-turner for the show, Wheel of Fortune. “I was modeling Ron’s dresses during the show’s puzzle breaks, and Susan and I became fast friends. She picked me up from my hotel for an evening out, and we actually went to Sammy Davis, Jr.’s house and, believe it or not, played basketball in his driveway with his wife!”

Not long after returning to New York, Terri was swept off of her feet by a handsome Italian man who set his sights on marrying the beautiful Terri. The couple had three children, but unfortunately, the marriage failed. Of course, Terri came home to her beloved Myrtle Beach to raise Teah, Brad and Reid. 

“In 1992, I was working at Wachesaw Plantation in the tennis shop. It was Teah’s birthday and we called in her birthday to our favorite radio station, Power 98 and while I was taking the children to school we heard she won! The morning DJ, Billy Smith, was a good friend of mine, so I stopped by the station the next morning to get her prizes. Just for fun, Billy asked me to come into the studio and chat with him on the air.”  Terri left the station and went to work, but unbeknownst to her, the station’s manager heard Terri’s brief radio spot and loved her bubbly on-air personality. “They offered me a job on the morning show! Billy and I were a team for nine years and stayed at the top of the charts.” (Power 98 later became Mix 97.7) 

One evening, Terri was going to an event to celebrate the expansion of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and ran into an old friend, John Rhodes. “John was a hot shot back then,” Terri laughed, remembering.  “He was newly divorced and having the time of his life!” Something about Terri intrigued him, though, and John began his quest to get her attention. Terri wasn’t really interested at first, but three months later, she finally agreed to go out with him. Both Terri and John love basketball, and John took her to the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC, where he fell head over heels in love. Three years later, John asked Terri to marry him. After considering it long and hard, Terri realized she was not ready for marriage. Her children had to come first. But, this love story does have a happy ending. Sixteen years after the couple started dating, Terri and John tied the knot. “He and I have so much in common – we both love basketball, we both love helping children and, best of all, he makes me laugh!” The couple married on Valentine’s Day, but in typical Terri style, she didn’t pick the day because of the holiday, it was just the perfect weekend for everyone to get together and celebrate Terri and John’s new life together.

Today, John’s service as Mayor of Myrtle Beach keeps him busy, as well as his work with Beach Ball Classic, and Terri works part time as a consultant for a popular skin care line. Both John and Terri are passionate about their work on the Savannah’s Playground Project in Market Common. This playground will be a place for all children to enjoy, but also a place where special needs children will flourish. Still, the couple makes time to enjoy time together and with family. John has four grandchildren, and Terri has five! Sophie, her oldest granddaughter, loves coming to “Pee Pie’s” house to cook and work in the garden. “If I could tell my younger self anything at all, I would say, ‘Relax!’ I felt like I had to be so regimented as a single mother, but my grandchild have taught me about living and what’s really important. All any of us really need is love.”

Laura Bowden

Laura Bowden: The Beauty of Faith

Confident and stylish, Myrtle Beach interior designer, Laura Bowden has always loved design and its impact on quality of life. After owning Laura Bowden Designs for thirty years, she still enjoys surrounding herself, and others, with beauty.

“I was born in Massachusetts,” Laura began. “And, I graduated with a degree in marketing!” Laura didn’t begin her design career until moving south with her Air Force pilot husband. “I accepted a sales position with Ethan Allen in Mississippi, and it was there I began my design career.” Laura and her husband were transferred to the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, and Laura began working for Resort Designs, a large interior design firm. During her three years working for Resort Designs, Laura gained a reputation for excellence. Then, the unthinkable happened. Her husband was killed in a routine training accident.

“That was a watershed time in my life for sure,” Laura began. “I had to decide, at 29, if I wanted to continue my design career here or return to family in New England. Since my clientele base was expanding, and I was surrounded by great friends, I decided to stay.” Laura added that this was the first independent move of her life. “I was never adventurous!”

When Resort Designs closed, suddenly and without any warning, Laura was left without a job. “Clients started calling me, and I made the decision to start my own design firm,” she remembers. “Determination and hard work is the key to a successful business.” Laura eventually grew her firm and added staff to keep up with demands. “I was known for my design work, especially in model homes,” Laura adds.

Laura eventually remarried and became a mother to two children, Chelsea and Colby. She divided her time between work and her children, volunteering as president of the PTO, was involved in her children’s sports, events and summer camps, plus went to the furniture market twice a year. It was a busy time, and the years flew by. “I kept at it, even though a flood after Hurricane Floyd nearly destroyed my office and warehouse.”

Today, after 30 years in business, Laura has some of the same satisfied clients that helped her get started many years ago – and they have become great friends. “Dolores Norris hired me in the early 1980s to do a beach home in Surfside. Ten years later, Dolores and her husband built a new home and, again, I did the design work. When her husband passed away, I redid Dolores’ home, and when she downsized, I helped her with that also.”

“My clients and I are a part of each other’s lives. You get very personal in this business. Every one of my clients is unique and has different needs and desires.”

With both children grown, Laura has more time to focus on her church and community. “Teaching is my passion,” she told me when I asked about her work with her church, First United Methodist in Myrtle Beach, where she has been teaching third grade Sunday School for over fifteen years. “My first third graders recently got married!” Laura also is a leader in the Chrysalis program, a spiritual retreat for young people held twice a year. “My faith is the biggest part of my world,” she said thoughtfully. “Work and exercise follow.”

“I have good genes,” Laura laughed when I asked how she stayed so fit. “My mother, who is almost 86, still snow skies.” Laura has been in a boot camp program for a year and a half. “I work out with 20 and 30 year olds, and it has been life changing! There’s such a high after you work out – my group is like a sisterhood. No one cares what you look like at 6:15 am, you just get there – plus the workouts are always different and fun.”

Laura doesn’t spend much time on hair and makeup. “My daughter teases me about that,” Laura says, “but I would rather spend my time coordinating my outfits and accessorizing. Many of the items I buy, I customize to fit my eclectic style.” The day we met, she wore a fuchsia patterned dress with leggings and great statement jewelry – and looked every bit the polished businesswoman. “My style is funky – dressing up makes me feel better.”

I asked Laura what she would tell her 20 year-old self. “If I could tell her anything, I would say to be more adventurous! Coping with panic and anxiety my entire life, I was afraid of everything. I have now overcome my fears through my faith, and prayer is my medicine.”

Traci Miles

Traci Miles: The Blessings of Excellence

Vivacious, ageless and lovely, Traci Miles met Sasee on the porch of her beautiful oceanfront home in Myrtle Beach, where we sat overlooking her infinity pool and the majestic Atlantic. From selling skincare products on the beach at 14 years old to becoming a real estate agent who is number one seller in the region and the Carolinas, sixth in the nation and eighth in the world, this self made woman remains humble about her accomplishments and her incredible life.

“I was born in Roanoke, Virginia, and attended Virginia Tech,” Traci began. “My father was an oceanfront developer and worked a lot in Myrtle Beach – he did the first oceanfront high rise condos in the ‘70s.” When her father was building Regency Towers in Myrtle Beach, Traci began selling skin care products on the beach. “I have always been an entrepreneur,” Traci said. “I made nearly $100 a day back then, at 14!”

After Traci moved to Myrtle Beach permanently, 29 years ago, she began her lemonade business, first at Barefoot Landing, then at Waccamaw Pottery. She had always wanted to be a veterinarian, but her dad talked her into looking into real estate. “He knew how much I loved working with people, and, at first, I only did real estate for family and friends, but 14 years ago, I went to work for Century 21 Boling. “It’s the only company I’ve ever worked for and I love it – real estate is my passion.” When her company flew her to Orlando for the Century 21 Global Conference, Traci knew she was the number one seller in our area, but had no idea she was eighth in the world. “When they told me I was shocked. Another agent asked me what my annuals sales were and I really had no idea. I hadn’t totaled it up yet, and truly, I just work. No matter what I do, I know I did the very best I could.”

The day we met, Traci’s son, Addison Miles, had just arrived home from his first year at University of South Carolina. He is a competitive, championship surfer, but has taken a break from the sport to complete his education. She and her husband, Jeff Skelley, have been married for five years and built their lovely home together. “I am an ambassador for Myrtle Beach! I love it here and am living my dream.” The couple’s blended family – Jeff has five children – makes being together a priority. “That’s one of my current goals – slowing down enough to really enjoy all that I have!”

Traci’s life is a reflection of her faith and determination. “I try to be there for everyone and love doing it, but no one is always happy. We all have stressful days. But, I believe we are given these hurdles for a reason – everything always works out. If I am working too much, then I know I need to slow down; if I hit every red light when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, then God must be slowing me down for a reason. This is the way I live!”

I asked Traci about some of her experiences as a real estate agent. “I was working with a client in Surfside,” she laughed. “And we had looked at several homes. She called me and asked me to put a bid on one of the houses. I did and put the house under contract for her. Just before we were to close, she called and told me I had put a bid on the wrong house! It was crazy! She had looked at another house online that I hadn’t shown her. Believe it or not, she ended up buying the house I had under contract. It really was the perfect home for her, and the family still loves that house.”

Faith is also an important part of Traci’s life. Active in Seacoast Vineyard Church, many of the congregation’s baptisms take place in the ocean in front of Traci and Jeff’s home. “This year, I decided to read the Bible from front to back,” Traci told me. “I have never done that and it’s been an amazing journey.” Traci also attributes the success of her marriage to her faith. “I’m so blessed with Jeff. There is a big difference in a faith based marriage and one that is not.”

Traci had come in from her daily workout to meet us for our interview. “I go the gym every morning,” she said. “That’s my therapy. I’ve always been an active person; I was a gymnast growing up.” Paddle boarding is another of Traci’s favorite activities, and she loves her time on the beach.

“I’m not trendy,” she told me when I asked about her personal style. “I think I would describe my style as eclectic – I might have on jeans or a business suit, depending on the circumstances.” Her home style reflects the same values – Traci has combined contemporary pieces with antiques to create a nurturing, comfortable environment.

Traci and Jeff both enjoy taking time to eat out and have a few hidden gems they frequent regularly. “We love Sole Italian Restaurant, owned by a wonderful family. When we want good music and laid back fun, we head to Pine Lakes Tavern, another of our favorites. Others we love include Collector’s Café, Rossi’s, Ciao and Aspen Grille – we are blessed with many wonderful restaurants in Myrtle Beach.”

When I asked her what she would tell her 20 year-old self, Traci didn’t hesitate. “Stay in shape and love what you’re doing. Your beauty is a reflection of how you respond to others.”

“Being a mom, wife to my soul mate and a successful real estate agent – these are the three most important things in my life,” Traci told me as we finished our time together. “ I’m blessed and thank God every day!”

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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3 Responses to “Beautiful Success: Terri Springs, Laura Bowden and Traci Miles”

  1. Leslie, these were great interviews. It is always interesting to discover fun facts about locals.
    I love that question: What would you tell your 20 year old self?

  2. Rose Ann says:

    It’s great to read about happy, successful women who have made their mark with hard work and a passion for life. Interesting interviews, Leslie!

  3. Dino T says:

    Three great gals who’ve admirably blended family and career…have enjoyed each of their journeys.

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