Stories & Success Secrets of Park Circle Locals

Mary Gould grew up in Brazil without running water or electricity. Yet, from a young age, she’s had a fire in her belly to be a performer. This fire has put her on stages around the world. Now, she uses her fire and dedication to lift up others and help them find their own inner star.

Her nonprofit theater company, South of Broadway, is located right here in Park Circle. South of Broadway has served as the only acting studio in North Charleston, for the last 12 years, where both children and adults can learn to act, sing and perform.

Mary uses her gifts and onstage presence from her many years of singing and acting in New York and all over Europe as a basis for her theater studio. Her passion for this art not only drives her to train aspiring stars, but also allows her to offer young people performance time in the spot light. This theatrical art produces a strong sense of self-awareness, a high level of confidence, a lifelong skill set, and a healthy outlet for various emotions.

While performing in NY, Mary’s disciplined dedication to theatre created close connections with some of the finest instructors and coaches in the field. Now, every summer, Mary opens the door of opportunity to the most devoted performers. After auditions, a select few are chosen to stay at the Julliard School in New York for a month of rigorous training with world class teachers, casting directors, artists and agents!

Mary believes that her life’s purpose is to “make things beautiful,” and she creates this in our young people everyday. What an honor to learn from someone with such talent, experience and knowledge. The opportunity to shine is right here among us in our own little community. 


Thank you for your great service, Mary!


Have you ever wondered what inspires someone to become a counselor, or a therapist, or any professional that delves into the psyche of others? Or where to find a councilor who has made it a life goal to help people discover their true value underneath all of their fear, self-doubt, and self-criticism? Well, Park Circle is fortunate enough to have such a person. Lee Picciuto has established her mindfulness-based therapy practice, Veritas, right here in Downtown Park Circle. The nature of this specialized therapy is to help patients pay attention to and accept their current thoughts and emotions without judging them as right or wrong.

Starting in high school, Lee was known as a great listener, easy to talk to, a confidant, and one who offered compassionate advice. During the summer of her sophomore and junior years, Lee worked in a summer school program that taught the children of local immigrant farm workers. “Listening to the stories of resilience that the children and their families shared,” created a strong compassion within her for the Latino community, with whom she still works very closely today.
When Lee shared her desire to become a social worker with her parents so that she could counsel and help others, they strongly urged her to pursue another career. So, she graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish instead. Both of her degrees have served as a great knowledge base that helps with her practice to this day. In addition to being bilingual, Lee has also found that having studied linguistics in college has helped her to recognize self-limiting patterns in her clients’ self-talk. While we are well-known for being our own worst critic, Lee understands that “the way we speak to ourselves greatly reflects and impacts the way we view ourselves and others.”  
Upon moving to Charleston, Lee earned her Masters in Social Work through a local USC branch. With this degree and subsequent coursework, she officially became licensed to counsel, yet, her journey to reach this point cannot be overstated. The 12-year span between graduations allowed her to experience her own journey to self awareness, and broaden her skill set and level of expertise. Over the years, Lee’s compassion has driven her to help others to heal through various modalities  such as message therapy, reiki, and volunteer work. In addition to her private practice, she has partnered with one of her close friends to establish a nonprofit organization, THRIVE SC, which aims to provide transitional housing and holistic resources to survivors of domestic violence here in the Lowcountry.
Helping folks to discover their inherent worth, overcome their fears, and realize that they are whole beneath all of their pain and suffering feels less like a job to Lee and more like a part of who she is. Lee believes that the secret to success is a willingness to be “authentic and vulnerable,” both with clients and in life. Success is not always about how much money doing what you love can make for you–there is also great satisfaction in knowing that you have used your gifts and talents to help heal and bring light to someone who has felt engulfed in darkness.
From Lee’s story, we can conclude that one avenue to success is honing in on your gifts and compassions. Though you may take the long road to get there, the detour could very well be the basis and experience that ultimately leads you to greater success.


Continuing the “Avenues to Success” series that describes the journeys our local Park Circle business owners have taken to achieve their goals and reach financial independence.

Dena Davis Pink Croc

The second business owner of this series, is Dena Davis, owner of The Pink Crocodile. This unique, gift boutique is located on E. Montague in Downtown Park Circle, but originated in the mind and heart of a young girl. Dena’s parents owned a local dry cleaning company. So, naturally, she spent a lot of time there after school and on the weekends. When she was not helping with the day-to-day operations or doing homework, she felt drawn to the neighboring Hallmark Store. Here she enjoyed looking around and allowed herself to become engrossed in reading the cards to pass the time. From this, the seed was planted that she would one day own her own card shop.

As a young woman, Ms. Davis spent a few years working for various businesses before revisiting her early childhood dream of opening her own store. Of course, there is always some fear when making such a drastic change from employee to employer. Ms. Davis found some comfort in knowing that the time she spent helping run the family business had provided her with the basic business, operational skills needed to be successful. Still, before taking the leap, she wanted to be certain that it was the right step for her. So, she took a position working for a friend who owned a local retail shop, and she loved it. She tested the waters again by working for another local retailer, and found that interacting with the public and selling fun loving merchandise, as her own boss, was indeed her calling.

In 2002, she opened her very own card shop, “By Invitation Only” in Downtown Summerville. When a friend decided to sell her nearby gift shop, The Pink Crocodile, Ms. Davis bought it and combined the two companies. Years later, Dena entertained the idea of moving to Florida. When that fell through, she shopped locations and found Park Circle. She fell in love, and now Dena lives and works right here in this great community where she proudly proclaims “What’s not to love about Park Circle?!”

Ms. Davis believes that the secret to success is “doing what you love”. Since Dena is a people person, she enjoys interacting with her customers daily in a community that is close knit with great neighboring businesses like “Accent on Wine”. She also loves shopping for items to stock her store, both online, and at a mega complex in Atlanta. Owning and operating a business is hard work, but there is no one else she’d rather work so hard for.

From speaking with Ms. Dena Davis, we can conclude that one “Avenue to Success” is to fulfill a childhood dream, yet, still allow the dream to be expanded upon. Dena’s open mind allowed her to sell more than just cards like she had originally intended, which eventually evolved into a quaint, little, boutique right here in Park Circle. In addition, having basic operational skills, and hands on experience with performing the daily tasks are equally as important as the dream itself.

More avenues to financial freedom to come as we speak with more successful folks here in Park Circle.

By Crystal Joyner


There is a lot of talk about “closing the gap” between the shrinking, middle class and the top 1%, but “How?” is the question. For many, raising the minimum wage and paying less taxes aren’t satisfying solutions. Most folks would simply like to earn more money. So, it only seems natural to ask those who have already achieved this goal, how they did it. Currently, there are dozens of successful, small, businesses right here in Park Circle. So, over the next several months, we will reach out to our local owners and ask them to share their road to success with us, as well as, any life lessons or words of wisdom they can offer.

me & Dad

The first business owner of this series, is not actually integrated in Park Circle in any way. He is, however, the inspiration for the websites,,, and our Facebook page. Despite starting a family right out of high school, my dad, Lloyd Shifflett, was driven to find a path to success. Mowing grass and doing residential landscaping was his humble beginning.

As the owner of Lloyd’s of Charleston, a landscape supply company, Lloyd still remembers the very phone call that made him drop his shovel and buy a dump truck. He had just bought several thousand dollars worth of product from a local retailer and needed more. When he called for the material, he was told that it would take a week to deliver the product that he needed that day. It was in this moment that he sought to fulfill the obvious need for “Fast and Dependable” delivery of landscape supplies in the low country. This is the motto he has branded on every one of his dump trucks, and a service he still proudly provides.

Mr. Shifflett believes the secret to success is “doing what you love.” And to this day, he still loves “not having to tell people they have to wait a week to get what they need now.”

Lloyd’s of Charleston has been in business for almost 30 years, and has weathered many storms including the economy bust that the nation is still recovering from. However, when Mr. Shifflett bought that first dump truck, all those years ago, to help meet the needs of others and provide a good service, he had no idea that it would inspire his daughter to act on a need she saw within her own community. The simple need to have one location for Park Circle lovers and dwellers to know and learn what’s available to them within and around the neighborhood. So, a special thank you to my father for the inspiration he has given me.

From speaking with this small business owner, we can conclude, that one path to financial freedom starts with recognizing a need and fulfilling it. This need can reveal itself in our day to day tasks, but may be disguised as an inconvenience or cause for complaint. So, be attentive, determined, and self assured if, and when, an opportunity presents itself.


More avenues to financial freedom to come as we speak with Park Circle’s local, business owners about their life’s journey and business ventures.

-By Crystal Joyner

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