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BDC Helps New HandPicked Owner Fulfill Her Future

Longtime Employee / General Manager Buys Jewelry Retailer With SBA-Backed Financing

Columbia, SC – Richland County

Business Development Corporation (BDC) has helped a popular South Carolina jewelry and accessories retailer change hands from one loving owner to another.

Sonya Ingram is the new proprietor of HandPicked, through financing backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration's 7(a) loan guaranty program. Ingram had been a key employee of the company for the past decade, helping to build it from three stores in Columbia to 15 locations in five states.

Melanie Mauldin opened the first HandPicked store in Columbia in 1986 after hosting home shows to sell the sterling silver jewelry she bought in visits to artisan families in Mexico.

Ingram went to work for HandPicked after 13 years in retail with Belk.

"I love it," the former general manager said of the 200-employee operation she now owns. "There's such a special connection here, with our customers and with what we sell."

Ingram credited BDC — a Columbia-based non-bank lender that specializes in helping small businesses grow — for helping her through the process of financing the acquisition. "They were truly interested in me and in this company's success," she said. "We're ready to continue our organic growth, and BDC was a key to making this opportunity happen."

BDC President/CEO Edwin O. Lesley said, "HandPicked is a true homemade success story. This business has been built by a passion for product and service and we're excited to be able to take part in this next chapter in its history."


Edwin Lesley (BDC), Sonya Ingram (HandPicked) and Connally Bradley (BDC)


Sonya Ingram — HandPicked