We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelli Spencer and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kelli, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
We are a family of 5 and as we planned family vacations we were always intentional about where we took our children and creating educational and historical moments for them while still having fun. In our travels, we would always take the tours of the area and we were always disappointed with the amount of information that we received that represented African Americans. We were visiting places that had very historical significance to our heritage. We would visit port cities along the east coast like Charleston, Savannah, St. Augustine, New Orleans and we would always walk away from those tours with more questions than answers. We would take the trolley tour or the horse drawn carriage through the center city/square and see the open market and the tour guides would always wash over the fact that the goods that were sold at these markets were people, people that looked like us, our ancestors. After witnessing and experiencing this time and time again, we create our own tours and gather our own information. When we would go on the mainstream tours, we would ask questions about the true history. Our children began to understand its important to know things for yourself and challenge the status quo. Our vacations also embodied the essence of living in the moment and enjoying and experiencing the beautiful scenery. So as much as we taught, we did as well. In all of our travels, We dreamed of going to places that we could rent and enjoy that told our, the African American story! So we decided to create it for our friends and family and generations to come. We are proud to announce the launch of Inkwell Properties. At Inkwell Properties our motto is “Learn Well, Live Well. Inkwell”.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a teacher/school administrator by trade (I even have a PhD in Educational Leadership) but through my 20 year career in the public school system, I realized that I’m actually a life long learner and educator at heart. It took me a while to understand how I could use all of my schooling, training and experiences to transfer in this beautiful concept that is all about learning. Understanding how to live and learn outside of the classroom has been such a rewarding professional challenge. Every moment is about curating experiences that are both uplifting and enlightening. Our first property has truly touched our souls and our spirits and we want all of our guests to feel that same touch. This property is located on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. Allow us to take you to the low country, where the waves echo soulful hymns and the trees hold generations of truth and folktales. We are committed to learning well and living well and allowing our guests to grow with us on this journey.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When you book with Inkwell Properties, whether you are family, friends or curious guest (soon-to-be-family), you will want to embrace the beautiful, peaceful retreat on Daufuskie Island. The first and most important thing to do on Daufuskie is to relax, take in the scenery, listen to all of the songs that nature provides. After you take all of that in, rent a golf cart and explore the island. There are 20 historic landmarks on the island that chronicle the Gullah history and way of life. There are several very important and moving places that brings connections for the African American history. These landmarks include the Cooper River Cemetery, the Mary Field Cemetery, The Council Tree, First Union African Baptist Church, and the Jane Hamilton School (Gullah Learning Center). If you would like a guided tour, check out The Sallie Ann Robinson Gullah Tour. Make sure you go by The Old Daufuskie Crab Company and try some of Ms. Earnestine’s amazing and famous deviled crab. Go back to the beach cottage and savor the sunset. Get up the next morning and enjoy a walk on the beach along with some yoga. We can help you get set up with everything you need for yoga on the beach. Plan for a nice family dinner with local, island chef. Inkwell Properties will be happy to help arrange and curate all of your experiences.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Inkwell Properties would like to shoutout our family and friends that have encouraged and pushed us from the very beginning. For those that understood that Inkwell Properties is a suite of vacation properties that tell the story of the African American journey in the United States and beyond. Our mission to allow our guests to enjoy the beauty of what of the African American experience holds and learn the culture and heritage that has allowed us to be such a strong force in this country. On this journey, we have had many hurdles in acquiring the first property, but the simple words from our children, Tripp (11), Wyatt (9), and Isabella (7) kept the drive and fire moving to complete that purchase and begin this much-needed, beautiful process and concept. They told us at one of our disappointing and low moments that “we should never stop and keep going because our story needs to be told and enjoyed”. We appreciate the small number of family and friends that have sacrificed to ride 5+ hours with me to get this first and most important property closed on Daufuskie Island. Each one of them immediately fell in love with the island, the history, the people, the food, the nature and all of the untold stories that the trees hold. Those stories can be felt through out the island. We thank that land and those trees. We thank the Gullah culture for inviting us, embracing us, accepting us and loving on us. We appreciate all of the late night and Sunday dinner conversations with our circle that has kept us uplifted and encouraged to continue. Finally, I continue to say “we” and “our” because I see this as a family commitment. However, over the past couple of years, my husband, Dr. Glen Spencer, Jr. has been the real MVP. Because of who he is and what he does, I was able to move from a career for which I was well educated and overqualified. I had been a school administrator for over 10 years and I needed to reevaluate my worth, my sacrifice and put my family first. This man said that it was okay for me to leave this profession that I thought I was tied to for the rest of my life. I was Dr. Kelli Spencer! What was I supposed to do next? During the pandemic, as we educated our kids at home and tried to figure out ways to get them out of the house, Inkwell Properties was born and my beautiful, amazing, Black husband said to me, “You got this!” We decided as a family that this was something that we believed in and we wanted to do and he allowed ME to do it. He was my sounding board, my encourager. We rock-tumbled quite a bit only for my growth as business owner and leader in the industry that we are creating. Through this process, I realize that I’m still an educator at heart. I’m still Dr. Spencer and the blessing is that I can reach the masses and I can leave a legacy for my children and their children. Our first property on Daufuskie Island is the essence of our mission – Live Well. Learn Well. Inkwell.

Website: www.inkwellvacationproperties.com

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Image Credits:
Drone Jones Media

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