From the Charleston Trident Home Builder Association Annual PRISM Awards Ceremony September 25, 2009
I wanted to thank you both for your sponsorship of this years PRISM awards. Although it was smaller than usual, I did not hear one complaint from anyone during the entire process from entries to the dinner.
We hope you had fun and enjoyed the evening. It was different and meant to be light-hearted, and I think it was.
As seen in The Post and Courier | March 24, 2004
Some businesses are meant to be. When Charleston native Jan Clouse wanted to add the romance and charm of Charleston-style gas lights to her new lowcountry home, not one person in a half-dozen traditional lighting stores could help her. Clearly, this frustration meant one thing: A business opportunity. Within weeks, Clouse started Carolina Lanterns and Accessories from a spare bedroom packed with moving boxes. Now, just four years later, Carolina Lanterns sells Copper Gas and Electric Lanterns throughout the nation and has a brand new showroom showcasing dozens of its signature Original Charleston Lanterns.
An active member of the Charleston-Trident Homebuilders Association and Chairperson of the Association’s upcoming Home Show, Clouse knows the importance of being part of the local building community. “We make sales calls to the home site,” says Clouse, “It’s the only way to be certain the right lanterns are selected for each are of the home.” It is this dedication to customer service that sets Carolina Lanterns apart. “My own experience buying gas lanterns for my home made me wish there was an expert to consult,” says Clouse. “I became that expert, and I make sure that each member of my staff is just as knowledgable.” This expertise shines through not only when helping customers select from the dozens of styles and sizes of copper gas and electric lanterns available through Carolina Lanterns but also when correctly placing lanterns on a home. “Our lanterns are handcrafted works of art,” says Clouse. “They’re House Jewelry, and if they are placed even a few inches too high, or too far off tone side, the dynamics of the house can be upset.”
It is her products’ historic ties to Charleston that make Carolina Lanterns a favorite among the Lowcountry’s developers and homeowners. “Our lanterns are historically-accurate Charleston Lanterns,” says Clouse. “The patterns for our lanterns date back 150 years or more. These are the same lanterns that once graced the finest homes, inns and streets of Charleston.” Thanks to Charleston’s constant flow of tourists and the Internet, word about Carolina Lanterns has spread throughout the country. “We ship anywhere,” says Clouse, “Our lanterns look great on any home, no matter where it is located. They have an understated, classic design that never goes out of style. And, since our lanterns are made of the highest-quality copper, they will hold up to even the harshest environments.”
While copper lanterns will always remain Clouse’s passion, she also represents several niche products she discovered while promoting Carolina Lanterns at leading trade shows. “We carry a great selection of handmade chandeliers,” says Clouse, “and we just became the exclusive coastal South Carolina dealer for a line of whimsical Adirondack-style chairs that are to die for! The chairs have palmetto trees, pineapples, martini glasses and about a dozen other designs cut right into the wood, and then they are custom painted. I can’t wait for the weather to turn so I can sit in my ‘Martini chair’ and watch the sun set from my back porch.” It is this feeling of relaxation that Clouse most wants to share with her customers. “Every time I drive up and see the flickering gas lights on my porch, I leave the working world where it belongs, outside my home.”
As seen in the Moultrie News | July 28, 2004
“Light Bulb Moments” According to Jan Clouse, founder and president of Carolina Lanterns and Accessories, what homeowners were doing before she opened her business five years ago was the “equivalent of getting all dressed up in formal attire with their best jewelry and then slipping on loafers as they went out the door.” “It’s sad,” she signs. “There are many beautiful old homes in downtown Charleston with these little black hardware store lights.” Carolina Lanterns specializes in handcrafted copper lanterns that do not rust, pit or lose color and can be fueled by natural gas, propane or electricity. The most popular styles are exact reproductions of specific lights on historic Charleston buildings dating back to the 1850s. They are named for the area of Charleston from which they were borrowed such as: The Ashley Avenue, The High Battery, The Traded Street and the St. Michaels. And each style can be mounted in ways to conform to all homes, yards and outbuildings, whether the owner wants one lantern or one on every corner.
Next to the unique products (or “House Jewelry”, as Jan calls them), Carolina Lantern’s most important ingredient for success is customer service. They will come to your house, size up the job, come back with a variety of appropriate lanterns and actually hold them up so you can see what they will look like. They will have a replacement usually in two days, and they will come to your home to check on a problem and recommend a solution, even if it’s not their installation. But the customer service policy closet to the heart of Jan Clouse would be there is “no job too small.” Years ago when she was building her house in Charleston, she went to a local lighting store to choose gas lanterns for the front door. The first question the clerk asked her was, “What is your lighting allowance?” The answer was “somewhere in the area of $3,000,” which seems rather impressive for two lanterns. It apparently didn’t impress the salesperson, however, who proceeded to turn her back on Jan and help another customer.
The experience has become something of a legend in the Charleston retail community. “A week doesn’t go by that someone doesn’t come in to the store asking, “Where is the woman who was snubbed in the lighting store?” Jan said, “I think it probably helps business because almost everyone has had an experience like that.” In five years Carolina Lanterns has grown so much that their customer base extends to every state in the U.S. and into Canada. Their distinctive products grace almost every home in the I’On and Park West, the French Quarter Inn, 1 Vendue Range, the Bristol, Home Magazine’s 2004 Home of the Year, the past three years of Charleston Symphony Designer Houses and the list goes on. There is simply no substitute for an original. When you take into account the graceful lanterns, the unbeatable customer service and the only place the find “the woman who was snubbed, “Carolina Lanterns is truly a Charleston original.
As seen in South Carolina Homes & Gardens | March – April 2004
Everything old becomes new again. There is no doubt about that. Sometimes it can be a regrettable thing and sometimes it’s much more pleasing. But sometimes, on rare occasions, something will come back into vogue that manages to transport the essence of what was wonderful about a time long gone, and bring it into our lives. Something like classic beauty – the soft, personal look of charm rather than the harsh, bare functionality that can be found today. Something like the romance of flickering flame, lighting your way. Something like old world gas lighting, or, to be more specific, Charleston-style gas lights. Classic in design, yet beautifully understated, many style of the handcrafted Charleston Lantern have withstood the test of time.
Gas lanterns that once graced the finest homes, inns and streetscapes of historic Charleston have found a modern resurgence on commercial establishments, downtown treasures, island getaways, mountain retreats and custom homes throughout the South and beyond. Many factors contribute to the revival of gas lighting. The most obvious, perhaps, is that the atmosphere created by an open-flam gas lantern is unbeatable. You can leave the stress of the modern world behind when a Charleston-style lanterns’ soft flickering light from a bygone age greets you at your front door. More practical reasons contribute, as well. More people have access to gas than they did a few years ago. The increasing demand for gas appliances in new home construction means that energy utilities are now offering natural gas in areas where it was previously unavailable. Where Natural Gas is not services, LP Gas provides a convenient alternative. And people are becoming more money-conscience; more aware of how their home is their largest investment. More than nearly any other augmentation on new or remodeled homes, gas lanterns provide a key advantage when it comes time to list a home for sale. Gas lighting in general, however, does not have all of the benefits that a homeowner is looking for. It really is better and smarter to decide on a copper lantern when making your choice. Copper is made to last. All metals oxidize when exposed to air. This is especially true in the corrosive salt air of the South Carolina Lowcountry. When iron oxidizes, it rusts. When aluminum oxidizes, it corrodes and eventually falls apart. When brass oxidizes, it pits and loses its shine and luster. However, when Copper oxidizes, the top layer of metal forms a beautiful patina finish that protects the metal underneath from even the harshest environments and weather conditions.
The true beauty of going with an old classic is the assurance that it will not go out of style. Ten years from now, you will still be proud of your gas lantern. And considering the fact that they have been around for hundreds of years, it’s safe to say that your gas lantern will still look beautiful for your grandchildren.
Special thanks to the staff of Carolina Lanterns and Accessories, 917 Houston Northcutt Boulevard, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464. They can be reached by telephone at 843-881-4170 or toll free at 877-881-4173. Or you could access their website for more information – www.carolinalanterns.com.
As seen in the Charleston Regional Business Journal | March 8, 2001
Lantern lady. Two years ago the Business Journal reported on entrepreneur Jan Clouse, owner and founder of Carolina Lanterns & Accessories, a Mount Pleasant lighting store that was less than a year old at the time of our report. Since then, business has boomed, and in January Clouse moved her store from its cramped Coleman Boulevard location to more spacious digs in Patriots Plaza. That’s not all. Clouse now has a Carolina Lanterns showroom in Atlanta, exhibit space in Atlanta’s 4.2 million-square-foot America’s Mart, a handful of marketing reps scattered across the country and an eye on either Charlotte or Bluffton as a future site for another Carolina Lanterns store. Considering the bad news – specifically, job losses – coming from South Carolina’s manufacturing sector, Clouse is proud to point out that “everything we do is South Carolina-based.” Her products are manufactured and warehoused in the Palmetto State. South Carolina trucking companies ship her products. Her brochures and catalogs are printed here. How’s that for shedding positive light on a section of our state’s economy?
As seen in The Post & Courier | July 22, 2001
Gas lanterns’ soft light returning to entryways Once common around Charleston in the 1800s, gas lanterns are making a bit of a comeback. The flickering flames are popping up all over the Lowcountry, lending warm glows to everything from private residences and historic inns to modern hotels and new subdivision entrances. The lanterns, which also work with propane gas, can accent any house – whether it’s 200 years old or brand new. Jan Clouse of Carolina Lanterns & Accessories, a Mount Pleasant company that markets lanterns handcrafted in the upstate, said that more than 150 new homes east of the Cooper have been built with gas lanterns in recent years. Lanterns can be retrofitted into an existing house, but she said most of her business is with new homes. “Some builders at first wouldn’t touch these things, but they (builders) are becoming more open to new ideas for their customers,” said Clouse, who has a pair of gas lanterns adorning the entrance of her new house in Park West. Gas lanterns range in price from about $200 to $1,000, depending on the style, Clouse said. The average fixture uses $8 to $12 worth of gas per month, according to a recent report in Southern Living magazine. Anyone who hasn’t seen one of the gas lanterns up close may be surprised at its size. It’s about two or three times the size of modern electric lanterns at the entrances of many homes. Clouse said lanterns in the 1800s were that size, adding that their grand style matched the grand style of many people’s homes in downtown Charleston. “It’s surprising to see so many of those homes that have undergone million-dollar renovations have tiny little lights around the entrance,” she said. “It really doesn’t look right.” Once installed, the lanterns are relatively simple to operate. Usually there is a shut-off gas valve inside the homes as well as a shut-off valve inside the lamp. The flame lights with a match or lighter, much like a pilot light in a stove. Clouse said the lamps require virtually no maintenance. “I just love them,” she said. “I’m a person who gets a kick out of ceremonies, so I kind of make it a ceremony every time I turn my lamps on.”