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.”