Palmetto Artisans program offers mentorship, business skills to young adults

The Palmetto Artisans program runs year-round, but they sell the roses during the summer.
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 4:34 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 6:53 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - For the past two years, the City of Charleston has partnered with a community organization to run a mentorship program centered around the Palmetto Rose at the Charleston City Market.

The Palmetto Artisans program runs year-round, but they sell the roses during the summer. Officials said that summer program has just wrapped up as school is about to start.

“I saw the need for the program to evolve from a recreation standpoint more into a business standpoint,” Eric Jackson, who oversees the program, said. “We kinda incorporated a lot of the training to become—for these kids to become entrepreneurs at the end of the program.”

Leaders said the program is designed to help children and teenagers from ages 9 to 17 get into the workforce and become positive community members. In total, they have 25 children and teenagers who they are currently mentoring to become entrepreneurs.

Those who wish to be in the program must fill out an application and be in good academic standing with their schools. Some are helped in a school-type setting, while others help make the roses because they’re not qualified to sell roses at the market.

“Throughout the summer, I’ve learned how to manage different personalities, how to give orders and to overall be accountable for myself, not only myself, but other people as well,” Program Supervisor Jacob Brown said.

Those who are part of the program can be found with a uniform that says “artisan” as well as a city of Charleston badge.

Brown has been with the program for a year and just launched his own business.

“In the process of opening the business, I’ve learned how to market myself, create media and just be a good businessman overall, but most of all be honest with customers,” Brown said. “Without this program, I might have had a regular job and not gained the experience that I’ve gained and do something mediocre, but I think what we’re doing for the community is awesome.”

There are people who sell the roses outside of the program, which is against city law. Leaders said they reach out to them to show there’s a better way to sell these roses.

“For the most part, the kids that are selling the Palmetto Roses without authorization just need a little bit of guidance, and that’s what we’re here for,” Jackson said.

“I think it all comes down to the individual and what they want from their life,” Brown added. “The kids who may be doing it illegally, they might not have the same opportunities.”

Jackson said program participants keep all of the money they earn from selling roses at the market.

Meanwhile, Charleston Police are looking for someone who, they said, was involved in the assault of an Ohio family at the market on Aug. 10.

Police said the person may not have been authorized to sell the Palmetto Roses.

The victims said they were catcalled when they refused to buy a rose, which then escalated into violence along South Market Street.

Investigators said they’re still working to find out the person’s identity. If you have any information, call CrimeStoppers at 843-554-1111.