When Philip entered the retail world, he had no retail experience having never even operated a cash register! In 2005 he started Beleza, a women’s accessories boutique in Cameron Village in Raleigh, NC. His background is in education. He taught high school for about twenty years before moving to NC State University, where he eventually retired from the College of Textiles after serving as Director of Admissions and Advising for almost twenty years. It was as a result of his work in the College of Textiles that he started Beleza.
For several years he advised all students in the College and taught them an introductory course in textile practices. In this role he met Kyley Schmidt, a student majoring in Textile Design. Kyley ultimately joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Madagascar where she worked with a village of women who made remarkable silk scarves and shawls starting with the cocoons, a labor intensive process requiring incredible skills. She contacted Philip about helping her develop a market for these products, which was the beginning of his work in fair trade practices around the world.
His extensive world travels introduced him to a number of artisans whose products were outstanding and who, like the women in Madagascar, needed a larger market to sell their products. He soon opened Beleza to provide a market and to bring remarkable products to the USA. He was joined in the effort by his wife, Sara, who married him on September 9, 2006, almost a year after he had opened Beleza. Sara soon took over management of the store and developed it into a destination shopping location for their customers.
Beleza closed on January 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm. Philip and Sara had a wonderful eight years in that location and were appreciative of the customer support they had received. Their desire to continue partnering with the artists resulted in Crafted by Friends, an online shopping experience to allow people to continue enjoying the remarkable products.