About Us

As lovers of the Lowcountry, we understand that we have a choice in what we buy and from whom we buy it. We have a choice in what we eat – and from where and by whom it’s grown.

Collectively, our choices have great power. To build or break a life. A business. An economy. A city. A culture.

The people of Lowcountry Local First offer a simple solution: Choose The Lowcountry.

It’s an understanding that if we choose to neglect the Lowcountry, something beautiful, meaningful, and unique fades away.

Lowcountry Local First is a way of life that celebrates and supports what we love most: the local, independent businesses and farmers who reflect the unique character, flavor, and culture of the place we call home.

You have a choice. To choose the Lowcountry with your dollars. Your vote. Your voice. Your heart.

So, choose – with everything you’ve got.


1630 Meeting Street Road, Building #2
Charleston, SC 29405

Lowcountry Local First cultivates an economy anchored in local ownership, because local-independent businesses are the cornerstone of our culture, economy, and character.


See what local, regional and national media outlets are saying about Lowcountry Local First: VIEW



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We’re almost always on the lookout for volunteers who can help with event coordination, office work (filing, mailing, phone calls, etc.), or even getting your hands in the dirt for a day. If you have the time, talents and passion, we’d love to hear from you at volunteer@lowcountrylocalfirst.org.

Staff photos below provided by Susan Lloyd Photography.


Jamee Haley

Executive Director

Recklessly optimistic that the world can be a better place. She leads the organization with fierce determination to show the value our homegrown businesses bring to our community and quality of life. People connector, big idea thinker and new idea junkie.

Favorite quote (not just because of the name) Buckminster Fuller; "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." Jamee also currently serves City of Charleston’s Health and Wellness Advisory Committee, College of Charleston’s Sustainability Literacy Institute’s Advisory Board and Together SC's Lowcountry Membership Chair.

Lauren Gellatly

Community Development Director

Forever optimistic to change the traditional model of economic development and to prevent Charleston from becoming “Anywhere, USA,” Lauren works on advocacy and community development projects, as well as leads the Good Business Summit and Workshops. Armed with strategy, stats and process, Lauren works with independent businesses, consumers, and policymakers to cultivate place-based economic development with a grassroots-y approach. After going to school for city-preserving (B.A. @ College of Charleston), then city-planning (M.S. @ Pratt Institute), Lauren found a use for her 15-year strong boycott of Walmart and joined the team at Lowcountry Local First in 2013. Lauren also serves on the ReThink Folly Road steering committee.

Larry Downey

Community Manager

They say Rome wasn't built in a day... neither is a thriving local economy, or an epic beard. Larry is dedicated to both! As Community Manager his focus is connecting members in a way that strengthens the bonds of Localism. That means he has a deep understanding of the members who are engaged and because of that understanding, he can make sure the right people get a chance to meet each other. This love for making connections translates to helping businesses at Local Works, LLF's coworking space, make connections with the larger community of local businesses. When he's not playing business matchmaker, you can find him fixing the internet, cursing the printer, taking out the trash, or chasing lizards from under desks.

Jordan Amaker

Director of Marketing and Communications

Jordan came to be the lead story-wrangler and cheerleader for the organization after 7 years in the marketing agency world. She claims to have the easiest job at Lowcountry Local First, promoting the many reasons consumers, policy-makers and the business community should support one another and create real prosperity. When not touting the local scene, you may find her on her bike, in Hampton Park, or listening to her husband perform spoken word. Jordan served on the board of directors for Charleston Moves from 2011 - 2017, previously served on the board of the Charleston American Marketing Association and chaired the 2013 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Brian Wheat

Director of Sustainable Agriculture

Starting with his toddler days of being propped up next to a basket of peaches in his grandfather’s orchard and selling pumpkins at his family's roadside stand through his years educating high schoolers about food systems, production, and nutrition via schoolyard gardens, Brian’s background in plant science and deep connection to ecology have always been steering him towards educating and supporting farmers. Life in Upstate, New York and Minneapolis, Minnesota just got too darn cold for him and the idea of an extended growing season led him, inevitably, to Charleston where he helps to support and promote sustainable agriculture and ushers beginning farmers towards realizing their vision. Also an avid forager, cook, and musician, we would like to think his addition to the team sets us up nicely for any emergency/apocalypse-type situations. Brian also serves on the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education (SARE) committee.

C.T. Burton

Engagement Coordinator

C.T. is a firecracker visionary with a people-loving personality that lights up any room. She focused on hospitality and event management while studying at the College of Charleston, and was the recipient of the School of Business’ Outstanding Student of the Year Excel Award in 2011.
She has found great success in the event planning and management world in Charleston, through events like the Jewish Community Center’s KidsFair and the City of Charleston’s First Day Fest. C.T. also served as Market Manager for the Charleston Black Expo and as an event organizer for the 2017 Taste of Black Charleston Chef event at the SC Aquarium that exceeded 1,300 people.
C.T. continues to advocate for and connect local businesses with Lowcountry Local First. As a small business owner, she understands the importance of relationships and having access to resources in this community.

Maud Bentley

Graphic Designer

Never one to shy away from bright colors or bold patterns, Maud is the creative crusader at Lowcountry Local First where she brings visual awareness to the local movement in Charleston. Some might call her attention to detail and design fanatical —we call it brilliant. Maud has been conquering the design world since 2013 when she launched her own freelance graphic design business after earning a degree in Art History from the University of Virginia and mastering a multitude of various design courses.

Kaylee Schuh

Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant

Kaylee brings her love of numbers and organization to Lowcountry Local First with a background in nonprofit and small business bookkeeping. When not working hard to further the Local cause, she is completing her bachelors degree in accounting and finding time to enjoy Charleston’s beaches and booming food scene. In her past life she was a “mathlete,” on her school’s engineering team and rocked out in the math and science clubs. Lucky us to be able to witness her expertise at work! Her life motto? “If you aren’t happy with your life, change things until you are. If you can’t change something, change your attitude about it.”

Board of Directors

Jennifer Murray

South State Bank

Nicki Root

Grassroots Wine Wholesalers
Vice Chair

Terri Thomas

Central Park Accounting

Dave Dawson

Urban Electric Company

Jessica Derrick

Garden & Gun      

Ted Dombrowski

Ted’s Butcherblock

Stephanie Hall

Ruth’s House Event Rentals

“Mini” Mariana Hay

Croghan’s Jewel Box

Katherine Perrin

Perrin Woodworking

Meredith Siemens

South Carolina Federal Credit Union

Adam Steen

Steen Enterprises

Jean-Marc Villain

Medical University of South Carolina

Employment and Internship Opportunities

Director of Development – Posted December 2017


Meet Our Neighborhood Captain Volunteers!

Liz Rennie
Charleston Mattress
Park Circle / North Charleston Area

Cat Taylor
Byrdhouse PR
Downtown Area

Ric Sommons
West Ashley Area

Hugh Corcoran
Wild Blue Ropes
James Island Area

Emily Mosh
Kiawah River
West Ashley area

The role of the Lowcountry Local First Neighborhood Captain is to be a leader and a connector of local businesses, farmers, non-profit organizations and individuals in the neighborhood where their business is located. They are the “feet on the ground” in terms of the local movement and a peer supporter of local, independent businesses.

Please contact Larry Downey at Larry@lowcountrylocalfirst.org if you are interested in becoming a Neighborhood Captain.


1630 Meeting Street Road, Building #2
Charleston, SC 29405