Anything is frameable,” asserts Amanda Bennett. She should know. As the owner of Bennetts’ Frame & Art Gallery on Laurens Road, she has put molding around a mind-boggling array of items from paintings and mirrors to baseballs and christening gowns.
Her most memorable framing job? “That has to be the woman who brought in dryer lint to frame because she liked the way the colors looked,” Amanda recalls. “Another time, we had a gentleman who had just enjoyed his last cigar, and we framed the cigar butt in a shadow box with a little brass plate bearing his name and the date he quit smoking.”
It’s all in a day’s work for Bennett, who purchased her parents’ frame shop and art gallery in 1994. “I always thought I would go into the family business,” reflects the entrepreneur, who grew up helping her parents in the shop, “but I knew I didn’t want to do that right after college.” After graduating from Winthrop University with a degree in interior decorating, she headed to Boston, where she brushed up on her art knowledge while working in a gallery for two years.
Although Bennett’s Greenville gallery sells work by artists from around the globe, as well as local ones, custom framing is her bread and butter—and a métier that requires an artistic frame of mind. “You have to have a good eye for design,” notes Amanda. “It’s important to enhance the art and not to take away from it. Often, that means being very minimal with framing.”
But Bennett’s talents stretch beyond framing. Last June she was handing a customer a finished piece when a light bulb went off. “When I looked at the framed piece, I thought, ‘This size and this molding would make a really neat serving tray.’ So after she left, I ran to a fabric store and bought a yard of fabric and framed it. And I bought some pretty cabinet pulls and put them on the sides.” Bennett had barely set the tray on the front counter when it sold. And so her complementary business, Amanda Carol Home, “a creative collection,” was born. She currently makes three sizes of trays in 25–30 different fabrics and will soon be launching a line of framed fabric-covered headboards and room-divider screens.
Her creativity flows from knowing the tastes of her customers, many of whom have become friends over the years. When she first bought the business, she had a beagle named Monet who came to work with her every day. “To this day, I still have customers who ask me about Monet and remember her,” Amanda says. “It’s things like that that make this more than just a job.”