Photos by Ruta Smith

 There’s an elegance and grace about Kathleen Hay Hagood that masks something you might not expect: She was kind of a klutzy kid.

“I was very accident-prone as a child and am still somewhat now,” the 33-year-old Charleston native recalled while sitting on a sofa in her light-filled West Ashley home. 

Most notable was the time during preschool when she broke her leg while walking on buckets as stilts. She had to wear a cast that went to her knee until the bone healed.

Other accidents: She sprained her neck when falling out of a friend’s bed (neck brace required) and also sprained an arm while falling down some steps (soft cast needed). 

“I even had a bad burn on my foot from a bonfire on No Name Island on a boat picnic and had to be on crutches for several weeks,” she remembered.

You’d never expect any of this today. She almost floats through the two-story stucco home where she lives with her husband, Andrew, and toddler, James. It’s filled with heirloom family furniture, modern pieces and walls punctuated with colorful Lowcountry paintings and art. On a table are several silver-framed family photographs. Nearby in a bookcase is a silver cup that documents a 2017 victory in a family crab-catching derby.

“I adore our city,” said Hagood, who works as a buyer, salesperson and marketing guru at Croghan’s Jewel Box, a King Street institution started by a great grandfather more than 100 years ago.

“Every day, I wake up and am so grateful to live in this beautiful place. I feel like my appreciation for this place is even greater when I am on or near the water. Sunsets, bright sunny days, marsh grass in the spring and fall, even the smell of pluff mud make me happy.” 

Keeping it in the family
After graduating from Ashley Hall, Hagood attended Clemson University where she got a degree in marketing. She then moved to New York City for more than three years, where she earned a degree from the Gemological Institute of America and had an internship with the famed jeweler Cartier. Then, she worked as a sales and production assistant at Seaman Schepps, another respected jeweler of note that had Jacqueline Onassis as a client. As part of the job, she worked jewelry trunk shows and in retail stores from Switzerland and Nantucket.

But, the Lowcountry and her family business lured her back. 

“I loved everything about New York, but I felt it was time to be serious,” she said, reflecting on her move back in 2014.

Soon she started dating Andrew Hagood, three years her senior. She knew him from growing up downtown just a couple of houses away, but they didn’t start dating until she came home. It wasn’t too long before they got engaged and then married. A couple of years ago came their first child.

Through it all, Hagood has worked alongside her mother, Mariana Hay; aunt, Rhett Outten; and sister, Mini Hay Avant. Recently, her brother, Mikell Hay, joined the business where family members and employees multitask to keep it thriving, even through a pandemic. Hagood works in several roles — sales, buying jewelry and marketing of the business, particularly on social media. 

“I became interested in the reporting and buying and how fast things sell and replenishing things,” she said. “They always laugh that I’m the dorky one who likes to study the reports.”

In 2014, Hagood’s sister designed the store’s unique Goldbug line to sell creative gold jewelry featuring gold Palmetto bugs. The sisters operate the venture, which recently expanded its line to include other natural elements, such as bees and honeycomb designs.

“We wanted to create something with a Charleston orientation that was different from sweetgrass baskets,” Hagood said. “This golden cockroach now has gotten very famous and become a brand. I just love its quirky nature, and it’s something that reminds me of home that’s not too serious.”

Family is a top priority
The Hagoods make it a priority to spend lots of time with members of the Hay and Hagood families, even though Kathleen works every day with her clan on King Street.

She likes to take walks in her Moreland neighborhood and sit to soak up the sun. On weekends, the Hagoods are often outdoors visiting with family members on Sullivan’s Island or in the country. When the weather’s good, they may borrow a boat to get out on the water.

“We love going out as a family on adventures together,” she said. “My family has always had boats, and we spend many days each year on the water fishing, going to the beach and riding around.”

These days, she and her husband also spend a lot of time with their son, who turns 2 in April. His presence is easy to discern as he runs and thuds down an upstairs hallway. 

“I dream of a growing family,” Hagood said. Laughing, she added, “This little guy has been so wild it has caused us to pause for awhile.”

She also is taking more time to appreciate the little things of life.

“Taking time to enjoy the people and things that bring you joy is crucial,” Hagood said. “That’s what I try to do every day. There’s always something to be happy about. I do think there’s always something to celebrate and be grateful for so many blessings.”