Carmen Bond brings sophisticated Southern charm to Memphis as owner of Social, a shop for gracious living. She believes that we should never stop learning, and she genuinely loves interacting with people who share her passion for creativity, especially the talented team at Social!
Did you grow up in Memphis?
No. Though I have lived in Memphis for 25 years, I am from Pontotoc, MS. I grew up in the country and loved every minute of it. My mom was a city girl growing up, and she exposed me to tons of culture during my adolescence. I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned from my parents! One day I might be picking peaches in the orchard with my dad or learning to cook from my mom, and another day my mom might take me to a musical in the big city. I had the perfect mix of town and country, and that description perfectly reflects my style to this day.
When did you become interested in the creative pursuit of owning a multifaceted shop and working as an interior designer?
I have been a “below-the-radar” designer/decorator for more than 20 years, only taking on a couple of projects at time. I’ve always collected found objects and fun and interesting finds, and things really began to accumulate. It was difficult to even walk or work around all of it, so the idea for the shop was born.
What led up to the opening of Social just over a year ago?
My friend Camille (Mueller) stopped by one day in May 2012 to see if she could help me start organizing some things. To her shock and my embarrassment, she quizzed me on what I planned to do with all this “stuff.” I explained that I had always thought I would open a shop.
She challenged me to open my shop and start selling OR stop buying altogether. Two months later, I broached the subject with my husband, Matt, and to my surprise he thought it might be good to give it a shot. Camille committed to coming on board, and we made reservations to attend market the next month to buy a few “pick-up” gifts and some new home items to go with all these other collected pieces. By the time we got back home we had ordered a full-service gift shop.
What do you enjoy most about owning your own store?
I really love digging and searching for beautiful things. I can’t have all of them, so owning a shop and sharing them with others satisfies a huge itch for me. Also, I really have met some great people along the way. Everyone has been so supportive, and it has been great when people have given me tips or constructive criticism to help me grow as a person and a businesswoman. I still have so much to learn, and I welcome this growth.
With wedding season in full swing, let’s talk about Social Brides! You now have a full-service bridal registry. What are some items your brides are coveting this season that might be unique to Social?
We are fortunate that we are able to offer another local source to brides. When we opened, we had not even considered a bridal registry. Then another long-time wonderful shop in the area closed, and we were approached about picking up where they left off. We felt like we could be another great source for our local brides.
We are finding that although most Southern brides are still super-traditional with their fine china, which we do offer, they enjoy experimenting with the fun everyday pieces from potters all over the country that we carry, too. A lot of them can be mixed and matched, which makes their entertaining choices increase and become really fun. We have an excellent staff with the finest taste, and we are always anxious to help the brides come up with pieces that represent their personality as a couple.
Are there any local or national charities that are close to your heart?
Any charitable cause that helps others, especially children, means the world to me! My husband and I support many charities because we are keenly aware that giving back is not only beyond necessary, it is extremely rewarding, too. I have been involved with Le Bonheur Club for several years and love and support its mission. I have an autistic stepson, so I am always supportive of any charity that promotes Autism Awareness.
My husband and I love, love, love the arts, so we support any charity that makes it their mission to keep the arts moving forward in Memphis. Currently, Matt and I are very interested and dedicated in making sure our wonderful Memphis Symphony keeps moving in a positive direction.
Do you have a favorite vacation or travel destination?
I love to travel, and those who know me well will tell you that I can flat-out plan a trip — amazing, crazy, fun, unique trips! And I didn’t say expensive, either. So, if anyone reading this wants a great trip planned for them, please see me. It is therapeutic for me and brings me great joy.
As far as favorite vacations, I am in a happy state when I am enjoying the simple life in Watersound, FL. It is a great place for me to wind down and relax. Hands down, though, would be all of the experiences I have had in France, either with my mom on her student educational trips, or with my husband on crazy fun trips that just sort of “happen.”
What Memphis summer events are you most looking forward to?
We love music, so we love Live at the Garden with our friends. I always try to get a Redbirds game in because I am a true believer that baseball really is America’s sport. Plus I really enjoy the slow pace, which, of course, is best enjoyed in the company of several friends!
Do you have a few favorites when it comes to local dining?
Wow, that is tough, but you did put an “s” at the end of favorite!
My husband, Matt, and I have been involved with River Oaks since its inception. We really gained a gem when José Gutierrez came on board. He is one of the finest and most talented chefs in this country.
I have been friends with Wally (Chef Wally Joe) for a really long time and love dining at Acre. He is also my neighbor at Social, so we will always support him. We enjoy taking out-of-town reps there.
I also love popping into the Grove Grill, one of my go-to places. Jeff Dunham is one of the nicest guys I know, and his food is always delicious.
Iris is definitely one of our favorites. It is now harder to get a reservation, as we are last-minute planners, but when I do, I feel like I am being treated to finery.
One place that Matt and I just can’t get enough of is Andrew Michael. The delicious-ness never ends! These guys are doing amazing things, and I am so glad to call them friends.
Have you read any good books lately?
I am one of those people who starts three or four books at a time and takes forever to finish them. The only exception is the summer beach read, which we all know contributes no literary growth or adds to my knowledge of anything. Some that I’ve begun are: Cleopatra: A Life, Foodways (given to me by the author and dear friend John T. Edge) and Beautiful Ruins.
Is there one beauty product or regimen that you could not do without?
After years of experimenting with numerous products, I have found that the best product for my skin, which I am possibly addicted to, is Olio Lusso face oil. I use it only once or twice a week. As far as makeup, I try all sorts of new products, but I am praying that Tom Ford never discontinues his Traceless Foundation stick. It changed my makeup look for the better.
Name three things that you could not live without, excluding friends, family and faith.
I can’t live without the gifts of humility, kindness or laughter.
As for worldly desires, I guess I wouldn’t want to live without the ability to travel; the ability to have a meal of anything with white truffles, dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt, and a really good glass of red wine; or being able to give meaningful things to my children, nieces and nephews. I am really thankful that I can do or have been able to do those things!
Thank you, Carmen!
And thank you to Whitney McNeill for the wonderful photos of Carmen taken at Social.