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Partygoers left historic downtown Charleston behind for a slice of Italy during a lovely evening at YEScarolina’s Under the Tuscan Stars Gala. Guests entered the Memminger Auditorium through the garden, stepping through the doors to a space illuminated with charming strands of decorative bulbs and filled with the beautiful sounds of live music from Art Institute students and the mouthwatering smells of hors d’oeuvres and antipasto. 

The crowd was young, beautiful, and well-dressed, and everyone enjoyed the  mozzarella balls, marinated vegetables, and crab-stuffed endive showcased beneath an impressive ice sculpture. The silent auction drew a number of eager bidders, but the YEScarolina kids really stole the show. 

These young entrepreneurs each set up a table showcasing their business and business plan, and they invited partygoers to ask questions and hear more about their ideas. The entrepreneurial endeavors ranged from State Business Plan competition finalist Adam Zerbst’s Cajun Crunch snack food to Kesha Rainey’s glitzy jewelry design company, Jadore Pearls. “And if you’re looking for Christmas gifts,” Rainey said, with a thousand watt smile, “then you should check out my catalogue!” 

Partygoers were then invited in two a delicious three course meal - fresh Caesar salad, savory steak, and Tuscan-style dessert - along with a live auction and fashion show. YEScarolina founder Jimmy Bailey welcomed the crowd and introduced the evening’s guest of honor, fashion designer Zoe Damacela. Damacela, a sophomore at Northwestern University, shared her inspiring story of overcoming hardships to become a wildly successful youth entrepreneur. 

The live auction kicked off, and it quickly became clear that Damacela’s story and designs had struck a chord with the crowd: Damacela’s custom-designed garment went for a whopping $1,500. 

Everyone was then treated to a chic, high-energy catwalk show of Damacela’s designs, which received a standing ovation from the crowd. 

As the inspiring, wonderful evening with YEScarolina drew to a close, guests couldn’t help reflecting on the ambition, talent, and poise of the many young entrepreneurs showcased during the party. 

Youth Entrepreneurship South Carolina (YEScarolina) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preparing students to be tomorrow’s business owners. YESCarolina believes that South Carolina’s future is dependent upon a strong entrepreneurial economy, and they have helped thousands of young people from all socio-economic backgrounds build business skills statewide.