“If Columbia were a wine, I think it would be a red blend,” says Bianca Crawford Shelton. “This city is a great mix of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and professions. But it’s really smooth going down and is very enjoyable.”
Bianca loves wine. And she adores Columbia. Whenever she can find a free moment between being a mom and running her successful marketing firm, she enjoys a glass of red wine at Halls Chophouse in the heart of the city across from the State House.
Although she grew up in Anderson near Clemson University, she knew Columbia was where she belonged when she visited the University of South Carolina in high school. “One of the things I really loved about Columbia is that there was so much opportunity here and so many ways to get connected,” she says. So, Bianca didn’t waste time getting to know people.
“I always wanted to be super involved in my community,” she says. Bianca loved following the arts and attending plays and ballets at the Koger Center. And she especially enjoyed Columbia’s nightlife. Social by nature, Bianca found it easy to meet people after 5 p.m. But Bianca was not just all fun and games. “I was also very connected to the business community and politics. I felt like if I was going to be in the capital city, I should at least know what was on the legislative agenda.”
In 2007, Bianca launched a strategic communications firm, The Crawford Austin Agency. Additionally, she helped spearhead several organizations for young professionals that ensured fair representation and connection to Columbia’s growing marketplace. Her contributions to Columbia have helped many young people, especially minorities, explore many exciting professional opportunities in the city.
Now a new mom, Bianca’s experi-ence of Columbia is evolving. “I’m going to EdVenture instead of hanging out at Bourbon now,” she says with a laugh. She loves taking her daughter to art classes at the Columbia Museum of Art, painting pottery at the Mad Platter on Millwood Avenue, and exploring Columbia’s many public parks. She has also discovered that almost every museum has free or discounted days. “No matter your economic situation, you can experience so much of what Columbia has to offer,” says Bianca. She also loves strolling down Main Street’s wide sidewalks while her daughter searches for the tiny bronze salamander statues hidden around town.
As an Experience Columbia SC 2023 ambassador, Bianca has many recommendations and advice for anyone wanting to get more connected to the city. “The key thing is to figure out what brings you joy,” she says. “Figure out your scene.” Then hop right in. “It doesn’t take long to navigate Columbia socially because everyone is connected by just a few degrees.” Bianca has observed that although many Columbia natives move away for a season, they typically always return.
Discover more ways to experience Columbia at ExperienceColumbiaSC.com,
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