I met Susie several years ago when my sister was looking for a cottage to rent on Kiawah Island. She does a terrific job of ensuring that her clients have an amazing vacation and that dedication has quickly built her business to include 30 rental properties. She’s dealt with all sorts of unique challenges (like breaking up the squirrel party on the roof of my sunroom!) and loves to turn vacations into terrific family memories.
Married to: Joe Oringel for 22 years
Children: Jake, 17, Jules, 15, and Daniel, 12
Years in Charlotte: 14
Hometown: I was an Air Force brat and I went to 8 schools in 12 years
Occupation: Founder of Kiawah By Owner, LLC – a vacation rental agency
With all of the fantastic beaches around Charlotte, why did you decide on Kiawah Island as the place to buy a vacation home?
Joe and I moved to Charlotte in 2003 and started talking about getting a small beach cottage. We had visited several beaches and then went to Kiawah – it was the very best! We immediately fell in love with the island and quickly bought and began to renovate a 2-bedroom cottage. We love the natural vegetation on Kiawah with its old oak and magnolia trees. Riding our bikes on the hard packed beach sand and watching the dolphins are our favorites way to enjoy Kiawah.
How did you go from renting your property to building a business?
I was a stay-at-home mom when we bought our cottage and our youngest (Daniel) was 6 months old. I began renting it myself and found I enjoyed helping others plan their beach vacations. One of Joe’s co-workers owned a villa on nearby Seabrook Island and was not happy with her large rental agency and asked me to manage it. I obtained my South Carolina Property Manager’s license and began renting her villa. In the 10 years since I started my business – Kiawah By Owner, we have grown to managing 30 properties. I have 4 other moms in Charlotte work for me part-time from my home and sometimes theirs.
What’s your favorite thing about owning your own business?
I love the flexibility of running my own business. Running Kiawah by Owner is more than a full-time job, yet it allows me to be home for my kids before and after school, to run car pool and be there for all their activities.
What are the biggest challenges you face working from home?
Since I manage 30+ vacation homes, I have to be able to answer my phone 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. So while I have a lot of flexibility of where I work, it is hard for me to have uninterrupted time off.
What is the most memorable thing that you’ve encountered with renters?
I love helping people plan their vacations. One of the first renters I ever worked with got engaged on the beach during their vacation. They now return every year on their vacation and have rented a larger place because they have kids!
What advice would you give to moms renting on VRBO?
Vacation rentals are much more comfortable than hotels when traveling, especially with kids. But make sure to ask the owner some
questions when booking the home. If the owner or rental agent is not responsive when you are booking the vacation, how responsive will they be if you have a question or a problem when you are on vacation?
And now for the lightning round:
Favorite guilty pleasure: Sitting in a beach chair with a good book
Favorite beach read: Any fun summer romance
Best beach cocktail: A frozen margarita – Seabrook Island Beach Club makes a good one, and you can watch the ocean and enjoy a margarita – what a great way to enjoy a beach vacation
Ocean view or marsh: I love watching the sunset over the Kiawah River the most. Though it is fun to spend the day splashing in the ocean or biking along the beach, I enjoy the tranquil river and lagoon views on Kiawah the best.
For more info on Kiawah By Owner, visit www.kiawahbyowner.com.