Meet Debbie & Paul Whitsett

DebbieMeet Debbie and Paul Whitsett, the dynamic mother-son duo behind Olive's Mud Puddle, where creativity and artistry flow through generations!

If you've ever strolled along Main Street in Downtown Fort Mill, you'd likely recognize Debbie Whitsett's smiling face. She's not just the resident artist and owner of Olive's Mud Puddle; she's the creative force behind the shop's vibrant atmosphere. Debbie's artistic flair is evident in every corner of the studio, from her numerous murals and sculptures to paintings. But her talents extend beyond the studio walls; for the past seven years, she's been commissioned to craft the official South Carolina Strawberry Festival poster. Her sculpted strawberries have become iconic symbols of Fort Mill's charm.

But behind every great artist stands a supportive family, and Paul, Debbie's son, plays an integral role in Olive's Mud Puddle. With a grin as infectious as his mother's, Paul inherited more than just Debbie's smile; he's also inherited her passion for creativity.

Together, Debbie and Paul create a warm and welcoming environment at Olive's Mud Puddle, where visitors can admire art and participate in the creative process.

Paul WhitsettMore than a Coffee Shop

In 2012, artist Debbie Whitsett founded Olive's Mud Puddle, a space for creatives to work on their craft in a supportive community. In 2016, Olive's expanded within their space to include a coffee shop called "The Mud Puddle." With the two spaces combined, an art studio/coffee shop was born, offering a place where creative minds could gather over a warm cup of coffee or wine.

In early 2021, Debbie's son, Paul Whitsett, a talented musician, joined the family business. Paul, a self-proclaimed coffee nerd, found his passion for the arts to be a perfect fit for the company. Together, they run the business, offering coffee and art in a one-stop shop for the Fort Mill community.

"I love being surrounded by creative energy, whether visual or musical. As a matter of fact, I believe they go together and play off of each other. The space needed to be a relaxing, down to earth atmosphere to embrace all - the accomplished artist as well as the artist just starting out."

Why Fort Mill?

Debbie initially resided in Charlotte but frequently visited the Anne Springs Close Greenway, walking her dog almost daily. As an empty nester looking to downsize, Debbie knew one thing for sure.

"I used to visit the greenway every day with my dog. I still love it and know nearly every inch of it by heart. So, it became clear that we needed to live near the greenway."

They moved into a small millhouse that couldn't accommodate Debbie's kiln and studio furniture. Debbie then set her sights on a commercial building in Downtown Fort Mill.

"Main Street is so close to my house, and I felt it would be a great place to set up shop. I also sensed it would grow. So, I closely watched the street for an available spot. Finally, one became available! I contacted the owner, and after some negotiation, I secured the space. It was incredibly exciting!"

Coffee Olive'sArt in a Cup of Coffee

Paul's love for coffee began to blossom while singing opera in Italy. Though he knew little about coffee then, he consumed it nonstop while living in the "Bel Paese." His obsession with craft coffee took off when he moved to Oregon, where the Pacific Northwest craft coffee scene was thriving.

"There is an art to making a good cup of coffee, and Paul is a coffee nerd bringing that coffee culture here. His musical passion adds to the artistry; it all comes together to make Olive’s come alive."

Paul's expertise in coffee is evident on Olive's Mud Puddle's social media platforms, where he shares tips, tricks, and humor.

A Family Affair

Running a family business presents its challenges but is deeply fulfilling, and Olive's Mud Puddle exemplifies the extraordinary rewards that come with it.

"Knowing when to speak up and step aside is challenging. Allowing them to handle some of the things you want to manage yourself can be difficult. In the end, more often than not, it's better to step aside. Other than that, we are pretty much in sync regarding the coffee and artistry."Paul and Debbie Laughing

The Future of Olive's

Currently, the team at Olive's Mud Puddle is taking each day as it comes, adjusting month by month to meet the evolving needs of the business and supporting the Fort Mill community.

"We take it daily, month by month, as we always have. We don’t like to look too far ahead or too far behind. That's how we've managed to survive, even through Covid. When something needs changing, we adapt as necessary."

Although they're focused on the present, Debbie is hopeful for an expansion to provide more space for artists to practice their craft.

"We do need to expand and are working towards that goal. We have a waiting list for classes in the back, so it would be great to make room for that."

Olive's Mud Puddle opens its doors daily at 8 a.m., offering a warm atmosphere and serving delicious coffee roasted by Hex Coffee Roasters in Charlotte. The cafe also hosts numerous events to engage the Fort Mill community, with details available on its website.