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Checking in with Daquan Mickens

Fast Facts About Daquan Mickens

Daquan Mickens is the Sales Manager for Visit Beaufort Port-Royal and The Sea Islands in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Visit Beaufort, Port Royal and Sea Islands is the destination marketing organization for the north Beaufort County region of South Carolina. It was previously combined with the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce until about five years ago. Now, Visit Beaufort, Port Royal and Sea Islands welcomes visitors to its archipelago, which features natural beauty, a rich history and abundant activities. The organization leisure travel, group travel, meetings and sporting events.

Hometown: Spartanburg, South Carolina

Education: Mass communications degree from Lander University

Employment History: After graduating from college, Mickens moved to Beaufort sight unseen for his wife’s job. He worked as the communications coordinator for Every Second Counts Escape Rooms until he joined Visit Beaufort Port-Royal and The Sea Islands in 2021.

Family: Mickens has been married to his wife, Mariah, for five years. They have a 2-year-old Weimaraner-mastiff mix named Saber. 

Hobbies: Mickens is a Carolina sports fanatic, supporting his home teams the Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets and the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Daquan Mickens moved to Beaufort, South Carolina, four years ago without having ever been there. You could say he moved for love, because it was his wife Mariah’s nursing career that brought the couple there. The couple met while in college in Greenwood, South Carolina, not far from Spartanburg, where Mickens was raised.

“She got a job offer at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, and we decided to go for it,” said Mickens. “We didn’t know anything about Beaufort — we had heard of it but had never been there. We knew Hilton Head, so we actually stayed there while she interviewed. We thought we’d see what the town was like, and we loved it immediately. We like the environment of a small town and the feeling that Beaufort has. Our family asked us to move back, but we just can’t do it — we just love it here so much.”

Mickens put his degree in mass communications to use by getting a job as the communications coordinator for Every Second Counts Escape Rooms, a Beaufort staple that offers themed escape rooms that are a hit with tourists and locals alike. During his time at Every Second Counts, Mickens met Robb Wells, president and CEO of Visit Beaufort-Port Royal and the Sea Islands. That was the start of Mickens’ networking in the area.

Great Escape

Like everything else, Every Second Counts shut their doors when Covid hit. Mickens continued to do marketing online for the business from home. Meanwhile, Mickens was on the lookout for new opportunities as he and his wife got to know their new hometown.

“I always thought I’d live in a bigger city, and I’ve never lived near the water,” said Mickens. “Everything here is at a slower pace — we like to say we’re on ‘island time’ here. This area is actually made up of 66 islands. Growing up, I had only ever been to the coast every few years on vacation, and here, we’re surrounded by water. It’s so nice having that coastal lifestyle.”

That small-town vibe turned out to have its advantages. Mickens had already been introduced to Wells, who is involved in the Beaufort Chamber of Commerce, of which Every Second Counts is a member. In fact, the chamber and the CVB were once the same organization and only split about five years ago. In Mickens’ case, that everybody-knows-everybody network was an advantage when he went looking for new opportunities.

“I saw the sales manager position posted with Visit Beaufort and called Robb,” Mickens said. “One thing led to another, and I got the job, which I love because I love promoting this area.”

Show Stoppers

As sales manager, Mickens works with Linda Jefferies, director of sales, to promote the region at conferences and trade shows.

“We help planners who are planning trips, whether that’s motor coach, family reunions, sports tournaments, work retreats or conferences, to show them what kinds of options we have in Beaufort,” said Mickens. “We have a lot to offer, so we want to show them a sample itinerary and use our relationships to give them leads on hotels, restaurants and attractions that will be the perfect places to host them.”

As a sports fan, Mickens also works closely with the Beaufort Sports Council, promoting Beaufort as a prime location for a wide range of sports organizations to hold tournaments and expand into different markets. Beaufort offers opportunities for baseball, basketball and softball team tournaments, and also for more off-radar sports like kayaking, Olympic lifting and red fish fishing.

“I’m kind of biased because I played football in high school and in college, so my biggest passion is sports,” said Mickens. “To be able to be in sports, talk sports and bring sports to this area is one of my favorite things about my job.”

Discovering Beaufort’s Roots

One thing that surprised Mickens was discovering how rich the area’s history is, particularly from the Reconstruction era after the Civil War.

“The Reconstruction era is overlooked — you go straight from the Civil War into the next segment, but in Beaufort after the war, slaves became citizens and had to work to be seen as equal, so I think that’s a really cool story,” said Mickens. “There’s a lot of African American history in town. The Penn Center was one of the first schools opened to teach newly freed slaves to read and write. Martin Luther King spent some time here, and he actually started to pen some of his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech while in Beaufort. Harriet Tubman spent time in Beaufort, too, and is getting a monument.”

The area is also part of the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a National Heritage Area along the Southeast coast that highlights the history and culture of the descendants of enslaved Africans, whose traditions have been preserved in their music, language and culture. One significant citizen from Beaufort was Robert Smalls, a five-term congressman who was born enslaved.

“My younger brother was learning about him in high school and told me about him,” said Mickens. “Smalls was on the CSS Planter, commandeered the ship, and surrendered to the Union army and escaped to freedom with his family. It’s really cool to see that history.”

As Mickens grows in his role, he continues to learn more about the area he now calls home. He and Mariah have discovered that their favorite places aren’t like Hilton Head, with its resorts lining the beachfront, but rather rustic, undeveloped sanctuaries like Hunting Island State Park.

It’s definitely the place I want to start a family and raise kids,” said Mickens. “I really can’t imagine leaving, because a lot of people end up retiring here, too.”