When Craig Conover was in seventh grade, living in Fenwick Island, Delaware, he fell in love with his home economics class.
For half of the class the students practiced sewing and the other half they worked on their cooking skills. The next time he would return to sewing would be as an adult, over 12 years later, and now a side hustle has turned into a successful business with Sewing Down South.
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Conover, who is a cast member of the Bravo show “Southern Charm,” is also an attorney who now lives in Charleston, South Carolina. His life has seen many twists and turns since arriving at Charleston School of Law and graduating in 2010, but it all led him to stop in Columbus on September 11, for The Fall Dispatch Home & Garden. Show.
Conover, 33, spoke with The Dispatch about his career journey, how he got involved with ‘Southern Charm’ and more ahead of his appearance this week.
Q: For people who may not be familiar with the show “Southern Charm”, what is the premise?
Convert : The show is based in Charleston, South Carolina. It all started eight years ago as a result of a group of friends trying to navigate the old world-new world situation that is happening in Charleston. There’s a lot of old school money and new school money and then there’s me moving up north, I went to law school there and I was trying to navigate across town and finding my way… Now it’s followed me through relationships and now my business Sewing Down South.
Q: Do you consider yourself a Southerner or a Northerner?
Convert :I felt at home in the South because where I grew up (there was) a lot of farmland. It was a kind of country life. On the other hand, I didn’t like country music. When my parents moved me to Charleston, they knew I would never come back. I love visiting Delaware and where I grew up, but Charleston was what I’ve always been looking for, a higher sense of fashion and a more urban vibe. It’s a city with a small town feel, I just wanted that. Where I was from we called it “lower and slower Delaware” – it was great but I wanted a faster pace. I wanted something more adventurous. I will always be proud to be from the North, but I love living in the South.
Q: Your business has really taken off. How does it feel to be part of it?
Converse: It’s exciting because I get to share it with everyone who’s supported me over the years and often the people who supported me looked like the craziest people in the room. It’s really nice to be able to follow up on this project which has turned into a movement. …I’ve met a lot of young kids who liked to sew but they didn’t tell anyone because maybe they thought it was a bit taboo. Almost every week I get pictures of kids with their sewing machines and it’s great. I was terribly bullied growing up and had to self-validate. When everyone thought I was stupid for going ahead with my stampede, I believed it and that was all that mattered. It’s fun to share with everyone.
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Q: When did you feel like you wanted to do this as a side business or were you able to start it?
Convert :It’s been long enough now to say that television wasn’t part of the plan. If it hadn’t been for TV, I would have continued with the legal side, but while I love the law, it was basically a way to make money so I could help more people. What I discovered was that the show gave me a nice cushion where I could work on my real passion, which was sewing, and I could start earning money to achieve my philanthropic goals. . … Television has taken my life in another direction.
Q: You mentioned being bullied. How has bullying impacted your life?
Convert :It’s funny how long bullying stays with you. I remember signing my contract for the show and I remember thinking, I hope they have TVs in jail in Delaware so these guys can see me on TV. I thought about it years later. It’s crazy that it sticks to your skin, but I managed to turn it into a positive. I always do that. I was like, finish high school and your life will change. … It prepared me well for reality TV because now no one on the internet or on my show can say anything worse than when I was a kid. I have always been very empathetic. It’s just funny how life works.
Q: Was sewing and interior decorating always an interest of yours as a child?
Convert :We had home economics in seventh grade and half the year we spent sewing and half the year we learned to cook, and I loved it. It has become my favorite class. That’s why I am where I am today. When I picked up a sewing machine, it was like 12 or 13 years later, I remembered the pillow we made in that class. I redid this pillow and went from there.
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Q: What do you want to tell guests about when you arrive at the Fall Dispatch Home & Garden Show?
Convert :I’m so glad they invited me to this fireside chat to talk about my story, the growth of Sewing Down South. One of my goals is basically to convey the message that it’s not selfish to work on your own and you don’t have to live like everyone else. No one in the world thought my idea was good except me. A lot of people assume that if it was a good idea it would have been done by now so I want to talk about it trying to bring some fun into the struggles a lot of people don’t realize someone on TV or a company prosperous has gone through, and I have a lot to tell. …I’ve done home shows in Florida and at LSU business school and often I come out with people thinking I’m more approachable than they thought, so I’m excited to meet any the world.
In one look
The Fall Dispatch Home & Garden Show will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the Ohio Expo Center, Interstate 71 and East 17th Avenue. Craig Conover will visit at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets for the show are free. Parking is $5.
For a complete list of vendors as well as daily events and activities, visit www.dispatchshows.com.