Born and raised just outside of Memphis, TN, I come from a long line of Southern women who share a deep and almost addictive love of crafting….
It all started with my grandmother who had a love of quilt making and more sewing machines than I could count. My mom found her love of crafting in the form of smocking and sewing clothes for her three daughters and later her four grandchildren. Me? My love of crafting started in the 4th grade with cross stitching. At that time, I was trying my best to master the stenciled cross-stitch kits. Around that same time, my mom was sewing for a company that sold knit multiples. Remember those?? I remember helping her turn all of the belts right side out in the sewing room after she finished sewing them.
Later in high school, my mom taught me how to thread a sewing machine and use sewing patterns. I made several dresses for myself. I took one of my mom’s sewing machines to college at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (go Vols!) and my friend, Brooke, would come over for sewing nights to take away the pressures of college. Shirts…skirts…pants…we tried it all. We learned real quick that we hated sewing zippers! I think I still have nightmares about them.
Moving forward ten or so years, I took up sewing again making baby bedding for my friends, who were bringing sweet little ones into the world. Then I began to dabble in purse making. I loved it and so did my friends! I made purses for everyone who wanted one and even set up a booth selling them at a craft fair at my work office. After a while, I added wristlet keychains, fabric covered photo albums and burp cloths to my collection of purses. Random combo, right? Not sure what I was thinking there. I loved sewing these items so much that I started selling them on Etsy. Working a full-time job with a young daughter and staying up sewing until 1 a.m. every night was not a good combination for me, and, therefore, I ended up hanging up my purse straps and calling it quits in the sewing department for a while.
I would still sew baby bedding for friends and curtains for myself but nothing like before. I had my second child, Reed, in 2010 and became a stay-at-home mom for the first time. I was bored out of my mind! In the fall of 2011, I decided to take up sewing again since I had all of this time at home. This time I stuck with wristlet keychains. I posted them on my Facebook page and got several orders! After some persuasion, I set up a booth at a South Franklin Chick-fil-A Holiday event. It was just the push I needed to get back into my passion of sewing!
I started cat o’neal designs in October 2011 and haven’t stopped since. Now I specialize in wristlet keychains, lanyards and adjustable non-slip headbands - “Practical handmade accessories you didn’t even know you needed but now you can’t live without!” Trust me. I’ve heard it a million times.
My best selling product, the Fobskey, was named by my daughter, Carlyn, when she was just 11. I was trying to come up with a name for my wristlet keychains/key fobs and she said, “Why not Fobskey? It’s key fobs backward!” And that is how the Fobskey name came to be.
Now that you know a little about me and how I got my passion for creating my items, I invite you to grab a cup of coffee (or Diet Coke if you love it as much as I do) and flip through my best selling items. These are going to be your store’s new must-have accessory!