Over the course of 7 Southern Charm seasons, we’ve come to know and love Craig Conover. However, there was so much we didn’t know — until now. The Southern Charm star and entrepreneur shows us new shades of himself in his debut memoir, Pillow Talk: What’s Wrong With My Sewing? The book, which is available now, dives deep into his childhood in “lower, slower Delaware” to his breakout moment on the Charleston-set Southern Charm. Craig also opens up about his Adderall addiction and hopes that telling his story can help others.
In addition to Southern Charm, Craig is now running the wildly successful Sewing Down South. Despite the criticism he received initially about his sewing — never forget the “what’s wrong with my sewing?” moment — Craig has taken one of his passions and turned it into an entrepreneurial triumph. Read our Q&A below:
You have pursued many endeavors over the years. What was the book-writing process like?
Craig Conover: It was basically one big therapy session. I have never really taken that hard of a look in the mirror at myself. It was nice because I finally got to a place in my life where I’m happy at the moment. I’m not as shameful as I used to be. When I was hooked up on Adderall, obviously, you’re ashamed of it. Before I got my business off the ground, you’re shameful. I was finally just in a clear headspace, so when I was approached to do this, I was very humbled by it. I just didn’t think I had the stories to tell as we got into it. Basically, I would just drive around in my car with my phone synced to my jeep and I would just talk. As I went on and on, the layers started to be peeled back. It was quite enjoyable. As vulnerable as I was, it was a nice experience.
You do get vulnerable about a number of different topics. Was there anything you were particularly nervous about really opening up and discussing in your book?
Craig Conover: I mean, obviously, having to face the fact that Adderall has had a lot of consequences on my life, personal life, work… you know, felt a little silly because while you’re hooked on something you really blame everything else or everyone else. You never blame whatever you may be fighting, but really taking accountability was a little difficult at times. But, fortunately, for some of the tougher chapters, like when I talked about my relationship with Naomie [Olindo], she interviewed with my writers, so that was good. Obviously, now I’ve found out that people just write books and don’t do that. And then it comes out and everyone’s like, “Wait, what the heck?” So, fortunately, Naomie and Kory were interviewed for the book. It was nice that I included people, but if I hadn’t included them, that would have been kind of nerve-wracking.
You talk about your relationship with Naomie a lot in the book, and you just mentioned she was interviewed for the book. Was it important to you to make sure that you did speak to her or at least have someone speak to her about your relationship?
Craig Conover: Definitely. I don’t think it was just my story to tell. I think there are two sides to every story, especially with relationships and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. I think my writer was really excited that I wanted to have her included, and he was happy that most of our stories pretty much matched up. He was really surprised by it. I definitely would not have told as much of the story as I did if she wasn’t involved. I’m glad the timing just worked out, and we were able to tell our story because I think it can help people reading this book who are going through something similar. Breakups are tough, and a lot of times you don’t know what to do, especially once you get in your mid-20s. It kind of screws with your head a little bit. I’ve gotten a lot of positive messages from people being like, I’m going through something very similar and keeping it to myself because I don’t know who to talk to. It’s nice that people are able to relate.
You open up about how your Adderall addiction and how it negatively impacted your life. I’ve been seeing responses from fans about how proud they are that you’re opening up about it. I appreciate that because it feels like an ignored addiction.
Craig Conover: That’s a great way to put it — ignored addiction — because people just don’t think you can be hooked on that. We don’t think of it that way. Also, it’s like such an awesome drug for a certain thing that when you get to the point where you’re not taking tests anymore, and you’ve been on it so long, it starts to lead to depression and irritability and whatever it may be. Honestly, one of my motivating factors to write this book was I had a couple of actual famous people and a couple very high up and good at what they do people reach out to me. The first time I talked about it was on the season 6 reunion of Southern Charm. They were like, “I saw you on there. I’ve never told anyone this, but it’s affecting my marriage. It’s affecting my relationship with my kids, and I’ve never put two and two together. I don’t know how to get through the day without taking it.” People just don’t talk about it and if they are it’s a doctor or therapist. Now that I’ve been clean for three years, there isn’t any shame left. It’s more that my story can help others. That’s kind of my repentance and my punishment to myself, I guess it’s just having to face the facts.
I think I truly became a Craig stan in season 5 with the “what’s wrong with my sewing?” line. So many people rallied behind you after that. That line has singlehandedly changed your life and taken on a life of its own. Do you ever look back and think that’s the moment when things started to change. I feel like when I think of Craig on Southern Charm, I think of that moment.
Craig Conover: I didn’t realize how impactful that moment was until a little while ago, but it was really when I just hit one of my bottoms of just being like: what is the problem? What is wrong with my sewing? Because so many people had an issue with it. I really believe that people that are unafraid and just step out of gender norms or do something that others don’t feel comfortable doing, I think it’s a really attractive charisma. I think it shows a lot of confidence and people in my life during that time couldn’t see it. It was one thing for my partner to get mad about it, which I never understood, but then my friends on the show had such an issue with me trying to start this company. I didn’t see it at that moment when I was like, “What’s wrong with my sewing?” Because it was just a good example of people being haters, and that’s why I talk in my book, a lot of times you’ll be the only person where your idea’s a good idea. Your co-workers are telling you spending time on the side job is stupid or your friend, but that’s not a bad sign. You could be onto something, and you might be striking some sort of jealousy. Hopefully, your partner is supportive and your parents. If you watch back those years of Southern Charm, that event in my house the one year when I got a little sloppy, and I think no one really knew what was going on, but you hear Shep [Rose] and Cameran [Wimberly] and someone else sitting around being like, “How stupid can you be to think you’re going to retire on old pillow money?” These people really took an issue with it, so I think that’s when people started to root for me with at least the pillows, and that’s why the store is so great because I get to share it with everyone. The stores are so fun to meet people when they’re like, “I always believed that you can do it.” It’s something fun to share with them.
Speaking of Sewing Down South, what are your next steps with the company?
Craig Conover: We’re really excited. We’ve been testing and creating the last few months and we’re launching a bedding line this summer, so we’re going to get into linens and duvets and actual sleeping pillows. I think that will be a massive turn in a new direction for us. The more successful we get with the products we have now, I have two awesome partners, Amanda [Latifi] and Jerry [Casselano], they’re basically like family. My goal was always to have the next Williams & Sonoma and build Sewing Down South to where everyone wants us in every room in their house, and that’s been the overwhelming response. That’s going to be a huge step for us and a whole new challenge, but I’m definitely excited about that. We just launched our spring collection two days ago. April 1 is our anniversary because we launched on April 1 four years ago as a joke and a middle finger. Everyone thought the company was a joke. We’ve got a whole outdoor collection and an additional outdoor collection coming this spring. It’s really fun.
It’s been over a year since Southern Charm season 7 aired? What’s the status of season 8?
Craig Conover: It’s wild how much of a gap it always is with our season. The show’s filmed, and it’s going to be one of our craziest seasons ever. I’m really excited for people to see it. I don’t know if I’ll be saying it while it’s on, but right now I’m really excited for people to see it. You have all of the variables back and a lot of new things. You’ll see me and Paige’s relationship a lot which is awesome. Some things happen that there’s just no way you would ever be able to make them up. How does something crazy always happen in Charleston? I think it’s going to be a fun ride. It’s definitely our longest season ever. We’re not that far away, actually, so it should be announced sometime here soon. It’ll be fun for everyone to catch up in Charleston. It’ll be the first time that the company is actually filmed. The show really didn’t focus on it too much, and then we had COVID so you get to see the store on the show this year. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
You mentioned that Paige will be on Southern Charm. You discussed in. your book that Naomie was brought into the world of Southern Charm through your relationship. Is it easier for you to have a relationship with someone who is very much used to that environment and used to being in front of the camera?
Craig Conover: I mean, it’s amazing. It really is. It’s the first time that either of us is dating someone in the business. It just changes so much because there are a lot of things to be excited about that people just wouldn’t understand if they weren’t in it. But there’s a lot of negative that comes with this business, too. It takes such a toll on your psyche, but again, you can’t really complain to your normal friends because there are a lot of pros that come with it, too. When you’re dating someone that just gets it, you don’t have to worry about them being on camera. You don’t have to protect them. Paige is her own being, and she crushed it. I was actually really happy to show the world because we really thought you were going to get to see me and Paige together on Summer House, but they decided to go in a different direction. They had our first date on camera and didn’t air it. I think hopefully Southern Charm chooses to show me and Paige’s relationship. I don’t understand why these shows sometimes don’t like the positivity and the smiles, but hopefully, on Southern Charm you’ll get to see Paige and my parents together, me and Paige being cute together.