CRAIG CONOVER is trying forward. The star of a number of exhibits within the Bravo multiverse, together with Southern Appeal and Winter Home, can also be making a reputation for himself as multi-hyphenate. He’s a house furnishings mogul along with his profitable enterprise Stitching Down South; and an writer, along with his debut memoir, Pillow Speak. Together with Bravo castmate Austen Kroll, he’s making his first foray into eating places with the upcoming Carriage Home in New York Metropolis’s West Village, and as podcasters of the favored Pillows And Beer, which additionally they took on tour.
After we converse, he’s sitting within the podcast room of the house he’s renovating in Charleston. Winter Home, a part of the interconnected Bravo universe that brings stars from varied exhibits collectively in snowy Vermont, has begun airing its second season; and Conover’s arguments on the present positioned his relationships along with his castmates, together with longtime girlfriend Paige DeSorbo, underneath elevated on-camera stress.
Though he cautions that what viewers see on TV and Instagram is only a snapshot of actual life, Conover opens up about challenges in his life and the way he meets them head-on. He spoke to Males’s Well being in regards to the life adjustments he’s making, the significance of believing in your personal concepts, and the way his enterprise crew was certainly one of his finest selections to take his desires to the subsequent degree.
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This interview has been condensed and edited for readability.
MH: You could have rather a lot occurring: the restaurant opening, your guide, a podcast, filming with Bravo, your corporation Stitching Down South. What’s subsequent?
CC: Our fast future is fairly thrilling. We fly to Portland subsequent week to launch in a number of Fred Meyer shops [for Sewing Down South]. Now we have an incredible relationship blooming with them. We’ve hit an unimaginable threshold; we’re solely a pair years outdated. The subsequent product we’ll do is sheets and bedding and sleeping pillows, in order that’ll be popping out early subsequent 12 months. We’ll do a line with Paige which is de facto thrilling; lastly a black-and-white line for our individuals that do not essentially have ‘Coastal Stylish’ homes or designs. The podcast goes nice and we’re hoping to return on tour quickly. Southern Appeal is at all times on the horizon.
Final evening we adorned [the Sewing Down South store] for the vacations. We have got seven or eight workers on medical health insurance now and we have twenty different workers. Seeing all these individuals actually helps me be like ‘you’ve gotten a lot extra to lose than simply you. There’s lots of people relying on you now,’ so I take that in stride. Generally it will get a little bit nerve wracking.
What does success seem like for you at this stage in your life and in enterprise?
The philanthropic facet has at all times been the purpose. We simply bought the paperwork again for the Craig Conover Basis. The one purpose I’ve ever needed to earn money is as a result of I get pleasure from giving it away. I simply get pleasure from serving to. I do know you’ll be able to assist with out being profitable however to me, the kind of assist that I need to do goes to require me to be in a financially sturdy place. Success to me is that if yearly we are able to broaden our philanthropic efforts.
What’s taking place with Bravo’s Winter Home proper now?
Winter Home goes to be an prolonged season this 12 months, which is nice. We had lots of enjoyable up there. However here is the factor, life is not so fairly on a regular basis. It has been a troublesome few weeks for me.
I hope that persons are affected person with it a little bit bit as a result of it is bought to be okay to get higher. Individuals are so fast to dismiss individuals in the event that they do one thing unsuitable, as a substitute of encourage them to develop. I feel exhibits like this may present you that folks would possibly do some issues that are not nice, otherwise you may not agree with, however we have hopefully are on this planet for a good period of time and it must be okay to get higher.
I am certain persons are asking ‘when’s it going to occur?’ However hopefully someday quickly. I look in that mirror and see that I ought to most likely make some adjustments in my life.
You’ve talked about altering your habits. What issues have you ever discovered actually useful in making massive life adjustments like that—taking a look at how your actions have been perceived and wanting to alter so it aligns along with your values?
I could not justify my habits anymore. I had at all times been capable of justify—and it sounds foolish—my ingesting or my habits as a result of it was ‘filming.’ I bought to a degree after we have been filming Winter Home the place I used to be like, ‘This is not the person who I need to be.’ I’m not the particular person on the skin that I really feel like I’m on the within. I ought to have made this realization in my 20s, however sadly, it did not occur ‘til I used to be 34. It is by no means too late. I used to be identical to, ‘Craig, you are not the person who you may be. You are not being your best self.’
Once I left Vermont, I decided to get in form and return to that wholesome individual that I used to be in my previous. I had an unimaginable coach right here in Charleston. That first week you are identical to, ‘I’ll by no means let myself get out of form once more.’ It is so robust to get again within the health club.
I modified my weight-reduction plan. I did not weight-reduction plan, I simply began to eat cleaner meals. Once you do go to the health club, it adjustments the whole lot. You do not need to have that tumbler of wine at evening, or that additional glass of wine, you do not need to eat ice cream or snack on buttered popcorn. A month glided by and I used to be simply happier and more healthy and abruptly my life modified.
I began to get wholesome once more, and what I did not anticipate from that’s that it leaked into my enterprise life. We’re opening a restaurant within the West Village and that would not have occurred if I wasn’t figuring out. It simply cleared my head a lot that it put me ready to take a chance.
I hated to see the place I might let my physique get, but it surely was actually simply my psychological [health]. I did not have anything apart from an unhealthy routine of ingesting and procrastinating. Actually what modified my life [was] simply waking up and assembly my pals on the health club and my coach. I’ve misplaced 20 kilos and [am] only a happier, happier particular person. Health can actually assist.
What sort of exercises do you do?
We’re doing solely weights and lifting. We did not actually do any cardio. Our cardio got here by way of being within the health club. I grew up a three-season-sport athlete and I at all times hated cardio, it doesn’t matter what. Even after I lifeguarded I hated swimming, I hated working. For me, the truth that it was lifting and I had somebody there telling me what to do made it a little bit extra enjoyable.
You stated you’ve got been making a concerted effort to eat cleaner. With the restaurant opening, what are some meals you actually get pleasure from? What do you suppose goes to be your favourite menu merchandise?
I did not notice the science behind consuming; the truth that should you eat a wholesome breakfast, you are going to have much less cravings later within the day, all type of easy stuff I ought to have identified. I reduce out carbs in my life; it labored for me. I began consuming lots of protein and greens. I am lucky that I like greens however responsible pleasures like French onion dip and chips; you have a tendency to chop that out after you begin figuring out a little bit bit.
Our restaurant goes to be a brand new tackle American classics: peanut butter and jelly and London Broil however Wagyu beef. It’s a extremely cool take. Jordan Andino is an unimaginable chef.
Who taught you to stitch?
Her title was Ms. Hurley, my residence ec instructor. I used to be in seventh grade. We spent half the 12 months cooking and half the 12 months stitching and I fell in love with what I have been informed now could be the artwork of creation. I did not begin stitching at residence at an early age however I did go residence and begin cooking. My mother was a college instructor and if she did not should cook dinner dinner, the rule was I may cook dinner no matter I needed, and so I simply dove type of headfirst into it. I really made a little bit cookbook in eighth grade; they nonetheless have the little Polaroid photos.
It wasn’t till I went by way of a breakup most likely 5 years in the past–I used to have a extremely massive backyard in my home and a workshop in my storage, and I needed to go away all that behind after I left. All I had with me was my stitching machine. I used to be like, ‘There’s bought to be one thing I bear in mind methods to make’—and it was a pillow. I tore aside button-downs that I wasn’t going to put on anymore for cloth and began to stitch.
The second that I turned the primary pillow I made proper facet out, I simply knew that it was a brand new ardour of mine. I fell in love with it.
How did you resolve to take that zeal and switch it into one thing you may share by way of a enterprise?
I spotted I had this big platform with Bravo. Now we have an unimaginable, unimaginable viewers and those who assist us. I might gone 5 years with out doing something with this; it used to eat me up alive, and actually, tomorrow’s the subsequent day of the remainder of your life. I needed to inform myself it wasn’t too late.
It was a Sunday afternoon. I posted an image with the pillows on the facet. I did not make it in regards to the pillows; I simply made it about like a lazy Sunday, however individuals may see my stitching machine, and the messages began to pour in. I simply knew it was distinctive sufficient and completely different sufficient to get into; there’s not lots of straight males in residence décor proper now. I can have a optimistic message with this. I simply thought it might be superior to share.
[Then] I used to be caught for a couple of 12 months and a half to 2 years. I might sew and stitch and stitch however I could not management my perfectionism, my OCD, and it was by no means ok to get out the door. Regardless that I had hundreds of individuals providing cash for my pillows, I simply would stockpile them in the home. It wasn’t till my two companions—they actually helped me get out of my very own manner.
What are among the classes you’ve got discovered in beginning up a enterprise?
For me, discovering a crew. The primary particular person on my crew was an assistant, however she was a lot extra; the phrase would not even credit score what she was.
I’ve actually unhealthy ADHD. I had by no means been informed about it and all I used to be yelled at about endlessly was procrastination. She was precisely the other. She was capable of do the stuff that used to emphasize me out. I introduced her on after which two companions, Jerry Casselano and Amanda Latifi. They have been consultants in what they did and so I bought to concentrate on creating and designing and Jerry did all of our operations and Amanda did our model technique. For me, discovering a crew is what helped, as a result of I needed to do the whole lot myself.
Nobody in my life—in any respect—thought that this was a good suggestion. I used to be the one particular person. Individuals ask ‘who believed in you?’ Nobody. I did.
Generally that is a frightening place to be, since you’re like ‘if this was a profitable or viable concept, somebody ought to have executed this by now.’ That is one factor that I hope individuals take from my story—simply because nobody thinks it is a good suggestion doesn’t suggest it is not a good suggestion. Clearly my mother and father have been supportive, however they someway ended up with a son in regulation faculty and actuality TV. They did not know the place I got here from, however my mother and father have been nice.
You have been bullied as a toddler. What helped you overcome that?
I’ve actually by no means been capable of totally analyze why the bullying occurred. I used to be small. I used to be little, I used to be athlete, and I used to be good. We have been too younger to know this, however possibly jealousy. I used to be so lucky to go residence. I’ve loving, supportive mother and father; my secure place was residence. I would not have made it if I did not have that.
Trying again, the youngsters on the bus—all they have been doing to me was what their dads did to them. I virtually had empathy for the bullies at the moment, which was actually complicated as a result of they have been inflicting me ache, however I knew they have been in a worse place. However my mother and father and my home is what saved me. It’s actually heartbreaking to think about some youngsters which are making an attempt to depart their residence which is a scary place, then get to highschool and should cope with bullying.
I used to be a black belt in Taekwondo and my one rule was that I could not struggle in school. I typically look again and I am glad I had that self-discipline. As a result of I did not struggle I developed a really sharp tongue, and it is one thing that I’ve labored on not utilizing. Having a pointy tongue was my weapon. Now, a part of my journey is studying why I get so triggered or why I get so annoyed in sure conditions and to not lash out. It’s loopy how lengthy bullying stays with you.
Is there another recommendation you’ve gotten for Males’s Well being readers?
There’s so many extra advantages that include bodily train than simply trying good. That’s what I’ve realized. Prior to now after I needed to get again into form it was for look causes or eager to look good on the seaside.
What I’ve present in my thirties is even simply getting exterior of the home and strolling or shifting—I did not know that I handled despair however I do. It is really easy to remain on the sofa and simply watch TV—I get it—however for me, simply getting out of the home and shifting and exercising, really is the reply for mine. Hopefully because the journey goes, I can share that a little bit extra.
For those that are nervous to go to the health club, I used to be, too. Individuals which are taking a look at you’re really taking a look at you with encouragement. Nobody goes to see you stroll within the health club and have a detrimental considered that.
Kate Lewis bought her begin as a celeb publicist in Los Angeles, then pivoted to writing. She is now an essayist and journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Instances, The Washington Publish, and elsewhere. She is engaged on a memoir.