How 'Southern Charm' star Craig Conover turned being 'bullied really badly' into a thriving pillow business (Exclusive)

Craig Conover made waves earlier this year when he launched his new "sewing lifestyle brand," Sewing Down South, and the "Southern Charm" star doesn't care if you think his latest venture isn't "cool" enough for you.

"I was bullied really badly growing up, so I had to self-validate at an early age," he told AOL's Gibson Johns during a recent interview. "I realized that there’s no 'cool board' or someone who votes on who’s cool, so you just have to say, 'I like myself.' You see your life start to change in how you carry yourself. I was able to handle all the criticism and that's why no one has ever affected my decisions with things. I don’t like to live with what if’s at all."

That struggle to accept his own interests is alluded to on the website for Sewing Down South, too, where Conover tells fans that he "was mocked for enjoying the art and craft of sewing."

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The 30-year-old reality star turned lifestyle expert pushed through any fear of being taunted for his interest in sewing to launch Sewing Down South, through which he plans on releasing no less than four new collections in the next year. While he's of course using that platform that he's cultivated through six seasons of his Bravo show, Conover has also been throwing so-called "pillow parties" to help drum up excitement for his still-new brand.

"Especially through the pillow parties, we’re building the Sewing Down South fanbase, which is cool," he explained to AOL. "I love the platform that Bravo gave me and, obviously, this is all possible because of that decision I made to join 10 years ago, but now the goal is to make it so that, if I didn’t have 'Southern Charm,' people would still buy the Sewing Down South stuff."

Speaking to AOL at the launch of Bluprint's new Premium annual subscription at the end of October, where he was introduced as "Sewing Down South founder" rather than "'Southern Charm' star," was something that indicated to Conover that he's moving in the right direction.

"Something I was proud of was that it was Craig Conover from Sewing Down South -- it’s always been from 'Southern Charm,'" he smiled. "I was like, 'Alright, this is cool.'"

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It's also new partnerships, like his own with Bluprint, that have given him the confidence to see where he can take his company in the future; it's also made him feel accepted by a whole new community beyond just fans of his popular Bravo show.

"I just recently became involved with Bluprint recently, but I wish I knew about it earlier because it’s a community for people to basically create together and share ideas and they reached out to me because I have this passion for creating, and I’ve been fortunate enough to turn it into a lifestyle brand," Conover explained. "There are so many things that I could’ve done better and that I still need to learn. It’ll be fun. This is a new world that I’m just getting into, because I did it by myself before, but it’s also a really cool community that’s embracing me with open arms."