Custom made NFL tote bags drawing rave reviews for Memphis-area entrepreneur

FASHION STATEMENT --- Sharon Cole Sutton, owner of One Of A Kind Designs, began making custom made NFL tote bags days after the start of the regular season. Business has since been booming for the native Memphian, who has been with the Shelby County Sheriff Department for the past 23 years. (Photos by Otto Carnes III)

FASHION STATEMENT — Sharon Cole Sutton, owner of One Of A Kind Designs, began making custom made NFL tote bags days after the start of the regular season. Business has since been booming for the native Memphian, who has been with the Shelby County Sheriff Department for the past 23 years. (Photos by Otto Carnes III)

Sharon Cole Sutton was only trying to draw a funny reaction from her co-workers.

What she got, as a result, was a plethora of rave reviews that, to her credit, will last for some time.

Sutton, the owner of One Of A Kind Designs, began assembling custom made handbags featuring the logos of several NFL teams days after the start of the regular season. Fortunately for Sutton, her craftiness has paid dividends mightily in recent weeks. So much, in fact, that the longtime Shelby County Sheriff Department employee said she will likely bring along additional family members to help keep track of sales and distribute her designer handbags because a demand for her product has increased considerably in such brief time span.

Sutton, a native Memphian, designed her first handbag days after Week 1 of the NFL season had concluded. Now, it seems, she can barely find time to rest on her scheduled off days, in large part because a majority of time is spent filling orders, a trend Sutton describes as a “good problem,” or sorts.

“I’ve started something,” Sutton told MemphiSport. “When I started it before, it didn’t kick off how I wanted it to. So I did a lot of weddings. I was doing designs for weddings, wedding dresses, table dressings, cooking the food, you name it. I still do weddings.”

Now that Sutton has revisited the notion of designing NFL handbags, it’s safe to assume that scheduling weddings could be put on hold, at least until season’s end. That’s because her clear handbags have become undoubtedly her hottest-selling item, something Sutton doesn’t anticipate ending anytime soon.

“People are calling and getting on the Internet daily to order stuff,” Sutton said. “Sooner or later, I’m going to have to call in a family member to help out. To be honest, this is something I had recently start doing. And I went home one day and I told my son, I’m going to buy some fabric, make a sports bag, take it to work, and make somebody mad.”

As it turned out, Sutton’s handbags ultimately caught the attention of several of her co-workers, many of whom told others about her product. Roughly a month removed from having produced her first handbag, it seems Sutton can’t make her product fast enough for the number of orders she fields daily. Besides handbags, which range between $25 and $40, she also makes custom made NFL belts, which sells for $20. Her clear tote bags, she said, have especially become ideal for avid NFL fans who attend games regularly, primarily because league officials allow spectators to bring clear bags into stadiums.

Of the NFL’s 32 teams, she said customers mostly order Dallas Cowboy handbags, win, lose, or tie.

Sutton said her custom made hand bag business has been such a success in recent weeks, she barely finds time to rest on her scheduled off days from her daytime job.

Sutton said her custom made handbag business has been such a success in recent weeks, she barely finds time to rest on her scheduled off days from her daytime job.

“Everybody loves Dallas,” Sutton said.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos aren’t too far behind, according to Sutton’s son, Otto Carnes III, who handles sales for One Of A Kind Designs.

“The Steelers, for a while, were basically nonexistent,” said Carnes, alluding to Pittsburgh’s 0-4 record before Sunday’s 19-6 win at the New York Jets. “But since they got their little win, they’re (fans) coming out of the closet.”

Carnes, who set up his mother’s Facebook page, said her custom made tote bag business has increased so much in recent weeks that her friends list had soared from 27 at the start of the NFL season to well over 500 within a few hours. And, as early as last week, Carnes said he fielded emails from customers in other countries inquiring about the bags.

“They just don’t stop,” Carnes said of the numerous calls and emails he witnesses daily.

With Christmas looming, Sutton said she expects sales to continue to increase in the coming weeks.

“I’ve got plenty of orders for Christmas, but I’ve got to catch up with the back orders now,” Sutton said. “They will make great Christmas gifts.”

Now that the NBA season is looming, Sutton said plans to design tote bags featuring various teams are in the works. Currently, several NCAA team handbags are available, she said, with the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats being among the most popular sales. Also, Sutton said she’s considering honoring the requests of several retailers throughout the Mid-South who have contacted her about placing her custom made bags on display in their stores.

“The Lord moves in mysterious ways,” Sutton said with a smile. “It wasn’t something I planned. It just happened. I guess people love them so much because they’re obsessed with their team.”

Win, lose, or tie.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To order One Of A Kind Designs hangbags, call 901-489-1178 or email Sutton at: sewshell@bellsouth.net.

 Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

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