The start of the NFL training camps are less than one week away.
For Sharon Cole Sutton, that means she is about to encounter what will seem like an early Christmas season.
Owner of One Of A Kind Designs, Sutton is widely known throughout the Memphis for her custom made handbags featuring the logos of NFL teams as well as other pro sports and college programs. To her credit, her craftiness has paid dividends mightily within the past year.
Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
Among the reasons is that Sutton has increased her hand bag repertoire. Nowadays, the longtime Shelby County Sheriff Department employee routinely assembles lunch boxes and backpacks of various cartoon characters. SpongeBob, she said, has been arguably her top seller.
Aside from that, Sutton, much like last year, is preparing to engage in what will be an extremely busy time for her as the NFL season looms.
“I mean, it’s non-stop,” Sutton told MemphiSport on Tuesday. “I’m going to have to get someone to help. I have people come up all the time and ask, ‘Can I get, can I get, can I get?’”
Sutton, a native Memphian, designed her first handbag last September, 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 said. “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 appears that scheduling weddings has been put on hold, at least for the time being. That’s because her clear handbags have become undoubtedly her hottest-selling item, a trend 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 (people) to help out. To be honest, this is something I had recently started 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. Nearly one year 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 up, she also makes custom made NFL belts, which sells for about $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.
Sutton produces between 25-to-40 handbags per week.
Of the NFL’s 32 teams, she said customers mostly order Dallas Cowboy handbags, win, lose, or tie.
“Everybody loves Dallas,” Sutton said.
“They just don’t stop,” Carnes said of the numerous calls and emails he witnesses daily. “I have several people to call from overseas. And that’s why I say I’m going to get some help out, to help cut them and stitch them. One bag takes an hour to make and a lunchbox takes about two hours.”
Although Christmas is nearly five months away, Sutton expects sales to continue to increase considerably in the coming weeks, in large part because of the excitement football season creates. As for her countless requests from individuals overseas, she said she expects to honor such requests once she garners her trademark and establishes an online site where consumers can pay via the internet.
“It’s a blessing from God,” she said, adding that various retailers have began contacting her about her product.”
Having worked for the Sheriff Department for the past 24 years, Sutton plans to retire sometime next year so she can focus exclusively on her flourishing business.
“Whether these bags retire me or not, I’m retiring,” Sutton said. “I’ll be able to get a lot done. Christmas orders are already coming in.”
Blame that good problem on the NFL, which is about to raise the curtain on another season.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To order One Of A Kind Designs hangbags, call 901-489-1178 or email Sutton at: email@example.com.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.