Creative Minds – Meet Carmel and Terrell of catstudio

Sep 7 2016

by Whitney Long

In this series on The Southern C, readers get to “meet” many of the interesting and creative entrepreneurs we know online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits.  These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity.  Take a peek into their day to day life, find out what they are working on, discover their “a-ha” moment and gain insight into what motivates and inspires their work and lives.

The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions.  We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region.  According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious”, and we are happy at The Southern C to do our part in sharing the creativity!

photo Chanterelle Photography

This week, I’m excited to introduce our readers to the the creative and curious minds behind a favorite TSC brand, catstudio.  Founders Terrell and Carmel have a witty banner and whimsical product line to match their personalities.  After impressive and most interesting stints in the clothing industry and television, this #powerpair eventually put their mutual love of travel onto cloth in the form of hand embroidered maps.  Not just any maps but breathtaking, extraordinary works of art taking the form of decorative colorful pillows.

After launching this pet project, pillows that mimic vintage souvenir pillows from the 30’s and 40’s, they successfully moved into the home furnishings and giftware markets where the catstudio and geography collection were born.  From pillows to drinking glasses, to dish towels and aprons, their geography collections encompasses all 50 states plus many cities, regions, resorts, national parks and countries… quite an impressive line-up!

Editor’s note:  I have been conducting Q&A’s for quite some time, and this is truly one of my favorites.  Maybe it’s they fact that they have been married 30 years, but the banter and love that comes across in their answers makes for a great read…

Terrell and Carmel of catstudio

Describe your brand/business:

catstudio is a unique design company that creates original geographical artwork with a bit of humor and nostalgia mixed into each handcrafted piece. We have the Atlanta Olympics to thank for our inspiration in creating our first two designs: Georgia and Atlanta through our apparel company, Swan Magic. In 2000, catstudio was born becoming its own brand. We started with only 10 designs (NYC, America, CA, TX to name a few) and now we have over 200 designs– all 50 states, cities, regions, International, and even the North Pole! And, after years of drawing the world, we decided to “Go Back to School” launching our Collegiate Collection, which embodies the spirit of some our country’s most beloved schools.

Our biggest hope is that our products bring joy, evoke beautiful memories, and cause a stir in your inner being for adventure and discovery. From our hand-embroidered pillows (yes, hand embroidered) to our amazing drinking glasses and dishtowels, you will find touches of hand craftsmanship in each piece. Because in our world, we believe that the human touch is the magical thread between designer, maker, seller, and buyer – and this is what gives our products their superior quality.


Such a unique name – what’s the story behind that?

“cat” is an acronym for “carmel and terrell” – our names. We went through a slew of options, but in the end, we thought simpler was better. And, it’s funny since we’re both really dog people.


What did you want to be when you grew up and how has your background influenced your work?

Carmel: I wanted to be a ballerina/artist/anthropologist/fashion designer.

Terrell: I  wanted to be an explorer/lawyer/anthropologist/set designer. Thankfully all of these interests help carve out how we see the world and the art that’s inspired from it.


Favorite business tool(s)?

Books, books, books and Wikipedia of course. God Bless Wikipedia.


(photo courtesy of Two Friends)

 Where do you find inspiration?

Before either of us could walk, we began traveling the world with our families. Real. Life. Travel. And, we haven’t stopped since.


The rare day off  –  what do you do to unwind?

Our “nothing to do” day would start off with us sitting at the dining room table for a very late and leisurely breakfast, reading the NY Times. Also, Terrell gets lost in creating oversized, hand drawn, colored postcards for friends. Who doesn’t love a bit of cheer?


 Best business advice or motivational quote?

Walk the talk- it’s the only way to get anything done. Always follow your gut. Don’t be afraid of failure- just fail fast, fail often and something good will follow. Share – we all have something to learn from each other.


Advice to your 16 year old self?

Carmel:  Be true to yourself.

Terrell:  Always be kind to others.


Fast and Furious – Fun Questions:


Carmel: The Trilogy Lord of the Rings totally immersed me within its covers.

Terrell:  Autobiography of a Yogi and presently the Tibetan Peach Pie”by Tom Robbins


Carmel: I’ve seen it literally a hundred times, but it still remains my fave – “Auntie Mame” with Rosalyn Russell and a close second is “Big Night”. Sharing a similar theme – living life to its fullest.

Terrell:  “Night on Earth” – it’s five short stories involving taxi rides in different cities around the world. It’s so funny, intelligent and a bit crazy at times. Also “Cinema Paradiso”- an Italian filmmaker recalls his childhood and the beginning of his love affair with the movies.


Carmel: Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”

Terrell: John Lennon’s “Imagine”


Carmel: Chocolate Malted with real powdered Malt.

Terrell: Vanilla Malted with double extra real powdered Malt.


Carmel: Staying in PJ’s all day long. Cashmere.

Terrell: Drawing, coloring and music with a nightcap of old movies – usually TCM.

What talent would you most like to have?

Carmel:  To accompany myself on any instrument while singing on key.

Terrell: Thousands Of Them

What is your favorite occupation?

Carmel: Telling Terrell what to do.

Terrell: Drawing & Painting while listening to Music on shuffle & sometimes Carmel.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Carmel: Anything embroidered, especially by Hand.

Terrell: Books!

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Carmel:  Minnie Mouse

Terrell: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King

What is your most marked characteristic?

Carmel:  Being able to keep a secret.

Terrell:  Appreciation of Others.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?

Carmel: A flamenco dancing heiress saint.

Terrell: Steph Curry

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Carmel: Being happily married for 30 years!

Terrell: Figuring out how to send a group text.

When and where were you happiest?

Carmel: Here and Now.

Terrell: Now and Here.

We are super excited to announce that in anticipation of the 2017 Southern C Summit on Sea Island, catstudio will be debuting their newest design  featuring our lovely Golden Isles!  Be sure to check next week’s newsletter for more on how you can participate in the design process… it’s going to be fun and fabulous!

     *For a peek into the world of catstudio, watch this video that was created for the AmericasMart ICON Honors Awards 2014,  where catstudio received the Medal of Excellence Award*

Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors.

This Q&A series  offers her the perfect opportunity to do so! 

For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below:

Chris Hutcheson and Christie Shepard

Lark Champion

Caroline Lytle

Mollie Creason

Megan Proctor

Stephanie Duttenhaver and Cindy Edwards

Elizabeth Adams

Michelle Blue

Danielle Mason Hosker

Emmie Howard

107 Market Street

Cathie Parmelee

Lauren Lail

Gunner and Lux

Katherine Sandoz

Deane Hebert

Katherine Frankstone

Caroline Reehl Boykin

Vaughn Dorrian

Emily Stroud

Jordan Jarvis Hughes

Heather Lancaster

Suzanne LeRoux

Sarah Schell Swinson

Julianne Taylor

Whitney Herndon

Barbara Cobb 

Andrea Gray Harper

Emily Bargeron

Katherine Mullins McDonald

Erin Gregory

Harrison Blackford

Amy Kinslow

Twine & Twig

Meredith Anne Sutton



Whitney Long View More Blog Posts from this Author

Whitney Long is co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit. Mama x 4, wife x 1. Entrepreneur, thinker, doer, writer, researcher, believer. Enjoys working alongside creative entrepreneurs to build community while supporting established and upcoming brands. Hobbies include travel, reading, bike rides and clever craft cocktails.

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One response on “Creative Minds – Meet Carmel and Terrell of catstudio

  1. Cyndi Crabtree

    Hi! First of all, love this site! I would love to contact the Swans to see if they offer patterns for their collegiate pillows (I’d love to make one for my son’s graduation gift). Do you know how I might contact them, or if you could pass my info along to them and they could contact me at their convenience. Thank you so very much!

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