Follow Us On:

‘The success of my struggle’

Posted on Wednesday, February 21, 2024 at 8:00 am

Calvin Cannon celebrates working creatively for 30 years


With February designated as Heart Month, many people are acknowledging heart health and honoring heart attack survivors.

Long-time Shelbyville resident Calvin Cannon is one of those survivors.

“I feel that I am blessed because I probably should have died three times,” Cannon told The Post. It was eight years ago when he suffered a heart attack. Cannon was 50 at the time.

“After that seven months is when I found out I had had a heart attack,” he said. He ended up having a quadruple bypass.

But despite the hardships – which also include the passing of his mother and brother several years ago as well as battling bouts of depression – Cannon has managed to become one of Shelbyville’s modern day Renaissance men.

He was the guest speaker at this month’s Shelbyville Woman’s Club where he shared all his projects and business endeavors — from interior design to antiques to men’s fashion.

“What kept me going? Well, I had to for one. All of my family growing up was my mother and my brother. So when my mother died, I pretty much considered myself an orphan. So I had to keep going,” said Cannon. “I didn’t grow up with much but with my creativity, I learned how to use things or make things.

“There’s a creative way to do things. I realized how I made all this happen was with my creativity.”

Cannon said his goal in life was never to become a world-famous interior designer, but a famous interior designer in his hometown of Shelbyville.

Cannon graduated from Shelbyville Central where he served as senior class president as well as played trumpet and French horn in band. He went on to study at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville where he took classes in architectural drafting.

“My real love is architecture,” Cannon said, who admires the clean lines of mid-century modern architecture like that of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Struggling through the mathematics part of architecture, Cannon switched his focus to interior design.

After working at Old Time Pottery in the floral department, he was first known in Shelbyville for his flower arrangements. He opened a shop in 1994 on North Main where he sold wallpaper and home accessories in addition to floral arrangements.

He even had one shop, Books and Book Ends, where he sold books in addition to interior designs. He also at one point opened up a teen hangout.

But he said space planning is his favorite part. He installs blinds and drapery, purchases furniture and places it—basically, he does all the shopping for you.

“One of my favorite things to do is to go shopping for people, see what their needs are, see the space and then buy the right furniture and accessories,” said Cannon.

Cannon also uses his spatial talents to work with the arts council on the building committee.  “I love historic uptown Shelbyville.”

Many may also be familiar with Cannon’s shop, Torso, on the historic Shelbyville square, where you can purchase suits or rent tuxedoes. Cannon also sells gently-used (reappraised) men’s shirts in addition to new ties and men’s white dress shirts.

He opened the men’s fashion store around 2012 after seeing the need for it in the area. Now, he hopes to soon turn the top portion of Torso into an Air BNB.

But when not designing or selling men’s fashion, Cannon also runs a vintage booth on the other side of the square at Yesterday’s Treasures.

“I just love the character and history that a piece shows. I love vintage stuff more so than antique again for the history and time period and materials they used,” said Cannon.

Cannon will be celebrating his 30th anniversary of being in Shelbyville on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 3 – 8 p.m. The event will be outside of Torso on South Main Street. They will have Prince’s Hot Chicken and some musical entertainment. Everyone is invited to attend.

It’s a celebration. Cannon explained, “This is important to me because I’ve made it.

“It’s been a struggle, but I’ve survived that struggle.”