Your Neighbor: Meet Fara O’Byrne
By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier
Fara O’Byrne and her family moved to Windsor, North Carolina, when she was just 13. Like most kids at that age, she was none too thrilled to leave behind her friends where she hailed in upstate New York. “I’m still close with my childhood friends from New York. We would write letters when we first moved. It helped with the initial transition,” mentions O’Byrne.
O’Byrne and their family found North Carolina to be home because of her parents’ careers in the furniture industry. As the oldest of three kids, O’Byrne noticed what it took to run the family business at a young age. “I went to college at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to study business. I realized quickly the lessons I was being taught in the classroom were nothing like what I needed in the real day to day of my parents’ furniture stores,” reflects O’Byrne. O’Byrne began running one of their three furniture stores around 19 years old. “Attending classes became more and more infrequent. I loved everything about running a 50,000 square furniture store by myself.”
O’Byrne also learned around that time that she saw a niche for costume jewelry.
At 22 years old, she noticed how she would find jewelry marked up at a local store in Wilmington, and wanted to provide affordable options but still not skimp on quality. “I ended up opening up a costume jewelry rental booth at three different locations — two malls in the Wilmington area and one in downtown. It was a lot of fun and did really well. It was only until places like Walmart and Belk started selling costume jewelry did it really fizzle out for me as a small business owner,” explains O’Byrne.
Around the same time that O’Byrne was growing her entrepreneurial roots, she met her future husband Josh when hanging out with friends. “I knew right away there was something special about him. We started dating after the night we met, and have been together ever since,” reflects O’Byrne. The O’Byrnes expanded their family with two little girls — Miller (7) and Merritt (5). “Before my girls I worked all of the time,” notes O’Byrne. “I’ve slowed down on working to partake in activities with them.”
Although, O’Byrne was working less at the family furniture store, she didn’t anticipate having to move hours away from it. “Josh got a job as a district manager at his work, and he was required to move within 30 minutes of Winston-Salem. We started researching and I realized I wanted my girls to attend Clemmons’ schools because they were so exceptional,” explains O’Byrne. The O’Byrnes embarked on their move and adventure to Clemmons four years ago. “It was really hard not being near my parents, but it’s been such a great experience here. We love the school system, our friends, we couldn’t be happier.”
O’Byrne didn’t completely give up her background in furniture and retail. Her father’s friend in Asheboro was looking for a manager at his store. “I am working there part time, so I’m still able to do things like the Parent Teacher’s Association at Clemmons Elementary School whenever I need to,” describes O’Byrne. The family is not afraid to shy away from lots of activities. “On the weekends we are up for any adventure. For the past two years, we have driven to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City and have had the best time. We’ve gotten up very early, but had front row seats every time. The girls never complained even though it was absolutely freezing,” reflects O’Byrne.
The mom of two young girls still takes time to hone her interests in other hobbies and passions. “I love decorating cakes for friends and family. I don’t enjoy the baking side of it, but the creating side of it really is thrilling. I’ve made wedding cakes, fairy cakes, you name it. I like making something artistic that actually tastes good too,” explains O’Byrne.
Between her part-time job, baking and decorating cakes for family and friends, spending time with her girls, O’Byrne adds one more hobby to her list. “I love collecting taxidermy. I love animals and have only purchased them from family members whose loved one has passed and was a previous collector. I’ve got a zebra and giraffe that are just gorgeous and special. I drove all the way to Michigan to get the giraffe from a family member who was selling it from a deceased loved one,” shares O’Byrne.
The family-oriented mom has spent her life honing her passions, taking on new challenges, and never fearing to open the other door when one closes.