President-elect Barack Obama has former Hilton Head Island resident Kaycee Binns in his pocket.
Not literally, of course, but he does carry one of her creations.
The small pewter pebble, with the word "luck" engraved on one side and repeated in Braille on the other, apparently is Obama's favorite lucky charm. That's what the
president-elect told a group of reporters on a plane before the release of the Dec. 29 issue of Time magazine. That issue features a photo of Obama holding a handful of trinkets, including Binns' signature charm.
Binns,41, who moved to Georgia after graduating from Hilton Head Island High School in 1985, knows the charm is hers because it has an "M" -- for Metal Morphosis, the name of her giftware company -- on it.
What she doesn't know is how it got into the hands of the soon-to-be 44th president.
She didn't even know Obama had the charm until she received a cavalier e-mail from one of her sales representatives on New Year's Day. He assumed she already knew.
When she asked what he was talking about, he replied, "You're in the 'Man of the Year' issue of Time."
Binns, a strong supporter of Obama, and her husbandbegan scouring the Internet and eventually found the taped interview in which Obama pulls the stone from his shirt pocket.
"We were stunned. You could see my logo on the front," she said. "We asked each other, 'is this for real?'"
Binns, who started her company in 1993 by selling hand-crafted baby spoons, uses only domestic materials. She designs all the company's creations -- among them keychains, candleholders and pebbles inscribed with inspirational words -- which then are hand-made in an Atlanta studio by the company's 13 employees.
"What's so amazing is that out of the millions of things I'm sure he'd been given on the campaign trail, this is the one he said is his favorite," she said. "I wonder if he knows it's an American-made product from a woman-owned company."
Her wares are sold at shops across the country and oversehe word stones were inspired by her grandfather, who carried pebbles from his native Scotland in his pocket.
Hilton Head, where Binns' parents live, has been an inspiration for some of her nautically themed creations, she said.
Her inspiration for the Braille stone, however, came from a man who struggled with alcoholism. The man's girlfriend gave him a bag of Binns' inspirational pebbles as he participated in the Alcoholics' Anonymous program. He wrote her an e-mail to say he keeps the stones in his pocket.
"He wrote, 'I don't just see the words now. I feel them,'" she said.
During his interview on the plane, Obama told reporters he didn't know the significance of the Braille.
Binns wonders who gave Obama the stone and what the context of the gift was.
"We'd love to know where he got it from," she said. "People do carry around little things that represent a place, a time, a memory. That stone is a little momento that you have that can bring you back to your memory."