Successful business owner and philanthropist Leigh Goodwyn is known for her athletic ability, energy and enthusiasm. Those traits will all be on display April 29 when she competes in the annual Dancing With The Stars of Charlotte For The Pink House fundraiser at McGlohon Theater uptown.
"I am thrilled with the challenge and hope in a small way I can make a difference in the life of a breast cancer survivor," Leigh says. "We have all been touched by breast cancer in some way whether it’s a family member or friend, this disease affects us all."
Leigh and her dance partner, Felipe Gonzalez Edmiston, are among the 13 dance duos who will showcase their fancy footwork in hopes of taking home the mirror ball trophy and raising the most money for the nonprofit during the event that is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Teresa Flippo-Morton. Tickets to the main event sold out quickly, but there are still a few tickets left to the 2 p.m. dress rehearsal and donations are being accepted throughout April. To make a donation, click here.
Leigh, a native of Gastonia, spent two decades in global marketing and advertising sales for major television networks including Turner Broadcasting and Discovery Networks before moving to Charlotte. She became vice president of marketing for Discovery Place natural history museum and also took on numerous volunteer leadership positions including serving on the board of directors for the or Women’s Impact Fund, Girls on the Run, Levine Museum of the New South and the Mint Museum Auxiliary.
In 2013 she launched LeighDeux, a web-based dorm and home décor company she co-founded with her friend and business partner, Leigh-ann Sprock. Their gorgeous and sophisticated creations - all manufactured and designed in the Carolinas - have been a hit with shoppers of all ages and have garnered national attention including a recent mention in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
Along with being loyal to the textile industry in the Carolinas, she's also devoted to her alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and was a cheerleader. Leigh and Leigh-ann wanted to have a successful business that also makes a difference, so they fund a scholarship for young women through UNC's Minor in Entrepreneurship program.
Leigh is also part of the university's Board of Visitors and with her husband, Bill, recently expanded the school's advertising and public relations reach in its School of Media and Journalism with a $1 million gift to creat the "Workroom: Fashion Mash" program. It offers fashion-specific courses, internship programs and travel experiences for students interested in fashion.
Leigh took time from her busy life and her dance rehearsal schedule to answer The O Report's questions including revealing her biggest style influence, her favorite famous person she's met and the one thing about herself that would surprise others.
Where are your favorite places to travel?
I can never get enough of Paris! But our family also loves to ski. We go out West every year...Vail, Beaver Creek, Telluride. I was recently in Big Sky. My favorite tropical destination is Turks and Caicos. In terms of more local destinations, we have a home on Kiawah Island, so that is truly my happy place.
What are you looking forward to wearing in the spring?
Ruffles, lace and the asymmetrical tops and skirts I’ve seen on the runway. There is so much femininity in the designs this spring. It’s very romantic.
What are your must-have beauty products?
I use SkinMedica and Le Mer products mostly for skincare. I also use Le Metier Replenishing Cream and Ultimate Hydrator, as well as their color cosmetics. I am a fan of Chanel mascara and Benefit's "They're Real!" mascara. Keratin shampoo is a must. I have crazy frizzy curls otherwise.
How would you describe your personal style?
I tend to wear trendier pieces. I love a great fit and flare dress or a great wide leg denim with a heel. I do a lot of sleeveless tops. I don’t wear a ton of skinny jeans in the spring/summer. But I like them with riding boots in the winter. Like everyone, I do love white jeans in summer, or really anytime.
What are some of your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
Vests! I tend to layer a vest over a great blouse or top. My favorite in the past few seasons is an amazing laser cut leather vest by Worth. It works well in every season.
What are your favorite fashion labels?
On the high side, I love Azzedine Alaïa, Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta. For more mid-market, my new favorite is Self-Portrait. Low end? Zara! I wear a lot of Derek Lam, Helmut Lang, Rag & Bone, and Rebecca Taylor. I find great dresses and skirts at BCBG and they carry a lot of petite clothes which is helpful since I'm 5’3". I shop the Cusp department at Neiman Marcus on a regular basis. I mix high and low all the time.
Who's your biggest style influence?
My daughter, Carson. She is my go-to for the latest trends. She has this inherent talent for putting pieces together that you may not consider…. and it always works! I also love Kelly Ripa’s style. Her choices are very much in line with mine and we are a similar size. I actually watch her videos from her dressing room to find out which labels she’s wearing on Live with Kelly. I met Kelly a few years back. The Live show was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame the same night as my husband, Bill. Carson and I got to meet her that night and we talked about our similar wardrobes!
Do you have a uniform?
I’ll be honest, I spend a ton of time in yoga pants. So much so, my dance instructor calls me Lulu! But if I'm not in athleisure wear, I love a great jean with a wedge heel and a fun sleeveless blouse. I wear my Hermes ‘H’ belt much of the time with jeans. I wear a lot of Frame, Seven and AG jeans. I spend way too much money on jeans!
What's your favorite restaurant for a big night out?
I don’t know that we have big nights out anymore, but we love Kid Cashew and RuRu’s which are owned by my business partner’s husband, Martin Sprock. A staple in our neighborhood is Stagioni. Other favorites are Basil, O-Ku, Upstream, Toscana and Barrington's.
What’s your favorite brunch spot?
I’m not a big bruncher. I like to exercise on Sunday afternoons, and brunch pretty much kills that!
What’s your favorite restaurant for lunch?
When I have time, I love Kid Cashew, Nolan Kitchen or the restaurant at Nordstrom. Most days though, I grab something from Laurel Market.
Any recent art purchases?
My last purchase was a pastel abstract from one of my best friends, Laura Park. I love buying art form friends! There are so many talented artists here in Charlotte. We are so lucky to have such a vibrant arts community. For my next investment, I would really like to have a Hunt Slonem bunny painting. Allison Sprock Fine Art has some incredible pieces by Hunt Slonem.
What's your favorite hotel in the world?
That is tough one - we travel a lot. It’s a passion my entire family shares. The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong may be my all-time favorite. The views of the harbor are extraordinary. The most interesting hotel I have stayed in is far and away Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s an English manor house with giraffes and warthogs roaming free on the property. The giraffes will stick their heads in the second story windows and will eat out of your hands…or mouth! The warthogs will snort at you. It’s hilarious.
What's your favorite flower?
Any museum exhibits or arts performances you’ve either seen recently, or plan to see soon?
I wish! I’ve been swamped - I’m dancing in all my free time. I would love to see Hamilton, though.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Dirty Dancing may be my favorite, followed by Love Actually, Steel Magnolias, Top Gun, Shawshank Redemption, Legends of the Fall, Gladiator and Last of the Mohicans. La La Land was pretty fabulous. I also love spy movies. I'm a huge fan of James Bond films and The Bourne Series.
What are some of your favorite books?
Growing up I loved all Clyde Edgerton's books. I like Southern novels.
What are your favorite sunglasses?
An aviator style looks best on my face. Right now I’ve been wearing a classic Ray-Ban aviator.
Anything you've worn and regretted?
Stirrup pants! Not a good look on me, or anyone for that matter. And shoulder pads.
Anything you'll never wear?
I think my mini skirt days are behind me.
What's the biggest mistake people make when hosting a party?
Not hiring a bartender.
What's your favorite host/hostess gift to bring to a party?
A beautiful candle or a table accessory. B.D. Jeffries has some of the best hostess gifts in town. Hand lotion by Aerin Lauder or India Hicks is really lovely, too.
Who's your favorite famous person you've met?
Oprah! I have met her several times actually. I’ve even been to the New Year’s Eve party she hosted at Soho House a few years ago. There were only 40 people there, really intimate. My husband works with Oprah. Discovery Networks owns 50 percent of OWN so he handled all the distribution deals for her network. Once he completed all the deals she sent us wine from her vineyard and several bottles of her favorite tequila called Casa Dragones. It’s a sipping tequila.
What inspires you?
Girl Power and women who lead with a grateful heart. I’ve been inspired by so many strong women in this community doing great things. The philanthropic community here is above and beyond - giving back is so important. When Leigh-ann and I launched our company, we decided we also wanted to make a difference. So a percentage of every sale we makes funds scholarships for women entrepreneurs. We partnered with UNC Chapel Hill to develop our scholarship fund and every year we select two deserving young women who are developing a business.
What would others be surprised to know about you?
I was a huge tomboy growing up. I had this short boy hair cut forever and I went hunting with my dad. We spent a lot of time in the woods and also collected Indian artifacts. My father has an impressive collection.
What’s your design style?
A mix of modern and traditional. I love color so there are pops of color throughout my house. I am drawn to modern lines but still cherish a stately antique, so I just combine them. There’s no rule that you have to have one or the other. I’m a Gemini and my home is definitely a reflection of two personalities - the daring and the conservative.
What would you like to bring back in style?
I’m old-school when it comes to invitations. I still prefer a printed invitation on a great card stock. I’m an Arzberger Stationers girl! I like to hold something in my hand. I’m really over the Paperless Posts and electronic invites.
What does every room need?
Something that speaks to your personal style. Whether it’s color, art, accessories you picked up traveling or family photos arranged in an artful way.
Which rules do you suggest breaking?
That you always have to entertain in your main living spaces. Recently I went to a 50th birthday gathering. It was the best party. They had the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the master bedroom! The bartender was stationed in the master bath and the bathtub was filled with ice and dozens of bottles champagne sticking out. So creative.
What do you like to do in your downtime?
What downtime? Launching a start-up four years ago leaves with me with very little downtime. But I would probably say hitting a yoga class or catching up on a Netflix or Amazon series. Lately I’ve been binge-watching The Americans.
How do you like to get your day started?
With several extra large cups of coffee. I make a giant pot every morning. The individual Krups cups don’t cut it! And I have to have my nonfat vanilla creamer. Then I dig into my emails and check orders that have come in overnight from the West Coast. I usually work out right after that unless I have an early meeting.
What’s in your glass during Happy Hour?
That depends on the season. In summer, I would say a great glass of rosé or a skinny margarita. All other seasons I love a Tito's and soda with a splash of cranberry and two limes. I love craft cocktails if someone will make them for me, but I’m lazy about that. My good friend Jane Eudy makes the most incredible craft cocktails.
What’s on your Playlist?
I’m too busy to make one. I just listen to Sirius in my car. I love the '80s channel, the Groove and the Studio 54 channels. But I do love the new Ed Sheeran song Shape of You.
Any words of wisdom?
I worked for Ted Turner straight out of college at CNN. Ted always said, “Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise." Now that I co-own a bedding company, you would not believe how often I think about that!
Is there anything you loved as a child that still influences you today?
The North and South Carolina coasts. Their beauty and tranquility can still take my breath away. The beaches make for a great muse.
What are your favorite colors?
I love aqua, teal, shades of blue.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Return every phone call and email. You never know where a casual conversation can lead.
How do you stay in shape?
I’ve been a runner for years, but I’m also an avid yogi. I alternate between running, yoga and my home gym. I spin, do elliptical cross training and weights. And now…ballroom dancing! I’m kind of a freak about exercising. I have to do something every day or I get terribly cranky.
How do you protect your skin from the sun?
I wear a dual finish powder that includes an SPF 20. In the summer I have to wear something that won’t sweat off and burn my eyes so I like the dual finish powder from Chanel. It stays on in a hot yoga class or through three sets of tennis.
What brings you joy?
Traveling with my family, watching my kids perform in a play or on the sports field. I also find great joy in skiing. I feel best when I am outdoors. I also love seeing the sales come in on our website www.leighdeux.com. That always brings me joy!
What’s one of the best beauty tips you’ve learned?
Contouring! I love the contour products on the market today. They create instant cheekbones. And also not sleeping on my stomach. If you can fall asleep on your back, your face will look less puffy in the morning and you won’t wake up with sheet prints on your cheeks.
What do you love about this stage of your life?
The confidence that comes with age. I don’t second guess myself as much anymore. I make a decision and don’t look back.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
Intermix online, Sloane, Capitol and Poole Shop, Saks, Neiman Marcus, Zara, BCBG and Calypso.
Was there any beauty or style advice your mother or grandmother gave you that you’re thankful for now?
My mother told me that if you sleep on a silk pillow, you will wake up with less messy hair. She gave me the softest silk pillow case as a child. I slept on it for years. I still have it today and I tell you, it works.
What’s your must treasured article of clothing?
I have two very special mink coats that were handed down to me - one from my mother and one from my mother-in-law. Both are from the late 1960s. The white mink from my mother-in-law was purchased by my father-in-law on a military trip to the Far East. He was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force. On the way back from a mission they lost an engine and were ordered to eject from the plane and bail out. But my father-in-law did not want to lose that coat! He defied orders and flew back on a single engine because he did not want that coat going down in the South China Sea. He used to call it the mink that saved his life.
What’s your most treasured accessory?
My gold charm bracelet. It was started for me by my parents when I was in junior high school and includes some of the most incredible custom charms, as well as charms I collected from my travels over the years. I even have a charm of the Taj Mahal that I bought in Agra, India. It’s amazing.
What’s your most treasured home decor item?
I love my dining room chandelier. It’s the Niermann Weeks Lille Chandelier. It’s an Art Deco style with these fabulous glass feathers. I also love my collection of family Christmas cards which I have framed every year since 1997 and they hang in our hallway upstairs.
Do you have a great organizational or timesaving tip?
I’m really not very organized. I’m all over the place! It drives my husband crazy. I’m really trying to go digital. I’m trying to make more lists on my phone rather than on 40 different notepads that I later lose.
What was one of the defining moments in your life?
Buying and decorating my first house in Atlanta in the early 1990’s. I really felt like an adult and it was at that moment that I knew I really loved interior design.
What is the secret to your success?
I think it’s my energy, staying positive and entering every challenge with enthusiasm.