The O Report wouldn’t exist without Sally Heffner Cogan. That's because she’s the mother of The O Report founder and publisher Olivia Fortson. Sally’s strong faith, business acumen, style, volunteerism and reputation as a wonderful hostess have always been an inspiration to her two daughters, Olivia and Coley.
A native of North Carolina, Sally grew up in Wadesboro where her mother owned a popular women’s clothing store. "My mother was my biggest style influence and she's why I love beautiful clothes," Sally says. "Starting when I was in third grade, she began taking me with her on buying trips to New York City."
Shortly after graduating from Greensboro College, Sally became a pioneering young business woman when she founded a timber company that's still going strong today. She also worked for Duke Energy and Clemson University before settling in Spartanburg, S.C., to raise her family. There she began what's now decades of volunteer work, especially in the arts. Volunteering is something she’s still passionate about. Sally recently rotated off the board of Ballet Spartanburg, for 20 years has had a route delivering for Mobile Meals and supports the Charles Lea Center for those with mental and physical disabilities. Spartanburg is a very social city, so she also entertains regularly as part of her involvement in three book clubs, a garden club, a lunch group and two supper clubs.
Sally jokes that just like Winston Churchill, her tastes are simple - she's easily satisfied by the best. And The O Report thinks she gave the best answers to our questions including her favorite hotel in the world, the wisest business advice she's ever received and the greatest thing about this stage of her life.
What are your must-have beauty products?
I use Lancôme skin care and makeup. I've recently started using a serum that I really like - SkinMedica HA5 serum.
What’s one of the best beauty tips you’ve learned?
Take care of your skin; stay out of the sun; and get a pedicure, manicure and facial once a month.
How would you describe your personal style?
What are your favorite fashion labels?
Prada for shoes, Nancy Gonzalez for handbags and Armani for coats.
Do you have a uniform?
In the winter, black pants with a cashmere crewneck sweater. In the summer, white pants and crisp tunic shirts.
What would you like to bring back in style?
Dresses with sleeves.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
It used to be Montaldo's in Charlotte. Now it's Saks Fifth Avenue.
Was there any style advice your mother gave you that you’re thankful for now?
Buy quality. For clothes, that starts with fine fabric.
What's your favorite hotel in the world?
Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi Coast in Ravello, Italy.
What are your favorite books?
I'm constantly reading new books, but my favorites are the Bible and reading plays by Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams.
What's the biggest mistake people make when hosting a party?
Not sweeping off the front walk and not being at the door to greet guests.
What's your favorite host/hostess gift to bring to a party?
Wine packaged with humorous cocktail napkins.
Who are some of your favorite famous people that you've met?
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, Kitty Carlisle Hart and Celeste Holm.
What inspires you?
What would others be surprised to know about you?
I am a deep thinker.
What’s your design style?
Mixing antiques with modern pieces.
What does every room need?
Things that make you happy.
What’s your most treasured home decor item?
The wicker furniture on my loggia from my childhood home.
Do you have a motto or words that you live by?
Enjoy and appreciate each day.
Which rules do you suggest breaking?
I am a big believer in going by the rules
How do you like to get your day started?
Going to the gym to walk on the treadmill, lift weights and do exercises for posture and balance. Afterward I eat breakfast, read the paper, read my Bible and read my daily devotional.
Is there anything you loved as a child that still influences you today?
I enjoyed playing house and I still do. I love my home.
What’s in your glass during Happy Hour?
Any words of wisdom?
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
My father told me to never sell my land.
What brings you joy?
Seeing positive results after completing a project. And being with my family and friends.
What do you love about this stage of your life?
Experiencing the confidence of having a life well-lived.
Do you have an organizational tip that makes your life run more smoothly?
Each day I make a list of the things that I need to accomplish. I am known as “The List Lady."
What was one of the defining moments in your life?
Being born into a family that taught me to love God, my family and my country while also having respect and compassion for everyone
What is the secret to your success?
Keep an open mind and keep moving forward.