Angie Harmon and Leigh Goodwyn partner on a bold new dorm-decor collection for LeighDeux.
By Cathy Martin | Photographs by Olly Yung
Styling + Production: Whitley Adkins | Hair & makeup: Josiah Reed
Photography Assistant: Victoria Pinson | Styling Assistant: Isabelle Pringle
Charlottean Leigh Goodwyn got the idea for a dorm-decor business in 2012, after her daughter, Carson, went off to boarding school in Virginia.
“She had difficulty finding really cool dorm decor in the extra-long twin size,” Goodwyn says. “At that point, there weren’t many companies focusing on the dorm as a dedicated space. So we just made some things for her room. … I drew a little picture of a headboard, and I took it to an interior-design workroom.”
When other parents saw the result — a pink, monogrammed headboard pillow with white piping — they asked where they could get others like it.
“I said, ‘Well, I just had it made, but I can get one made for you, too,’” says Goodwyn, whose daughter recently graduated from UNC Chapel Hill. (Her son, Gray, is a rising junior at UNC). Before long, parents started asking if she could get them other dorm accessories.
Goodwyn asked an entrepreneurial friend, Leigh-Ann Sprock, to help her launch the business, and LeighDeux was born. When Sprock bowed out after three years, Goodwyn bought her share of the company.
A chance meeting last fall with actor Angie Harmon led to a colorful, slightly edgy skull-themed collection that launched last month. Harmon, who has three daughters from age 8 to 15, moved to Charlotte a decade ago after visiting family friends Jimmie and Chandra Johnson.
“It reminded me of what Dallas used to be like when I was growing up there,” says the Texas native best known for her roles on TV’s Law & Order and Rizzoli & Isles. “It seemed like such a beautiful place to raise kids, and obviously it’s just gorgeous — it’s got that small-town vibe, but it’s still a sort of bustling metropolis.”
SouthPark spoke with Goodwyn and Harmon about the new collection, raising daughters to be self-reliant, and dorm decor’s evolution from milk crates and matching duvets to chic camo poufs, faux-fur pillows and velvet headboards.
Comments have been edited for length and clarity.
How did this collaboration come together?
Leigh Goodwyn: We didn’t know each other well, but we had a ton of mutual friends. Angie and I saw each other at a book-signing event at Tabor and SOCO Gallery one day in the fall. I said we should do something together sometime. Then we met for coffee and started talking.
I also have a track record over the last five years of doing collaborations with Charlotte artists and designers, all women. I loved the idea that Angie has this great affinity for skulls, and that’s something that college girls love. We [at LeighDeux] had actually talked about a skull collection a couple of times, and we just had never rolled it out. It was very collaborative — we designed the whole thing together.
Angie Harmon: I’ve done products before, and I’ve always put the skull in it. I did a jewelry line called Red Earth [in 2015] that basically was helping African artisans and benefiting them and their families.
I think it’s so relevant now with what’s going on globally — what I’ve always loved about skulls is that, it doesn’t matter what color we are, what sex we are. … at the end of the day, we all look the same once you rip all this off. If you put nine skulls together, you can barely tell them apart. It just represents a really lovely camaraderie that exists without anybody being super-conscious of it.
Some people look at skulls as something scary, and they’ve just never represented that to me. It’s the common thread between all of us.
How do you develop styles that appeal to 18-year-olds?
LG: I actually do quite a bit of research, and I do a lot of social-media research. … A lot of girls think that they want a really neutral dorm room. They say, ‘Oh I want gray and white, or I want black and white.’ Then you get in the room, and the dorm room doesn’t look like your room at home — it doesn’t have good bones, it doesn’t have good molding and it has hideous furniture and concrete walls. I always say to the girls, you think that’s what you want. But really, if you put some more color in there, you’re going to like it so much more, and it’s going to be happy.
Your offer a broad range of designs on your website, LeighDeux.com.
LG: Because everything’s made in North Carolina, if we run out of something, we can print the fabric and remake all the collections very easily. We’ve never gone overseas to produce anything. Mostly, that stems from my own textile roots. I grew up in Gastonia, and my family was in the textile business. They made the machinery and parts for textile mills. After NAFTA in ’91, the whole textile world changed. It really was detrimental to the industry. A lot of people lost their livelihoods. So for me, I didn’t want to make anything overseas, because I felt like that would be a slap in the face to the history of the textile sector in this region, and that just really bothered me.
How do your experiences as an entrepreneur and successful model and actor influence how you raise your daughters?
LG: I’ve always had a career. I was in media and television for 20 years. My first job was at CNN in 1988 — I started the summer of the Democratic National Convention, and I worked in production. It sort of was like baptism by fire. It really was an amazing career, but I moved around — I worked in ad sales, and eventually international marketing.
I always tell my kids, especially Carson, you want to have your own thing. You want to be able to make your own money; you never know what’s gonna happen in life. You need to be able to have your own career and be successful on your own. That was the message I was always trying to send her.
AH: My girls didn’t know what I did for a living for a really, really long time. But they did know that I worked. I wanted them to see that I just didn’t want them to depend on a man at all. … It wasn’t just about buying things, it was more about having their own safety net and being their own safety net. … Not having to depend on anybody except themselves, which I also think creates a level of their own responsibility and their own purpose. And as daughters, you just want to give them absolutely every opportunity or chance in life that you can.
What did your college dorm room look like?
LG: I had a roommate that I knew going in. We had bunk beds, and I had the top bunk. We had cinder-block walls, and I cut pictures out of magazines that I liked and taped them all over the wall like a mural. Cannon Mills used to have an outlet up in Kannapolis, and we went there and we picked out our bedding together. We did have matching bedding, but it was the ’80s, and that’s what you did back then. We had milk crates as side tables and really tacky shelves that we made using milk crates and pieces of wood that my dad cut and painted for us. We had our little refrigerator in there, and that was about it.
AH: I went straight from Dallas to New York [to model], so there was no dorm for me. But I look back at what my friends had, and then I look at what Leigh’s created, and the wonderful, fun designs. I think what’s great about this collection is we didn’t want it to be frilly and girly without having a little bit of an edge. We wanted all different kinds of color combinations — not just a variety of pastels, we’ve also got bold, electric colors.
When Leigh said we should do something together, I jumped at it, just because it’s such a fun audience base, and it’s such a fun collection. Her track record speaks for itself, and when you see all of her patterns and her colors — if I was a girl going to college, I would want exactly that. SP