It was her daughter’s request that landed this mom in her own business. Leigh Goodwyn worked in media for years and her last job was with the Discovery Channel working on the Eco-Challenge. But when she found herself in Morocco with a 2 year old at home, she had a meltdown. “What am I doing here? I have to get home to my child?” Leigh says this was her reality check.
Fast forward to when that child is going off to boarding school and can’t find cute bedding in the extra long twin size that dorms require. Leigh’s daughter said to her, “You should create a line of bedding for dorms.” Leigh thought about it and then did some research starting on line, “There were a few small companies doing dorm decor, but not at the level of quality I was looking for.” Some of Leigh’s family were entrepreneurs and had been in the textile business in North Carolina her entire life, but she had no real experience.
Leigh’s friend Leigh-ann Sprock also loved the idea and the two women joined forces to see what they could develop. “We started with local mills and attended textile trade shows to figure out how to get the fabric we needed in the patterns that we wanted. At one of the shows we learned about digital printing on cotton fabric.” The two Leighs explored the process where you can design the pattern, pre-treat the cotton, print on it and finish the fabric and in was all done in the Carolinas. “Staying local was really important to us and this was the most cost effective way to get the designs we wanted and at the same time we could support our home state mills.”
At this point the business idea was becoming a reality and the two Leighs could see a path forming, “We could design and print our own fabric and then have it sewn into the bedding items to sell.” Up until this moment it was only research and now was the time to invest some real capital. “We felt we had something that could be profitable so we went forward.”
Setting up an LLC the two first hired an artist for the design process. The name came from their names – two Leighs or in French, LeighDeux. “Our first order had to be a minimum of 5,000 yards. We found a mill that would work with us on printing 15 different designs.” It was hard to find mills to do smaller orders of printing and sewing but the two were persistent. Finally they had the first run of goods. Now they had to sell them.
“We started with a trunk show at friend’s house in Atlanta in late 2013. She invited other moms who had kids going off to boarding school and college.” The sales were well over their expectations and validated all their work and their new business. More trunk shows followed and in early 2014 they set up a website with ecommerce. Social media channels helped to market the product and they created an ambassador program with young women in school. “This program allows college and sorority girls to promote the product and get paid via a coupon code on the website.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. After a hugely successful trunk show with lots of orders to fulfill, the duo visited the sewing mill and discovered that nothing had been done. Their day trip turned in to a couple of nights as they begged and cajoled the head seamstress into working on the line. “We asked what we could do to help and she asked for beer and cigarettes. We delivered that and started working alongside the packagers to get the job done.”
Leigh says, “Over time we’ve developed great relationships with our mills. So many towns have been devastated when production goes overseas. We love that we are doing our part to reinvigorate some of what has been lost.” LeighDeux bedding is fun, fresh and functional and getting notice in the design world and press everywhere. The company is all about girl power and wants to make a difference in other ways too. The company has a scholarship program for students at the UNC School of Entrepreneurship. Very cool!!!
Do your research, be persistent to get what you need and keep it local.
Use the VentureMom Coupon Code VMom to get 5% off of your entire order!!! www.leighdeuxdorm.com
With a daughter going off to college next month we need to find her dorm bedding. The LeighDeux line is so cute and chic, what could be better. Now we just have to make a choice from all the great designs.