With all of us living so far away from one another, and in a day and age when it’s difficult for everyone to make it out to the Annual Conference, this blog is a great way to learn more about the Guild, its leadership team, and members. Speaking of the Annual Conference, today’s spotlight focuses on Leigh O’Donnell, HSMG Vice President, and Chairman of the Conference Committee.
Leigh has been a member of the Guild since 2004, and was appointed to the Board of Directors in November 2005 to fill the remainder of a term vacated due to another Board member’s resignation. After working as a member of the ground crew for the 2005 Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, Leigh decided to become more involved with HSMG planning, and has served as Chairman for the last three conferences, and for the 2009 conference as well. (As a side note, if you have yet to attend the Conference, I highly recommend it. It is one of the best, most highly executed and well run events for soapmakers to experience, anywhere.)
Leigh has been a small business owner since 1998. In 2002, she started her own soapmaking company – Adirondack Soapworks.
Currently, Leigh focuses more of her time and energy in the area of event planning. Like most of us, she stays motivated by knowing that she gets to be in control of her schedule and her destiny, and that running her own business allows her to be available to her children and family, and gives her the autonomy to make changes to her business that she finds necessary at any given time.
The secrets to Leigh’s success as a business owner are:
- The ability to thrive in stressful situations
- Knowing that each decision she makes will affect every other decision
- Never let them see you sweat – Leigh presents a sense of to calm to her customers even when she’s not
I happen to agree with Leigh that the biggest challenge we face today as soapmakers is the economy. Leigh believes the best way to handle this is to make smart business decisions and to increase the exposure of your business. If you want to succeed, you need to make business planning and branding a priority.
Along with all of her responsibilities at the Guild, Leigh is a very well-rounded person. Before she became a soapmaker, Leigh traveled the world on ocean-going oil tankers as a licensed Third Mate with the U.S. Coast Guard. As if that wasn’t enough adventure for her, Leigh’s love for martial arts led her to earn a Second Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Instilling a love of nature and outdoor activities in her two children is also very important to Leigh… she and her husband of 15 years live in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY.
In May 2008, Leigh was re-elected to serve an additional two-year term as Vice President of the Guild. You may contact her at: LeighO@Soapguild.org.
Melissa Romano, HSMG Program and Services Volunteer