Photo by Michael Moss Photography

Behind the Design: Ivy Design Firm CAROLYNLEONA

Behind the Design: Ivy Design Firm CAROLYNLEONA – Raleigh, NC

Liz – how did you get where you are today?

Liz Goldberg: I was born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago, where I lived, worked (work hard, play hard, right?), and graduated from design school. My family and I are so happy to now call Raleigh, North Carolina, our home, and this is where I run CAROLYNLEONA Design. Raleigh is a special part of the country, close to both the beach and the mountains, with a fun and eclectic mix of creative people, as well as a great foundation for work/life balance – as elusive as that tends to be.

How is Raleigh unique from other major design hubs?

LG: Raleigh is unique because of its strong, steady growth, its vibrant tech community, and for being able to retain young talent, being located near so many major universities. We are also fortunate to be a major city so close to High Point, the furniture capital of the world. Raleigh is a true melting pot and I simply adore the history of North Carolina as a foundation for the global furniture market. While the old, rich textile past of the state is no longer with us, the patina and culture remain.


Who are your favorite local vendors, installers, and people of the trade in North Carolina?

LG: While we do not have a “Merchandise Mart” similar to my hometown of Chicago, the talent in my market is incredible and ever-changing. We are so lucky to be so close to High Point and have gotten to know that town very well over the years. A few of our favorite vendors include:

Visual Comfort – Our very favorite lighting vendor, everything they manufacturer is timeless and beautiful! We love adding their pieces into our projects, bringing a sense of history and depth to a room, the perfect finishing touch.

Zoe Bios Creative – The coolest art and coolest showroom in town! They recently moved into an old tile showroom and the walls and floors are covered in unique, intricate patterns, the perfect backdrop for modern, gorgeous artwork. Amy Flurry, the talented author of Recipe For Press, introduced us to this showroom when we attended her recent book launch event.

Antique & Design Center – No trip to market is complete until we walk through the Antique & Design Center at Market Square. We love seeing original pieces from all over the world that provide so much inspiration for our designs. Since we are less than a two hour drive away, we are lucky enough to be able to pack our SUV full of one-of-a-kind goodies to bring back to our clients, and ourselves!

Henredon – Traditional, timeless and well kept. We stop at Henredon every market to see what Mark D. Sikes has dreamed up in his newest collections each season. His vignettes and spaces are finished to perfection, details always matter.

And, of course, we are always on the lookout for new resources to bring to our clients and use market as a place to form new and lasting relationships with vendors. A few markets ago, we met Maggie Cruz Home who makes the most beautiful upholstered side pieces in the most candy shop-inspired pastel fabrics and washed wood finishes. And then there is Red Egg, which happens to be located in a charming, old house. The owner, Carol Gregg, is a wonderful hostess, who is always ready to show us around her beautifully handcrafted Asian furniture, lacquered with vibrant colors.

Do you attend markets? If so, what are you go-to-markets and what’s your market strategy?

LG: High Point Market, ICFF in NYC and the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market® are our current go-to markets. My strategy has evolved over the years and the most important advice I can share is simple – that success is all about planning beforehand to get the most out of every minute of your time at market. Staying organized, disciplined, and on schedule is key, as well as being mindful of how many days you want to power through while staying on top of your game. Making sure we don’t over schedule our days is so important as some of our most exciting moments have occurred when walking past a showroom that inspires us to stop and go in. We use market to continue developing vendor relationships, to find specific pieces for our clients, and of course, to meet up with our Ivy tribe for a glass of red wine (or two!).

How does designing make you feel?

LG: In one word, TIMELESS. I use this word intentionally because design is genuinely my passion and I feel fortunate to design for my clients every day. I do my best to stay in that creative moment while designing, and when I get going, I can go on for hours and hours – it almost feels like time stands still.

What’s your business mantra?

LG: Elevate your everyday! CAROLYNLEONA’s brand must stand the test of time, so every day, I am very conscientious of the importance of clear communication, problem solving for my clients, and to lead my firm with integrity – no matter how much of a rollercoaster the day-to-day with our projects can feel like.

How do you maintain a healthy work / family / personal life balance?

LG: I always want to hear more ideas and thoughts on this topic, too, because I absolutely adore my precious toddler twin daughters and husband, and there is just never enough time in the day. My ever-elusive balance is achieved by these two main ingredients:

The first is to be fully present in whatever you are doing – when I am with my family, my phone is put away and I am totally focused on them. Whether we are singing “Let It Go”  (lots of Anna and Elsa in our house these days), jumping on the trampoline at toddler gymnastics class, or just walking around the produce section of the grocery store picking out our favorite fruit, I stay in the moment. The old cliche is true that “time flies when raising children”. When it is time to work, I fully immerse myself in the project and task at hand. My clients are my priority during business hours.  

The second key is to take care of yourself! If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family or run your own business. While there is always coffee on hand (and lots of it!), I recharge my battery by taking my favorite barre class at Carolina Barre & Core, who are also clients. We loved helping Amity Whalen with her newest barre studio location floor plan and are so thankful for clients who turn into friends, and, who happen to teach an amazing (and hard!) class. I have always kept a stack of shelter magazines next to my bed, flipping a glossy is a favorite escape. Another key element is that I make sure to eat a healthy diet, which helps me keep my energy up and manage stress. All of these things ensure that I am present and able to commit to both CAROLYNLEONA and my family.

How much time do you dedicate to social media and content marketing?

LG: In the modern design market, commitment to social media and content is key to staying top of mind and building brand awareness. Time varies, but I am working on building content every day. I recently made a pact with myself to plan out and build an editorial calendar, which has been a complete game changer (a huge tip and something I wish I had started sooner!). I always try to think about what is fresh and interesting from my brand’s perspective that my clients and followers will enjoy seeing.

Why did you join Ivy?

LG: My business is continuously growing very rapidly so I began researching platforms to manage my invoicing and product categories. I randomly came across Ivy, had a fantastic demo, and needless to say, signed up that day…little did I know that I was a very early adopter! Beyond the software, I found my favorite aspect of Ivy is the community. Ivy has been a godsend and I am grateful, every day, to be a part of this talented and supportive group of professionals. I can say, without a doubt, that my business has grown much faster being a part of this special platform.

How does Ivy streamline your day-to-day workflow?

LG: Where do I start? Incredible organization and backend management of my projects is just the tip of the iceberg for all that Ivy helps me with in my day-to-day. I love that I can manage all aspects within this extremely complex industry and knowing it is all in one place is a major time saver!

What have you learned from the Ivy Designer Community?

LG: Camaraderie at its finest, it’s like having coworkers who just happen to live all across the country. A few things top of mind are: best practices, new vendors, how to avoid/deal with difficult clients and situations, and planning for markets.

What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?

LG: The Ivy Product Clipper! Run, don’t walk, and download this feature today, it is THE BEST! I used to manually type in all product information into excel to communicate and manage each clients’ prefab and custom pieces. Now we just clip, send, and can generate custom tear sheets instead of spending countless hours putting together presentations!

Ivy is the # 1 software for designers. To learn more about Ivy, schedule a demo with an Ivy Guru who can show you how designers use Ivy to streamline their workflow and make more time for what they love, design.