THE SOUTHERN C(ity) GUIDE 2 the Golden Isles & Athens, Georgia with Cheri Leavy

Sep 29 2015

by Cheri Leavy

At The Southern C, our demographics span the entire South, from large cities to small towns, each with their own unique blend of Southern culture. This mix is a large part of what makes The Southern C special.

We want to promote this mix by having members in different cities peel back the curtain on the way they conduct business in their town. We are calling this “The Southern C(ity) Guide”, which will be promoted across three TSC platforms–Instagram, Pinterest, and here on our website.

Our first Southern C(ity) Guide is brought to you by me – The Southern Coterie co-founder, Cheri Leavy – and I will be spotlighting the two spots I reside in the Golden Isles and Athens, Georgia.


Describe your brand/business and how it got started:

The Southern Coterie developed in November 2011 out of Whitney Long and my love for the South and passion for the people and unique businesses that shape the region. After achieving success both personally and professionally in our careers with local and national publications, Whitney and I decided to bring our shared interests together and create The Southern Coterie. Our dream was to cultivate a space online where like-minded individuals could connect and be inspired.  The Summit which started in 2013 brings the online content to life offering attendees an opportunity to network and connect in person. The niche multi-day conferences combine educational and inspirational sessions with the best and brightest names in Southern business and branding intermingled with phenomenal food, drink and inspiring locales all while fostering a strong sense of community.

Married to my best friend and other business partner Vance, we created Bulldawg Illustrated, a publication that covers our alma mater University of Georgia’s sports and the lifestyle of being a Georgia Bulldog. Now in our thirteenth year, we cover the South’s beloved tailgating and football. Seven years ago, we created a local piece for the place we call home half of the time … Guide2Athens. The pocket-sized square book, blog and social media capture the people and businesses that make America’s best college town so culturally rich.



The makers and doers in the South.


#1 skill needed to be an entrepreneur:

Determination and hard work.  Thick skin!


Role model:

My parents were hard working entrepreneurs who owned convenience stores and I always respected their efforts and enjoyed being along for the journey growing up.


Favorite social media:

Instagram – a picture is worth a thousand words


Most used emoji:

The kissy face, the winky face, prayer hands and the see no evil monkey.


Favorite quote:

It is more blessed to give than receive.


Biggest risk that paid off:

Hosting THREE Summits the first year (2013) in Jekyll Island, Athens and Nashville with Southern Living as it spread the brand but our newly hired leapfrog PR Co thought we were bananas to attempt three in three cities but they hopped on for the ride and have been a tremendous asset to our business ever since.


Interesting tidbit about you or your business:

I am a natural born connector.  I love to match up the right people at the right time.  I love ideas and see possibility everywhere. #connectcollaboratecreate


Theme song:

Ain’t Life Grand by Widespread Panic although my favorite is Porch Song


Favorite book or author:

I love reading Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The authors and artists in Paris in the 1920s have always fascinated me.  I have read a lot of biographies about the literary and art giants of those times.  If I could go back in time, I would visit Gertrude Stein’s salon and have cocktails and conversation with them all.  I like studying the productive artistic rivalry between Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Picasso and Matisse and their zany muses like Zelda and Adriana.  My favorite book is A Moveable Feast.



Painting,reading (magazine junkie), travel, cooking, entertaining and seeing live music


Favorite charity:

Philanthropy has been a large part of my life since I was young as my parents instilled in me to give back early on in my life. I have memories of singing Christmas carols at nursing homes with them when they were in Jaycees and delivering Christmas gifts to needy families via the Empty Stocking Fund.  Right out of college, I became active with Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association and the Brunswick YWCA Foundation Tribute to Women Leaders.  I served on the boards of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation and the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation.  I am currently on the Georgia Museum of Art Friends Board and just finished term as trustee on the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation.  But my favorite might be The Brunswick News/ Leavy Family student-athlete endowment at the University of Georgia.  It is such an honor to provide a scholarship to deserving football players and students like Chris Conley and Malcolm Mitchell and have the opportunity to get to know them off the field.  Check out Read with Malcolm, we are so proud of this young man.


Favorite session at the Summit:

I am blown away by how much I learn from all of our accomplished presenters.

A selection of past presenters include: TIBI Owner & Creative Director, Amy Smilovic; Southern Living Magazine Editors, Stephanie Granada and Hunter Lewis; Traditional Home Editor Tori Mellott; Waiting on Martha founder Mandy Kellogg Rye; House Account and Capitol founder Laura Vinroot Poole; Domino Editor Robert Leleux; Better Homes & Gardens Editor Eddie Ross; Glitter Guide Editorial Director, Caitlin Moran; Matchbook Editorial Director and Co-founder, Katie Armour; Blue Ion Founding Partner, Robert Prioleau; Southern Proper Creative Director and Gadabout Blog Founder, Hanna Seabrook, Salt & Styled author and stylist, Libbie Summers; Award-winning consultant, nationally acclaimed speaker, & Emmy award-winner Ryan Dohrn.


What you love most about your town:

The people of course!  But to give you a sense of place, I love the slow pace and natural beauty of the Golden Isles and spending time relaxing on the water.  The electric energy of a college town like Athens that is bustling with a vibrant food and music scene is a great complement to that coastal lifestyle.  We have the best of both worlds.





Cheri Leavy View More Blog Posts from this Author

Cheri Leavy is a connector, cheerleader and marketing consultant for fellow entrepreneurs.
Building rapport and strengthening a sense of community:
• A community of female entrepreneurs through the The Southern Coterie and The Southern C Summit
• The faces and places of Athens that make our city so vibrant through guide2athens
• A community of devoted football fans through Bulldawg Illustrated
- Contributing editor to Coastal Illustrated, Executive Board Member of the UGA Alumni Association

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