Faces of fay: Leslie Pearson
Faces of FAY
September 16, 2019
“My husband and I met in the military… that’s what brought us to Fayetteville. We were both soldiers in the army. He was a photographer and videographer, and I was a photojournalist. When we got out of the military, we decided to move to the Wilmington area for a little while and when the Fayetteville Museum of Art became available for sale, we bought it and turned it into a wedding and event space, now called Vizcaya Villa. So, when that was running along, we decided to open up the Fayetteville Pie Company, but all my background is in art. I have no real experience as a restaurateur… I’ve worked in a couple of restaurants but, my passion is as an artist… I enjoyed the process of creating the business, helping to come up with the pie recipes, helping to design the look of the space and I feel like that’s where my art background was really able to help me in launching the Fayetteville Pie Company. Even though a lot of people are ‘sent’ to Fayetteville and they don’t really come here because it’s a ‘great vacation spot’, we say ‘we’re Fayetteville by choice’ because we’re planning to stay here. We have our businesses and I’m already working on another business, which I’m really excited about, Curate Essentials. It’s going to be a place where I can sell my artwork, sell my bath and body products (I make soap), and give classes… things like that. So, right now I’m very excited because I’m in that new phase of launching another business where I get to create the look of it, create the products, launch the website and everything.
When we started the roots of Vizcaya Villa in Fayetteville, it really gave us an opportunity to say ‘ok, well, this is where we live… let’s find out about this community’ and we do like it. I came from a small town in Missouri, so this feels about right for me, where I’m pretty comfortable. Justin came from a big city, Chicago, and he also likes the slower pace, where things are close by, and his business and my business are within 5 minutes from where we live and we like that. And I got involved in the Arts Council, the public arts programs downtown, and seeing all the new developments, and there’s a lot to do in Fayetteville. A lot of people will say ‘there’s nothing to do in Fayetteville’, but it’s really about what you make of it I think. I enjoy Fayetteville. There’s always Raleigh if you really need to get out and do something new. There are museums and things so close by, but there’s always things to do down here too. The Arts Council, like I said… the regional theatre… I mean, every night of the week, if you wanted to do something, you could. You get involved in other things, like the community at Manna Church where I go… the community at Fit Body Boot Camp where I go every day… you can make a lot of friends where you’re planted and that’s what we’ve decided to do.
(What might you tell other military families that don’t typically get off-base about Fayetteville?)
Check out what the Arts Council is doing. There’s always exhibition openings and things like that. Start with something that’s always the solid thing, where you can always go to and then from there ask what else there is to do downtown. There are little galleries, there are coffee shops, there’s all kinds of things. From there, you’re going to find out what’s going on at the Theatre, at the Crown Colosseum… even though I think sometimes people are hesitant to get involved in relationships because their stay here is so temporary… it can be very rich. The time that you spend, whether it’s two years or a year, making relationships is worth the effort, because when you spend time with someone else, you’re leaving a part of yourself and you’re taking something with you… and those experiences enrich the next place you’re going to go to.
(As you think of your role in this community, what would you hope is the impact you leave on others?)
I think that you should always try to say, ‘ok, if there’s something I don’t like where I’m at, what can I do to make it better?’ So, create a space that you want to be a part of. I’ve done that with the Fayetteville Pie Company, and we’ve done that with Vizcaya Villa. We took something (the museum) that was closed, and we completely revitalized it, renovated it and turned it into something that is so amazing. The grounds are even more beautiful than they were when it was the Art Museum and a lot of times people will come into Fayetteville Pie Company and say ‘wow, this doesn’t look or feel like I’m in Fayetteville’, and on the one hand, that’s kinda sad… I understand what they mean though… it’s unique, it’s different, it’s special… and that’s the same thing I’m going to do with Curate Essentials, the new business. I’m going to create a space that I want to be at every day and that other people will want to be at… like a little hidden treasure. There’s always something you can do, instead of sitting on your rears, get out and say ‘what can I do to change things, for the better?’, if you’re unhappy with where you are. Volunteer, support other people that are doing things… poetry nights, art exhibitions, local restaurants… go out and patron those kinds of things and that will generate the drive to continue on with those activities… I’m an artist and I think everybody in Fayetteville kinda thinks of me as the ‘Pie Lady’ and that is true, I’m the ‘Pie Lady’, but also, I’m an artist and I like to make things, and I like to inspire people…”