Alongside working in her family business, supporting her parents and children, spoiling her hubby, and spending precious time with her grandchildren, Leigh Caldwell also created Happy Feat, a dance group for people with disabilities. And to top it off – she’s now written a book!
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I’m just your regular Aussie mum who adores her family, loves life and lives by the mantra, ‘Believe and You can Achieve’.
That’s probably why I was crazy enough to start Happy Feat – a dance group for people with special needs when I can’t even dance or had any formal training in the disability sector! But our Happy Featers have become superstars and performed with Guy Sebastian three times, wowed the audience with Delta Goodrem and performed at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympic Games. What I’m most proud of is watching our Happy Featers’ confidence blossom, and it’s changed their lives.
People think that’s all I do, run Happy Feat. But our family have owned and operated Grady Homes since the early eighties. My dad started as a builder in the Burdekin, so I’ve grown up in the building industry. I’m very privileged to work with my family every day; my gorgeous hubby of nearly 40 years, my wonderful brother and our incredible daughter, and her hubby.
My amazing parents instilled good moral ethics and sound business principles. Over the years, these principles have been the foundation of our solid, enviable reputation for fine quality and delighted customers. Every member of our team is passionate about customer service and ensuring our clients enjoy the experience. We just love what we do.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a business owner / your career?
This is probably where others would talk about the challenges of life balance etc., but because our family has been doing this for a large part of our lives, and work so well together, we’re very lucky to be able to share the load.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
I’ve written a book!
When I began Happy Feat, I couldn’t believe the amazing transformations of our members. Wanting to capture these moments, I began keeping random notes including all the exhilarating life experiences where I had to pinch myself to make sure they’re real.
Being painfully private, I NEVER intended sharing these stories until I realised there were two critical messages: If someone with no formal training or dance experience can achieve these things, there’s no stopping anyone from achieving their goals.
The other important message is ‘To get back up, every time you’re knocked down.’ I’ve noticed so much stress, anxiety, and unhappiness, so these are two critical messages I want to share.
What is the best piece of career/business advice you ever received?
As mentioned before, I feel very blessed to have had my parents as amazing mentors in business and life. There have been countless valuable lessons that we’ve also handed down to our kids and I love seeing that they’re now being instilled in our Grandies.
Going forward, what is next on the cards for your business?
I’m on the cusp of another super exciting adventure! It’s been over twelve years in the making and I’m about to launch my highly anticipated book. This memoir has been described as ‘Inspirational, entertaining and uplifting and will captivate the reader with laugh-out-loud moments and jaw-dropping twists and turns throughout.’
With Grady Homes and the upcoming festive season, I’ll continue spoiling our team with special group events. For over 30 years, we’ve had ‘Damper Day’ each week where I make lots of yummy homemade morning tea items and we all get together. My wonderful mum started this tradition, and we’ve proudly continued it… although I’m grateful it’s now monthly! Damper Day is a great opportunity to catch up and celebrate work anniversaries and birthdays.
For our Happy Featers, they’re going to be superstars once again… starring in my book. We’ll also be spoiling them at our end-of-year party and have some special surprises planned. Then we’re having a well-earned break over Christmas to recharge the batteries ready for another super exciting year ahead.
Upcoming Book Launch details.
With three very special book launches planned, life is about to go on full throttle.
Our Happy Featers are thrilled to have their own pre-launch event.
Then, on the 27th October, I’m excited to say I’ll be holding a community book launch like no other. Held at Flinders Lane, a truly stunning venue, it will include a memorable performance by our Happy Featers, and I’m honoured to have my dear friend Pricey as the MC. Complimentary admission tickets are available at Townsville Tickets.
The third book launch will be at the Burdekin Library on the 11th November. Complimentary tickets are available through EventBrite.
Copies of Hope Grit and Gratitude by Leigh Caldwell will be available for purchase at the book launches, or can be ordered online by clicking here.
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