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Written by Amelia Jeffers

Photography by Scott Cunningham


Connie Leal Ballenger by Scott Cunningham

The de facto grande dame of the Columbus boutique scene, Connie Leal Ballenger has watched trends come and go and weathered the ups and downs that come with being an entrepreneur - and done so with style. After ten years with an accounting and consulting powerhouse, Connie examined her life goals and left to pursue a career on her own terms - one that would allow for intellectual challenge, room for personal relationships, and the flexibility to be present and available for her family. She is grateful for the community that embraced her vision and gives back generously, sharing her time and experiences with many, including the Homeless Families Foundation, CATCH Court, Runway to Awearness, and The Childhood League Center. That her eponymous boutique is celebrating its 25th year is proof positive that good taste, great style and genuine hospitality stand the test of time. For more information about Leal, visit

1. Family and Friends: I have been blessed with two sons who I adore, who were born from a marriage that means everything to me. Wonderful parents and lots of relatives who taught me about life instilled an appreciation for family from an early age. In Columbus, I have come to I consider my close friends my family, too.

2. Faith: My family raised me to know and understand the importance of faith, which has been the constant in my life no matter what - sustaining me in tough times and grounding me through success.

3. High heels: I wake up in the morning and put on heels. Even before I married a man who is 6’4”, I liked wearing heels.

4. Decaf Earl Grey tea: Having a cup of tea before bed is my nightly ritual. I am always cold and the cup of tea warms me up and relaxes me no matter how hard the day.

5. Tweezerman tweezers: My Italian (and Spanish) heritage makes these a must!

6. The Word Among Us: I start each day with this Catholic monthly magazine that contains scripture and a daily meditation. It is a publication I have subscribed to for over 15 years. I rarely start the day any other way.

7. Anna’s Tailoring (Leal’s seamstress): Years ago, I found Anna, who has her own shop very close to Leal on Riverside Drive. An amazing seamstress and business colleague, Anna NEVER fails us. I could not have accomplished some crazy fetes of customer service over the years without Anna.

8. Hugs: I am a hugger. I give a lot of hugs but what I love best is receiving, especially from my boys.

9. Salt: I love to cook and I cook most nights for my family. I probably use too much salt but I love it.

10. Fashion: I love the expression of a person’s style through how they dress. I was fascinated with clothing and fashion from as early as I can remember, and have always loved putting on something that makes me feel good. The great joy of Leal is helping other woman find their style or to help them find things that fit their style. It’s not rocket science or life-saving, but I love making someone feel pretty or bold or confident by finding them the right pieces.


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