I jumped at the chance to interview Cheryl Tiegs last February when she was in Nashville for Lexus Nashville Fashion Week, representing Cambria, a natural stone counter top company. Who wouldn’t, right? I knew StyleBlueprint readers would enjoy learning a little about this legendary model’s life, but my real desire was simply to make my older brother green with envy. Growing up, Cheryl’s name was revered by him as the ultimate beauty combination of girl-next-door meets sexuality wrapped into a fishnet bathing suit.

Ahhh, that bathing suit.  Little known fact: in 1978 my family had the distinction of being one of 340 subscribers in all of America who cancelled their subscription to Sports Illustrated based on Ms. Tiegs’ appearance in that year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Addition.  After all, the subscription was in my brother’s name and he was just 9. Scandalous. However, one look at that forbidden fruit was it took: he was smitten.

Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

 

Fast forward 33 years and here I was, arriving late and unshowered, for this interview. Sometimes that is the life of a mom with three kids and crazy work hours.  But with a little dry shampoo, lip gloss and extra good posture and I was as good as I was going to be and I hit the up button on the elevator.

I knocked on the door to her suite and was introduced to the illustrious Cheryl. Note: If your formative youth was after the mid-70’s to early 80’s, it might help set the scene here to know that Cheryl Tiegs, along with Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Ladd, and Heather Thomas were the Gisele Bundchen sirens of the age, whose faces graced many a boy’s bedroom wall on posters, all in bathing suits. Having grown up with her larger-than-life image staring back at me from my brother’s room, here she was, decades later, in person. It was a big deal, particularly given that I, the little sister, was the one actually meeting her. She was pleasant and tall – my height, actually at 5′ 11″. Over 60 now, she looks amazing.

We said our hellos, and what did I do next? I handed Cheryl Tiegs a mason jar filled with tomato juice from Windy Acres Farms, a small farm located in Scottsville, Kentucky, sold locally at Paul’s Fruit Market. I might as well have arrived barefoot given the way I was feeling at this point, but I had read that she embraced local eating, supported farmers and was very “green” before being “green” was ubiquitous. I told her she could add vodka to it later on, and that it was my favorite.

Even though my gesture may sound odd, it was not unappreciated. Apparently, Cheryl was so impressed with the gift that Cambria started calling my friend with Nashville Fashion Week wanting to know how Cheryl could get more juice! (Not an easy thing to do, mind you. Windy Acres does not have a website.) Anyway, the point is, if you have something that you love, go ahead and give it, even if it’s in a mason jar, costs just $5.99 and you’re giving it to a total super star. Like the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts. And, I think the uniqueness of my gift made our interview memorable, or at least that’s what I am telling myself.

Liza and Cheryl

So, what did I learn about Cheryl and Cambria? Well, Cambria is a completely green company and that’s what got Cheryl’s attention.  Cambria natural quartz surfaces are stronger than granite, do not require any sealant or polishing, and are highly resistant to stains. Furthermore, “Cambria is the only producer of natural quartz surfaces in the United States. All other quartz brands are imported.” Cheryl was first made aware of the Cambria company while visiting relatives in Minnesota, where the company is headquartered. The green ethos that Cheryl has always maintained paved the way for a natural partnership with Cambria, as she really believed in the product. The samples I saw were impressive, and when I redo my kitchen one day, Cambria will be the first line I consider.

12 new colors for Cambria

I did discover some interesting tidbits about Cheryl’s modeling days, as well. I asked her what she hated the most, which was a reader’s suggestion when I posted a request on Facebook for questions for the interview. She answered that she really doesn’t have room for hate in her life, at which point, I found myself thinking that if I were a pot smoker, Cheryl would be the person I’d want to smoke it with. (Really. Isn’t that the oddest thought to have pop into your mind?) She’s just so laid back, philosophical and interesting…and articulate. She has that “California” healthy vibe, and I had the feeling she could easily sit on a porch swing and read all day long and be perfectly content. But, if I had to describe her to you, gorgeous, tall, laid back and calm are the words I would use.

Back to what she disliked, not hated. She did not like feeling so isolated. She moved from one project to the next and found herself inserted into new groups of people often, thus rarely having continuity. (Yes, that would stink.)

I asked her what is different about today’s models versus when she was at her modeling peak. She answered that models today are far more catered to and far more famous. To her, modeling was a job, not a path to celebrity. And I found this fascinating: there were many times when she was expected to do her own hair and makeup. She said there are magazine cover shots of her where she was her own makeup artist. That would NEVER happen today!  But, it was her job to always be prepared, even if the makeup artist didn’t show. Clearly practice makes perfect.

In the end, we chatted for about 30 minutes and I wanted to friend her on Facebook to keep in touch. Of course I didn’t, but I really liked her. I hope she remembers Nashville fondly whenever she sips on that tomato juice, given on a whim to make an impression and support a small, southern farmer.