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For Katrina survivor, success after loss is a lesson learned

Andria Lewis-300As a survivor of Hurricane Katrina, Andria Lewis has shown that with hard work and dedication you can do more than exist – you can truly rebuild and win. From corporate functions to elaborate weddings, Lewis makes sure that she places her creative signature touch of vibrant colors and original flair all over the event. Featured in Essence and Ebony, Lewis demonstrates to others how it should be done.

Carlee McCullough: What are you most proud of in your business?

Andria Lewis: That I have built my company after literally losing everything I owned in Hurricane Katrina. I didn't have a car, I barely had clothes and I had no place to live. I lived with family for two months after moving to Memphis. I am most proud that I survived a significantly emotional battle.

CarleeMcCullough-160CM: Awesome. What was the best advice you received along the way as far as your business goes?

AL: I recently attended a conference and had the absolute pleasure of hearing Carolyn Chism-Hardy speak. She said, "Fall in love with results." That short phrase spoke volumes to me! She said you shouldn't fall in love with your company, but with the results it can produce. After the conference at which I heard her speak, I saw her leaving at a luncheon we had both attended. I literally jumped out of my truck, called her to introduce myself to thank her for her words. In this short amount of time they have meant the world to me and how I view things professionally.

CM: What are successful entrepreneurs doing differently?

AL: Successful entrepreneurs know what they are good and what they are not good at. I'm not a bookkeeping/accounting person, so I outsource those services. It keeps everything running as it should. There is no shame in not being 100 percent at every aspect of running a business. Now, you shouldn't be below 50 percent at anything. But as long as you work to keep yourself educated on aspects you are not as strong in, you can keep your finger on the pulse of your business.

CM: Do you notice any new trends in the marketplace? If so, what are they?

AL: Anyone who knows me knows that I dislike the word "trend." To me "trend" is just like the other guy's stuff. It's common. It means your wedding will look like the ones before and after it. I like creating something different.

CM: What books or resources would you recommend for individuals starting out?

AL: I recommend books on your shortfalls. I recommend books that let you know it's OK to have shortfalls. Whether it's building your team or simply how to do what you do better. Any business owner should be reading at least 5-6 books per year.

CM: What's next for you as a business owner?

AL: Well, I just hired an assistant. I don't know why I waited so long to find her! It helps my productivity immensely! We are also branching out into more states (Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia). We already have a presence in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas and are strengthening those bonds as we grow.

CM: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in business?

AL: Don't be afraid. Listen to critics (they may actually help you) but don't be discouraged by them. Filter what they say. Know yourself. Be subjective with yourself. Don't think you know everything. The minute you think you know everything, you will begin to falter.

CM: Any closing remarks?

AL: Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your series. It is truly appreciated. I encourage any person, especially women, who are looking to get started in business to go for it. I really feel sorry for people who dread going into their jobs every day. This life is too wonderful to do something just to pay the bills. Go for it! Research it. Find your niche. And go for it!!

(For more information about Andria Lewis Events LLC, visit www.alewisevents.com.)

For event planner Andria Lewis, it’s all about details

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