Staying the Course. Meet Jessica Lewis of LáLew Public Relations

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Photography by Jessica Campbell of  Jessica Campbell Design

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am the Communications Specialist for ROC the Future, creator of Single Dope Black Chick, a blog dedicated to changing the narrative for single ladies across America to embrace their singleness and live happy and full lives, and President & CEO of LáLew Public Relations.

I launched LáLew Public Relations in 2016 as a full service PR firm specializing in media relations, marketing, branding, web management, social media and event planning. LáLew serves a variety of clients and has landed client appearances on News 8, 10, 13, and Spectrum, and print publications such as the D&C, City Newspaper, Open Mic ROC and more.

I also host a TV show called Ujamaa Rising that features Black-owned businesses and real-life stories of entrepreneurs.

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What did you want to be when you were a child?
When I was in third grade, I distinctly remember wanting to be an attorney. For some reason, I thought I liked to argue. I never argued with anyone a day in my life so I have no idea where that came from. As I went on through school, I did not realize what I wanted be when I grew up until I took a social studies elective during my senior year of high school called 3D - Dignity, Diversity and Discrimination. The class talked about everything from disability discrimination to race. I attended a predominately white school so we never had any of these conversations in other classes. Anything that was of a ‘controversial’ nature was left untouched.

My teacher’s name was Mrs. Marren. I had her as a Global History teacher a few years earlier and had a good rapport. I told her that I wanted to be a 3D teacher. Mrs. Marren informed me that 3D wasn’t a major in college, but I could study Social Studies Education and I did.

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How did you get started in your current career? What were some difficulties you faced?
My career has taken some twists and turns, but all good twists and turns. I had aspirations of becoming a teacher. I received a Bachelor’s Degree from Buffalo State in Social Studies Education Grades 7-12 and a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester.

While in high school, I remember the Social Studies Department Chair, Mrs. Noonan, pushing into our class and showing us pictures of her travels to Egypt on the overhead projector. Once I graduated from Warner in 2008, I knew I did not want to go into the classroom right away. I wanted real world experience like Mrs. Noonan (And I’m happy to say that I finally made it to Egypt last summer).

As graduation was quickly approaching spring of 2008, I applied for a position at the Urban League to lead their after school college readiness programs. I got the job and started as a 22 year old recent grad school graduate. Some of my students were seniors in high school and I was just a few years older than them. I was young and inexperienced, but full of enthusiasm with an amazing work ethic. I was promoted just a few years later and won the Employee of the Year Award in 2012.

Shortly after that, I learned about a vacancy at the Urban-Suburban Program. I was an alumni of the program and they were looking for a fresh new face to serve as a Community Liaison. After applying and interviewing, I gladly accepted the position and began my new career as an employee at Monroe #1 BOCES where the program is housed. I served in that role for a few years, while taking on the responsibility of managing the website, creating content for the newsletter and managing the social media pages. Eventually, my role changed and I became the Communications Specialist.

What was awesome about working for Monroe #1 is that they had a tuition reimbursement program. I was able to take classes at night to hone my skills for a position that I really was learning while on-the-job. It was during a class with Dresden Engle that I learned about the wonderful world of public relations.

While all was going well, I had an abrupt ending to my job with the Urban-Suburban Program. It was a civil service position that required an exam with a certain passing rate. Let’s just say that I’ve never been a good test taker…

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In moments of self-doubt, hardships or failure, how do you build yourself back up?
My relationship with Christ is essential to my ability to overcome hardships. There are many times I’ve dealt with self-doubt and difficult situations, but one thing that keeps me going is to avoid staying in a low place. Whatever is required to pick myself back up I will do. Most often, I find my place of refuge at church. I attend church Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays. The daily tests and trials can easily weigh you down, but I’m committed to my own joy and happiness.

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What is your best advice to someone just starting out? What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
My advice is to always stay the course. If you’re interested in pursuing entrepreneurship, the journey can be hard, but is very rewarding. I would encourage aspiring or new entrepreneurs to step out on faith, being unafraid to make mistakes. It is through mistakes that we learn and grow. I would also say don’t let fear or doubt get in your way. You are an achiever and victory is within reach. I would caution any person against comparing themselves to others as each person has his/her own journey. And, lastly, in the face of adversity never comprise your integrity. I wish that someone could’ve given me some business basics. I’ve learned everything along the way.

I’m internally motivated. My hustle drives everything I do. I’m inspired by other women who are soaring in their respective fields.
— Jessica Lewis
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What inspires you?
I’m internally motivated. My hustle drives everything I do. I’m inspired by other women who are soaring in their respective fields.

What is your favorite part of what you do?
I love working with clients and getting results. If a client hires me to get them on Good Day Rochester, I love to receive an email in the affirmative.

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What do you find most challenging?
When I get emails that start with “Unfortunately,….”

Name some local creatives that you really admire.
Sonya Miller, MUA

Jauqema Jones, Author and Minister

Christy Roushey, Floral Illustrating/Lettering

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