Meet Nailah and Jamal Lee
"Be a husband and a wife after hours. Enjoy your marriage, take vacations, and do not lose true intimacy with one another because of business."
Mr. and Mrs. Lee are the owners of Breasia productions. Breasia Productions is a professional audio, lighting, video production and online streaming company committed to providing quality service and support for various types of concerts and events, large and small.
Business With Your Spouse: Does It Work?
1. Professionals often suggest that having your spouse as your business partner isn't a good idea. How are the two of you dispelling those myths?
That may be true of many but for us, working with someone that is your life partner works. We honor and value our relationship. We are careful not to overstep each other’s position. We trust each other. Honesty is important. We have active positions within our business. Consequently, my wife handles the administrative side of our business along with a dynamic team. My team and I design and produce the various shows, concerts, and corporate events. These departments work independent of one another allowing for a degree of separation which is healthy. It is necessary for the departments to come together quite regularly to achieve a common goal. My wife and I have learned over time to put our differences aside to meet our Client’s needs and to create an outstanding event. Also, it doesn’t hurt that we actually like each other. Contrary to what people may think, our desks are not side by side. We work in separate spaces within the company. Because our company has multiple locations, we do not have to be in constant physical contact at all hours of the day. This model has worked for more than 11 years.
2. As business partners, have you always shared the same passion to work in the industry that you're both in?
Absolutely not. My wife, Nailah Gobern Lee, LGSW, is a licensed and accomplished social worker which is in a completely different direction than event production. I have been in the event industry for over 24 years. My wife joined me in my entrepreneurial endeavors halfway through my journey. She did not jump on the bandwagon immediately but after about three years into our relationship she saw the value of what I was building and with minimal hesitation fully supported me. It meant a lot to me that she was willing to put her career on hold to help direct and fill in the areas where my company needed support.
3. When did you both decide that working together would work well for you both?
The moment was when we realized that Breasia Productions had the potential to support our growing family. Jamal and I had to live a minimalistic lifestyle in order to give our company a chance to grow. There was a moment in 2010 where I, (Nailah), saw the benefit of joining the company full time but it was a struggle for me. I had a clear path and purpose set before me in the field of social work and community organizing. It took careful calculation and a lot hugs and kisses from my dear husband to help me get past my fears of entrepreneurship. We both have our areas of expertise and we naturally fell into our roles within the company where our gifts could be better utilized. I do not consider myself as much of a risk taker as my husband. We ultimately made the collective decision for me to join the company full-time in 2011.
4. We all have a unique set of skills. How have your individual strengths in marriage transferred to your strengths in the business realm?
We both put God first. He is at the center of our marriage and as a result He is at the center of our company. Because of the marriage there is a definite bond created that does not afford us the luxury of ultimate failure. It does not imply the we have not had our share of let downs and disappointments but overall failure is not an option. To be clear, Nailah joined my company before we were married but after marriage, all that I have and all that I am was hers as well. A better model for us was Co-ownership. Respect, love, understanding, compassion, willingness to succeed are just a few words to describe our marriage. We had these qualities before we were married but it was solidified and strengthened after marriage which spills over into our organization.
5. What are the benefits of having your spouse as a business partner and what are some of the challenges?
It is very beneficial to have someone that keeps you grounded. The challenge is that sometimes I just wanted my wife without the business attached in any way. Often times problems in business trickled over into our personal life resulting in some pretty cold nights, but never the opposite. We have never had our issues at home trickle over to our business or employees. My husband and I are business professionals that happen to be married to one another.
6. What 3 "nuggets" would you give to a couple thinking about going into business together?
We are both still very much engaged in nugget building. We do not profess to have all the answers and what works for us may not work for others. That said...
Nugget 1: Respect one another. Care enough about your spouse and what he/she has to say without bias or malice. This will allow you both to freely engage one another.
Nugget 2: Arguments will come but are often a window for greater insight. Do not hold grudges, talk to one another. You are not always right; agree to disagree. Come to a collective decision knowing that success is the ultimate goal.
Nugget 3: Co-ownership is not for everybody. Be careful, co-ownership with your spouse could be the beginning of the end so PRAY. In our household prayer works. Have your “why” at the forefront of your mind and business relationship. Make an unselfish decision that benefits your spouse which ultimate elevates the unit to take on the awesome endeavor of Co-ownership. It is not easy but the rewards are stellar if you keep love at the center. It may seem corny but it works.