Leila Lewis founded Be Inspired® PR in 2007, and as the first-ever Wedding PR™ firm—both in the United States and internationally—it quickly gained traction. Be Inspired has since expanded to include lifestyle brands, working with clients on brand development, promotion, and press placements. And though the company has become the wedding industry’s go-to for public relations, Leila’s career actually began in the lifestyle sector of publishing. So it made sense when she and her team launched Inspired By This, a lifestyle site dedicated to delivering beautiful—and of course, inspiring—content to readers at every stage of life.
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With two companies running under one roof, Leila put double the thought into the office. Featuring bright colors, fun patterns, and well-thought-out details at every turn, it’s clear that the Be Inspired/Inspired By This space is an embodiment of the brand itself: a place where the team and guests can celebrate big wins, major milestones, and great design.
Name: Leila Lewis
Current job/company: CEO of Be Inspired PR and Inspired By This
Education: Business, Santa Clara University
What did work and life look like before Inspired By This? What pushed you to make the leap?
I was mainly focusing on building my Wedding PR company at the time, but I was craving a creative outlet to talk about what was happening for my generation of women before and after the wedding planning days. When I started, I didn’t have any concrete plans to make the site what it is today. It was more for fun, but today it has become a platform for women and an amazing stand-alone business.
What do you think makes Inspired By This so different from other sites?
IBT is different from other sites in that we truly cover all the big milestones of a woman’s life—engagement, wedding, home, career, pregnancy, kids, etc. There’s something for everyone! And our hope is that once our readers find us they stay with us, since our content is constantly changing and evolving.
Where do you find inspiration for content?
My staff is a great source of inspiration! We have a range of women in different life stages—working moms, veteran moms, new moms, single women, women in relationships, college interns…So a lot of our content stems from asking what things we want to read about or know more about. We each bring something unique to the table.
What do you look for when hiring employees?
The top three qualities new hires must have are experience in the field, a strong work ethic, and the ability to get along well with others. We’re a small and tight-knit team, so it’s imperative each person pulls his/her own weight, and that there’s a sense of teamwork among us.
You obviously had a pretty clear vision for Be Inspired PR and Inspired By This. How long did it take for you to see these come to life?
Each year has been better than the last. It took a solid three years to get the business to a place where I had several employees and a vision for what was to come. I couldn’t have imagined the present day any better though. I’m beyond fortunate to have failed where I have and to have had the right opportunities to take advantage of over the years.
I no longer let the business run me; I run my business.
Give us a peek inside a regular day at the Be Inspired/Inspired By This office.
It’s a 9 a.m. sharp start to the day with coffee in hand at the office. Eight women work in the office each day, in addition to two guys who work both in and out of the office and one team member who works remotely—11 #BIPRsquad members strong (plus our interns!). Each day is spent tackling media, new inquiries, clients, accounting, running our workshops, shooting content for the site, and keeping up with social media. We work hard and we play hard. You can find us lunching together, often doing a bakery or ice cream run in the late afternoon (or a green juice run, of course), and sometimes testing new cocktails throughout the day for editorial posts. We all get along and many of my team members spend time together in the evenings and on weekends.
PR can be a round-the-clock industry. Do you thrive off of that or are you able to find a work/life balance?
I no longer let the business run me; I run my business. That means when I’m done at work and home with my kids, I don’t take phone calls or sacrifice my family time for work time. I do still look at emails and check work texts, but I don’t do much with them. I wait until the next business day to handle most of it. Even PR work can wait. I pick and choose what is time sensitive and needs immediate attention because sometimes work duties do require flexibility after hours and that’s OK, as long as it’s not every day.
The Inspired By This office is so dreamy! How were you able to budget for and justify this expense? (I know this is a huge leap of faith for many business owners)
I usually make updates and redesigns to my space every year to two years and I budget in enough to make the upgrades and tweaks that complement our current style and branding. The way your space looks makes a huge impact when visitors are joining you, so setting aside funds to make it look good is really important for future growth and business relationships. I make it a priority!
Our site is all about celebrating milestones, encouraging women, and inspiring ideas/design, so we wanted that to be reflected in our office.
How would you describe your decor style? How did you piece this space together?
Our site is all about celebrating milestones, encouraging women, and inspiring ideas/design, so we wanted that to be reflected in our office with bright colors, fun patterns, and cute details. We’re also a block from the beach, so bringing in a bit of the beachy/coastal vibe was only natural. My staff and I brainstormed ideas, but with so many opinions, we needed someone to help make it cohesive. I brought in my friend Megan Robinson from Design. Wine. Dine. to piece everything together. She did an amazing job!
Where did you shop for decor?
Crate and Barrel, Target, and the occasional flea market!
What’s your favorite part about the office?
The colors and the mix-and-match prints! Plus, I love that we have snapshots of my personal life, favorites quotes, and pictures from photo shoots we have worked on used as artwork and decor in my office and the surrounding rooms.
What has been the most challenging aspect of owning your own companies?
As a business owner, you never really “leave” the office. Weekends, vacation, even maternity leave—you always have one eye on the business.
And the most rewarding?
Being able to make my own schedule, meeting lifelong friends along the way, and seeing how far we’ve come!
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
Continue to live it up! Go to those happy hours, attend every event, meet lots of people, and travel, travel, travel, because 10 years later you’ll have lots of bills to pay, staff to employ, and kids to care for. Life will be better than ever, but your early 20s should be a time to work hard—but also enjoy your freedom and fun!
Leila Lewis is The Everygirl…
Ideal weekend in Manhattan Beach?
Early breakfast with my kids at The Kettle or Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. Park at my office and walk across the street with my family for some beach time. If I can squeeze in a date night, we’d escape to Little Sister for food and cocktails and top it off with a sweet treat from The Manhattan Beach Creamery!
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
Oprah! Burrata toast and truffle pasta.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
My dad immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon and built his own company from the ground up. He would always tell me to not give up (even if someone says ‘no’), surround yourself with quality people, and work harder than anyone else.
Favorite walkable treat?
Chocolate chip cookies from Becker’s Bakery