Jamal Lee has a busy life that, especially now, spans across generations. He and his wife welcomed a newborn into their family in May. They are also parents of a teenager, and their business, Breasia Productions, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Lee said he has always had the mind and soul of an entrepreneur. As a teenager, he ran a variety of side businesses in his neighborhood to earn extra money. When he grew into movie production, sound, lighting and video for different companies, he began to realize that some of those companies did a great job, while others fell short. “I began to realize we could do a better job, that we could bring a better product to the area if we were not under the restrictions of others,” he said.
Breasia now offers special events, audio and video production, lighting design, custom commercial installations and recording studio services for clients throughout the region.
As Lee considered the past 10 years, he defined his business philosophy: “We are really focused on moving from excellent to outstanding.” What’s the difference? “A lot of people do excellent work,” he said. “A lot of people do good work. But outstanding work is a matter of the heart. We want our clients to feel like they have outstanding work from us.”
Breasia’s clients have included the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Hope Lutheran Church, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hyatt Place Hotel, Medtronic and many more.
No Two Events Alike
Breasia — named for two young ladies who share a friendship, Brianna and Dasia (Lee’s daughter) — takes special pride in events, whether that means corporate functions, nonprofit fundraisers or performances, said Lee. “We never want to produce the same event,” he said. “We work diligently to create different ideas based on a client’s decisions.”
One of the first questions Lee asks a customer is: How creative can we be? “How lavish?” he asked. “Or, on the other hand, how corporate? Once we have those guidelines, that’s when our creative juices begin to flow. As soon as we start talking to a client, we’re thinking about colors, dimension, sound.”
Sometimes the most basic questions are the most important, he added. “Will everybody be able to hear in the room? What’s the best angle of lighting?”
Video production is also a point of pride for Breasia, particularly if it highlights an event. “We want our clients to get all the glory for a great event,” said Lee, “but since it’s our work, we definitely want to have our name attached.”
180% Growth Last Year
Lee recalled a large event he produced just a few weeks ago. “The client was coming in and changing things at the last minute,” he said. “She was nervous. I told her, ‘This is why you pay me. I have this for you. It’s done. We will take care of it.’”
When the event was over, the client walked into the production room and said to Lee, “You did it. You really did.”
That’s a feeling that drives Lee to keep producing ever-more-creative events.
Lee believes that the company’s creative approach combined with high standards have led to rapid growth within the last year. “Right now we really are at the peak of our industry,” he said. In the past several years, the company was seeing about a 30–35% rate of growth. Then, in 2014, that rate jumped to 40%, and in 2015, Breasia really took off with a 180% rate of growth. “Part of this is our work, and part of this is a sign that our community’s economy is really getting back on track,” said Lee.
BWCC: Experienced Yet Progressive
Lee chose Laurel as the headquarters for Breasia because he was living in Baltimore, yet doing a lot of work in Washington, D.C., and needed to be based somewhere in between. “I needed a place to house equipment, and D.C. was just too expensive.”
Since the beginning, he has seen the Baltimore-Washington Corridor Chamber (BWCC) as a source of support and networking. “The chamber is amazing,” he said. “They get it — they really get small businesses, their drive to grow and how they need to form relationships. The BWCC has a wealth of knowledge and networking.”
Lee credits BWCC President and CEO Walt Townshend for building a credible, effective team at the chamber. “Walt also really takes time to talk to you. The chamber has been around a very long time, yet they are progressive,” said Lee.
“A lot of older chambers just stay old. But the BWCC has turned the corner, and they are in a position to help businesses like mine grow,” he said. “Very few chambers really understand that smaller businesses are the crux of our economy.”