Turning Half Time Into A Full-Time Game
Businesses and business owners come in many different shapes and sizes. No business has the same path or goes down the same road in order to achieve success. While there is no right or wrong way to approach a business, there is one thing all business owners must have – a passion and strong belief in what they do. For Sasha Lewis, Owner of Leisure Installation Services, being a business owner was not on her radar. In fact, Leisure Installation Services began as a side hustle back in 2014.
A locally owned and operated business, Leisure Installation Services, focuses on the installation and sales of outdoor playground and entertainment equipment, gazebos, sheds, and much more. For five years, Sasha and her husband James remained committed to their business on a part-time basis as they were not ready to give up their full-time work. As parents, they knew that safety and security were paramount, so that part of the business came naturally. Sasha knew this was where her passion laid and wanted to dedicate herself to building a company that would be known for quality and integrity.
Dedicating nights and weekends was how they made it work. As business began to pick up steadily, Sasha decided it was time to devote herself fully to a business that fulfilled her. In 2019, Sasha left her full-time job and worked on continuing to expand Leisure Installation Services. Business was booming throughout the year, and the agreeable Arizona weather played a massive role in that. As business grew, so did their service offerings and need for additional staff. In March of 2020, the Lewis’ decided it was time to add an additional support staff member who could help with the installations.
Sasha immediately knew the perfect person was her nephew, who lived in Missouri. Little did she know that just two weeks after his arrival, COVID-19 would plague Phoenix, the state and country. Sasha was beginning to feel defeated with no foreseeable end to the devastation that the pandemic has on her business. While there was an increase in demand for her services, as families were now spending more time at work and were interested in playground and entertainment equipment, there was a massive shortage of lumber and materials, which caused a shortage in supply of equipment.
This further put Leisure Installation Services in a difficult situation. Unable to pay her nephew, Sasha was running out of time and resources to keep her business afloat. It wasn’t until she heard of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) that she felt a glimmer of hope. Immediately, Sasha and James began to apply with their business bank. They completed the application and patiently waited to hear back. Unfortunately, they were rejected, to which Sasha felt that glimmer of hope quickly dim. She was heartbroken and frustrated that they would not reply or try to understand her business’s unique needs.
Shortly after, Sasha was referred to the Prestamos CDFI program at Chicanos For La Causa through a mentor-mentee relationship. In a completely serendipitous moment, Sasha also came across a post from Local First advocating for business owners to apply for the PPP through Prestamos, which she then knew was a sign of what her next steps were. She immediately went on the website and filled out the application. Once more, she waited patiently to hear back; only this time, the waiting was a matter of hours. She was quickly contacted by a Business Advisor from Prestamos who not only helped walk her through the process but also took the time to listen and understand the unique challenges and needs of Leisure Installation Services.
The whole process, from start to finish, took a total of ten days. And while the process was complex and complicated, it felt easy and smooth thanks to the customer service and attention to detail from the staff at Prestamos. Sasha felt the difference as she knew big institutions were dealing with high volumes. With Prestamos, it was different. «It was nice that someone made the extra efforts to help us out. We are the epitome of a small business, and without Prestamos, no one would’ve taken the time to help us complete this process.», recalls Sasha.
Since receiving the PPP, the business has once more began to pick up. Not only are they booked up for service calls, Sasha and James also hired a business manager and installation expert to help out. Sasha is hopeful of what the future has in store for herself and Leisure Installation Services. She wakes up every morning looking forward to helping bring joy to families and children and working with families to make sure their children are safe while having fun.
Prestamos CFDI continues to work and impact small businesses in our market communities of Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. We exist to help nurture and grow entrepreneurs through their journeys. We are a mission-driven entity that operates under the non-profit Chicanos por La Causa, which provides communities with resources ranging from health, education, financial services, housing, and advocacy.
As COVID-19 has dramatically impacted our small business communities, Prestamos is working to ensure that business owners can access resources, assistance, and value. Prestamos continues its efforts to advance our work to provide high-quality financial products and services for small businesses that lead to impactful economic development projects. We invite you to visit our website to find out how you can be part of this impact.