Interview

#PGOTD: Interview With Erika Lewis of the Grits & Biscuits party franchise

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In 2010, a familiar Southern dish made its way up north in the form of a small party at a music hall in Brooklyn. Five years later, the Grits & Biscuits party franchise is known nationally, selling out tickets within hours in cities like New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and others.  The crew that created Grits & Biscuits is EZ Mo Breezy, E for Erika Lewis, Z for Alzo Slade, Mo for Maurice Slade and Breezy, just because it was a cool name. Our PGOTD is the lady of the group Erika Lewis. The North Carolina A&T and University of Michigan graduate of Raleigh, NC is the silent, yet powerful ingredient to the popular franchise.

How did the first Grits & Biscuits party come about?

Alzo and I were friends and I knew Maurice through Alzo and we were talking about Southern music and the idea was thrown out to have a Southern hip hop party and Alzo’s response was that it was something that he had been thinking about for a really long time. At first for the name he called it Biscuits and Grits and then we agreed to Grits and Biscuits. Initially, we were going to use a DJ from the South who was a friend of Alzo’s then Maurice was approached about being a partner as the DJ. We were just going to do one party and we didn’t know who would show up. It’s just evolved.

What’s your role in the trio?

The three of us were always really good at recognizing each others talents and lanes. They are the guys on the stage, front and center. My role is behind the scenes handling a lot of the logistics and marketing. I’m always running around making sure everyone is having a good time. Since I’m not the one on the stage, what brings me joy is making sure everyone else is having fun. I don’t think anyone can say that the three of us don’t give respect to the patrons.

What are lessons learned from the parties?

We have to be very true to our brand and what we’re trying to create. For us, it’s never been about the money. More importantly, our patrons experience. We can’t be reactive to what someone else was doing. We’ve always been focused on what we want to do and what’s our next step and how do we want the experience to be. There are other parties in the same lane but I think everyone does it their own way but there’s space for that.

How do you feel as a woman you bring a balance to the group?

I’m very fortunate because my business partners respect my opinion and I respect theirs. I think I’m laid back myself but I’m a Type A personality and I don’t have a problem with letting my opinion be known. Sometimes I have to bring in the female perspective, but the cool thing about the three of us is majority always wins.

How do you manage your work balance with your full time job at Scratch and full-time party planning?

I am the Senior director of the project leadership group for Scratch, a creative and marketing agency housed within Viacom working clients inside Viacom and externally. For balance, I have a lot of support and a lot of prayer. Scratch is very understanding and they know what I do so they give me space to do it and I appreciate that. Then when I have to focus on Scratch and produce deliverables I do that. I feel like I have two full-time jobs and it’s exhausting and the personal life gets hit the hardest. But I have no doubt that right now this is what God wants me to do so I’m just trying to be obedient until he tells me what’s next.

With five years of success, the group hopes in the future to take the party overseas. G&B in Lagos? Who’s down for a trip to Africa? You know we’ll go where the party is! If you’re craving a plateful of G&B, you can catch them next at the Made In America Festival on Sunday. They also have parties coming up in Orlando, Detroit and Greensboro, N.C.

 

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