Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Levi Lancaster, CEO of Levis Loft L.L.C, located in Belleville, IL, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I launched my business (Levis Loft, LLC), specializing in first-rate artistic & event management services, ooak artworks, social media marketing, advertising & influencing. I work with small & large corporations, universities, nonprofits, and the general public. I'm a passionate artist/mental health advocate, social media influencer, published author, and trained management specialist.

Tell us about yourself

At the age of 28, my mother was diagnosed with Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia. At that point, I was 13 years old, dealing with my mother's mental condition and my sexuality as a gay male adolescent. Seven years with extended psychiatric stays, a plethora of medical visits, enormous amounts of medications, and a hollow feeling that no one wishes to experience came to pass, but I knew there was no cure for this condition, so I've fought it with love and will continue to do so in my daily life, expressing myself via my art. In reality, the emotional suffering we were experiencing had a profound impact on us and transformed both worlds throughout a single night, leaving long-lasting, colorful ripples. It took some time to get to where we are now, which is "not calm and certainly not carefree, but a better place overall, always looking over my shoulder." I finished school two years ahead of schedule to care for my ailing mother. I worked my way up to a mid-level executive position (with a restaurant chain), where I began my 25-year career in leadership roles in numerous industries. I frequently marvel at how I completed all of the above while simultaneously graduating with a 4.0 GPA from my Hospitality Management program. I suppose you get it done when you live with these concerns at such a young and impressionable age and then discover you're on your own. That was, at the very least, my decision. Because they were all coping with and attempting to comprehend the workings of this dreadful sickness, I had no family help or proper support. Years later, I went to school and graduated with the same GPA in Interior Design. Even when confronted with adversity, it's difficult to envision what a person is genuinely capable of doing.

Due to the strains of caring for my single (mentally disabled) mother daily, household necessities, accepting my sexuality, and work-related anxieties, I ended up in the hospital myself. My first experience with caretaker burnout occurred at a critical point in my life. My paintings incorporate both controllable and uncontrollable abstraction processes, which is precisely what this sickness has taught me. While creating artwork and putting one's thoughts on paper is a planned and organized procedure, not everyone needs to be an artist to benefit from art therapy. Paints, brushwork, palm paint, wild erratic strokes, paint explosions, or quiet, calm imagery can all aid the recovery process. Art helps you grow as a person on many levels, and it keeps you grounded and in touch with your inner self in a crazy world. Art has evolved into a sort of meditation that teaches patience. Whether we enter the art world or allow art to join ours is up to us. - Colorful Realities 12.18.21 by Levi Lancaster.

By choosing mainly formal solutions, I try to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria but are based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incites the viewer to make new personal associations. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, I investigate the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects and the limits of spectacle based on our assumptions of what landscape means to the viewer. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of your imagination. My works establish a link between the landscape's reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. By applying abstraction, I produce intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles. These works are based on formal associations, which open a unique poetic vein. Multilayered images arise in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality are questioned. A portion of each sale is donated to (NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness - for you mom.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

What I do today, the things I've left behind these actions are my legacy. I wrote my book Colorful Realities to help individuals in the circumstances like my own without focusing on myself, giving hope and inspiration to so many people living with mental illness. It was the very least selfish act I could gift back to the world.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Having the unique ability to properly juggle various important backend processes, such as financials, while servicing multiple customers with various needs. It takes resilience, attention to detail, and flat-out talent when running any business.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Embrace the fear of failure.
  2. Learning from each mistake to secure professional and personal growth. Take time to get educated in your fields of expertise, and always hold yourself accountable. Income, be it active or passive.
  3. Get your hands dirty because you should never rely on what-ifs, have a plan.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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