Cover Story: Shonda Lewis

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT OF SHONDA LEWIS

Shonda Lewis has always been at the top of her game. From early on growing up in Columbus, Ohio she knew she wanted to become a successful entrepreneur and her father taught her father to never accept “no” for an answer.

As a young girl Shonda realized that she wanted to have financial independence, so she and a friend started a gardening business in the neighborhood pulling up weeds and planting flowers. Later on as a young woman she managed another friend’s singing and songwriting career, but when the hits didn’t come Shonda moved on. “I realized this isn’t happening and we needed to get real jobs,” she recalls. Thus her highly successful real estate career was born. She now enjoys a place in the “Ten Million Dollar Club,” a distinction bestowed upon top-selling realtors.

From mowing her neighbors’ lawns at the age of 9 to managing her friend’s singing career, she’s done more in her 40-something years of life than most people achieve in a lifetime including: becoming a highly successful real estate broker, running a bodybuilder’s competition, managing the careers of several bodybuilders, manufacturing swimwear/clothing, distributing healthcare products and writing a book. Ultimately Shonda has managed to live out her dreams while enjoying both financial and health success.

Motivated by her father, Shonda played team sports from the time she was 6 and was always in great shape. By her 30s though, she found herself overweight (165 pounds to be exact) and in desperate desire of her old body. “I initially decided just to get a six-pack, but [sculpting my body] soon became a passion.” After “stalking” Mike Davies, a renowned body builder and trainer with the Fitness Factory gym in her hometown, her eyes opened up to the world of competitive bodybuilding. Within 90 days she’d dropped 45 pounds. Three months later, she competed in her first bodybuilding competition, where she placed fourth and fifth out of 30 contestants in each of two shows. “I always wanted to win and be the best,” she says. “If there is anything stopping you, it would be yourself.”

Shonda says tenacity and passion pulled her through those inevitable bumps in the road and kept her focused on the ultimate prize — winning.  She was not deterred during her initial training days when her muscles were not as toned as her fellow trainees. She started out with a 10-minute workout then would return the next day and bump it up to 15 minutes, eventually building up her stamina one day at a time. Shonda went on to win an amateur division in the Arnold Schwartz Festival founded by Hollywood star-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger. With her trainer-turned partner Davies, she helped create rockstarbikini.com, a competition where a celebrity panel, judges amateur women who enter online. Finalists are invited to a live competition where they vie for prizes along with the chance to attend a meet and greet with the former “Mr. Terminator” himself. “We created the highly successful Rock Star Bikini contest and shortly after, realized we needed a bikini bathing suit line,” notes Shonda. She launched and now runs the RSB swimwear and clothing line with partner Davies.

As Shonda’s body blossomed people began inquiring about the vitamins she was taking. “Instead of sending them to vitamin stores I found the perfect supplement company Advocare, a network marking company and became a rep,” she adds. There she grew a large following of like-minded consumers and created a passive supplemental income stream. She then saw an opportunity to begin managing bodybuilders through her The Media Way LLC, agency.

She attributes her ability to multi-task and juggle so many aspects of her businesses to her real estate broker training, where time management and being a jack-of-all-trades is paramount to success as an agent. Shonda says she is now at a point in her real estate career where she can delegate many responsibilities to her assistants, allowing her to focus on her other business endeavors, including penning a new book with fitness writer Tony Reynolds titled “Getting Fit For Your 50 Shades of Grey Adventure.” The book aims to help readers get fit enough to perform all the sexual positions in the wildly popular erotica book series. “This book will help the reader enjoy their ’50 Shades’ experience and not wind up in the hospital,” quips Shonda.

Even with all the accolades under her belt, she also longs for success in the entertainment field, hoping one day to land a spot in front of the camera. “I would love to be on ‘The Apprentice,’” she says. “Mr. [Donald] Trump is my celebrity crush, as he handles all aspects of his business brilliantly. I have always admired that about him and strive for his level of excellence.” Shonda is also working on a reality show about her Rock Star Bikini competition. She ultimately hopes to develop the brand into the “Victoria Secret of swimwear.”

Unfortunately her entrepreneurship has come with a high price, she has yet to find a “life partner.” She says the majority of her time and energy goes into her businesses leaving very little left for romantic relationships.  “My mother doesn’t understand why I can’t find a man and says it is probably because I am always working,” adds Shonda. She starred in the past season of the Bravo network’s “Millionaire Matchmaker” program, a reality show where dating expert Patty Stanger sets up wealthy men and women. “I’m at the age were I don’t want to settle,” says Shonda, emphasizing that the man of her dreams doesn’t have to have all of the qualities on her wish list, only most of them. Children would be welcome, however she feels her biological clock has almost run out. Surrogacy or adoption are options she would consider if the natural way fails. “It all depends on if I find that certain someone who comes along and everything works out favorably, but I won’t give up because you never know what will happen in the end.”

By Lauren Clarke-Bennett

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