While some people dream about starting their own business to create generational wealth for their children, others like Robert and Tammira Lucas have done so, and are continuously working to make this a reality. To date, these Baltimore natives have five businesses between them, including a car dealership, co-work space, property maintenance company, business consulting company, and multiple real estate investments. Adding to their success, Tammira recently completed her doctoral dissertation in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship and is a step closer to being Dr. Tammira Lucas. They accomplished this all with no blueprint or financial inheritance. They are both first-generation serial entrepreneurs who attribute their success to hard work, sacrifice, and support of each other’s passions. It’s no surprise that their motivation to succeed is to provide a good life for their daughter, Ryann, so that she can inherit generational wealth that will afford her the opportunity to position herself for a successful career of her choice.
Black Enterprise caught up with the Lucases to learn more about their journey as serial entrepreneurs.
How did you get your starts in entrepreneurship?
Tammira: I started my journey as an entrepreneur seven years ago. When I birthed my daughter, I birthed my first business, Ryann’s Closet. Ryann’s Closet was a custom children’s accessory line, which was inspired by my daughter because she was born without any hair. As I started to create one-of-a-kind accessories, other moms would stop me and ask me where I purchased my daughter’s hair accessories from and I started to make them for others.
Robert: In high school, I began designing custom T-shirts and I grew as an entrepreneur from there.
Prior to being entrepreneurs, what type of work were you performing?
Tammira: Prior to being an entrepreneur, I was a research analyst for the City of Baltimore. I worked with data to ensure funding was being spent correctly while having a positive impact on the community.
Robert: Prior to being an entrepreneur, I was “The Cable Guy.” I worked for Comcast for four years installing and troubleshooting residential cable.
How did you prepare for full-time entrepreneurship?
Tammira: I didn’t really prepare for full-time entrepreneurship. I actually went through a traumatic time in my life losing my brother in a motorcycle accident and I was at the point where I needed to live my fulfilled life. My fulfilled life consisted of me working for myself and taking risks for my family and myself. I knew I had a great education and experience with helping others succeed in business so I took a chance and bet on myself.
Robert: I studied other companies prior to starting mine. I studied their systems, customer service, and leadership techniques that I could implement in my own business. Once I was let go from my job, I knew I would never work for someone else again and I would take everything I learned from other companies and implement them into my business. I jumped off the cliff and built my wings on the way down!
What sacrifices have you made collectively to ensure that your businesses succeed?
Tammira: Collectively we have sacrificed time, sleep, money, and relationships. What has always remained the same is our love for one another. Being entrepreneurs together with very different businesses is hard. There are times when he has to work extremely late and I am off very early and vice-versa but we know that our ultimate goal is not just about money but about wealth and these sacrifices now will lead us to our ultimate goal.
How challenging is it to manage multiple businesses?
Tammira: It’s very challenging. We made some huge and expensive mistakes in the beginning but we quickly realized that our success was dependent on the team we build.
How do you balance marriage, business, and parenthood?
Robert: God. Truly the science to all that we do is our deep belief in God. Everything we do we pray and allow him to guide us. He has been able to teach us how to make time for each part of our life. We also know how to separate each sector of our lives. We make time for each other and our daughter. More importantly, we are all (including the kid) involved in the business, which is a huge key to our success of balance. Since we know what each of us are doing and how our business operates we understand how to plan our time and respect each other’s time.
Describe what supporting each other in business looks like for the two of you.
Robert: Whatever it takes for my wife to be successful in her business I am there. Whether she needs me to hammer a nail or pick my daughter up from school and take her to ballet, I am there. I enjoy seeing my wife being successful, on the cover of magazines or on TV. When she’s in her element and thriving, I am thriving.
Tammira: I am the behind-the-scenes person for my husband. When it comes to helping him do paperwork or marketing, such as designing flyers, I am there to give him ideas and help him execute his plan. I am also constantly motivating him and challenging him to do things he never thought he could do. Honestly, I am up most nights thinking of his business when he doesn’t think I am.
What advice would you give to other couples who are entrepreneurs and want to ensure that neither their relationship nor businesses are jeopardized in the process of building greatness?
Robert: Communication is the key to everything. The more the lines of communication are open the better you are able to handle both your business and your family. You have to always remember what matters the most and family time is a must! Money can’t replace the time with your family. If you set this tone in your business early, then your employees, customers, and investors will respect your chain of what’s important to you.
What’s next for the Lucas brand?
Tammira: We are exploring media opportunities such as a YouTube channel so that others can see what goes on in our lives behind the scenes. We are also planning to expand our business into family-fun entertainment locations.