By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
It’s an understatement to say that Rashada LeRoy, owner and founder of Birmingham-based LRY Media Group, is busy.
“I’m a grinder, so I wake up and just work straight through a day,” she said. “Before you know it, it’s midnight and I’m like, ‘Aw, shoot! I’ve been in this same spot working all day.’ But that’s what I love.”
LRY Media Group is an event-planning company that helps clients coordinate corporate and community affairs and navigate the evolving media landscape. It also does work with some nonprofit organizations and helps with events, such as music festivals. LRY, located downtown Birmingham, has three full-time employees and seven contractors.
In the past year, the company has handled more than 50 projects and is already booked for the first two months of 2019. Recently, LRY has assisted with some high-profile Magic City events.
LeRoy and her group worked on the Neighborhoods USA Conference (NUSA) in May and the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women’s (NOBEL Women’s) Annual Legislative Conference in June.
“NUSA was a great experience,” LeRoy said. “We got to meet neighborhood presidents from around the U.S., and we got a chance to talk to other neighborhood people about best practices and [what] they’re doing to uplift their communities.”
“Inspiration and Motivation”
Working on the NOBEL Women conference was one of the best experiences she’s had, said LeRoy, who founded her company in April 2017.
“NOBEL was a great project because, for one, it provided more inspiration and motivation,” she said. “Black women from around the U.S. [were at the event], … whether they were state representatives, judges, mayors. [Alabama Congresswoman] Terri Sewell and [former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman] Donna Brazile came through, and [there was] black girl magic everywhere. … To be in that space with those women for five days, nothing compares.”
The NOBEL conference was energizing for a number of reasons, LeRoy said: “I don’t hide the fact that I love being black and I love being a black woman. My ultimate mission is to support black women and what they want to do, especially as it relates to entrepreneurship and business.”
LRY also worked on Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s inauguration last fall and helped coordinate parts of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to Birmingham in April.
“Those two events … blew our minds just with the caliber of people who attended and the impact those events had on the community,” she said. “I’ve been grateful to be in this industry and handle everything from event design to production and all the logistics in between. We arrange transportation, catering, hotels. We manage budgets. We do anything and everything you can think of when it comes to an event. If something needs to be done, we’ll figure out how to get it done. That should probably be our tagline.”
LeRoy has been doing event planning for about 15 years, just not on her own. While working for Alabama Power Co. for six and a half years, beginning in November 2010, she planned events related to the Magic City Classic, as well as the building of playgrounds in Smithfield Estates and Roosevelt Park and other community projects. When she left her job at Alabama Power, she knew it was time to become her own boss.
“I decided that I wanted to branch out and be on my own again, and events were what I wanted to do,” LeRoy said. “I came up with a plan to build my client base, sat down with leadership, and said, ‘Hey, I really want to start my own business.’ The rest is history.”
LeRoy grew up in Dothan, Ala., with her mother and an older brother. She lived in Pensacola, Fla., for a few years before returning to Dothan.
She was raised around entrepreneurs. Her mother and grandfather owned their own newspapers—her grandfather owned the New American Press and her mother owned the Wiregrass Times—and her uncle owns OutFront magazine, which still operates today. Entrepreneurship is in LeRoy’s blood.
“I always thought I was going to be a leader,” she said. “Always in my mind I was CEO of something. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I always knew I would be over something. My grandfather, my mom’s dad, I think he had one job in his entire life, and … he knew he didn’t want to work for anybody. From that point moving forward, he always owned a business.”
While attending Northview High School in Dothan, LeRoy competed in track and field and beauty pageants.
“Pageants became an opportunity for me to gain my confidence,” she said. “Being on stage and talking in front of a lot of people was not anything I was used to. Then, when I got to the University of Alabama I did the Miss UA pageant and Miss Black and Gold, [a scholarship pageant held by UA’s Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. chapter]. That’s what I remember being into the most—anything that allowed me to be in front of people talking. It was a confidence booster.”
LeRoy majored in management information systems and joined several campus organizations, including the Triple A, the African American Association and the National Council of Negro Women. She became a member of the Lambda Zeta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. These organizations and networking prepared her for business.
“Anything we did on campus was an opportunity to network and engage, and that’s no different than what we do now with LRY Media Group,” she said. “Whether it is trying to get business or trying to keep business, even when we’re in the middle of an event, I’m always trying to do some sort of networking.
LeRoy graduated from UA in 2003 and got a job in computer programming before being laid off, a situation that led her to launch her own magazine, Upgrade: “We did it here in the city for about seven years; it focused on fashion and lifestyle.”
Ironically the magazine helped to start the events business.
“We started handling our own events [because] I couldn’t afford to pay somebody to put on the events, and we used the events as a way to promote the magazine,” she said.
LeRoy said she wants to do more than just put on events. She wants to inspire.
“I hope that what we do is inspirational. … I really hope people see me … and say, ‘Well, if she can do it, I can do it.’”
For more information visit www.lrymediagroup.com.