We had the good fortune of connecting with Jan Levie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jan, how does your business help the community or world?
At Handy Entertainment, we say “Everybody is at the table,” and mean it. Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of what we do. Some of the ways we address inclusion and diversity are in hiring. A year ago in March we began partnering with the Bobby Dodd Institute to build meaningful positions for people with disabilities. There are many kinds of disabilities–some that are obvious, and some that fall under the radar. Under- and unemployment are extremely high in the disabled community. Something as simple as maintaining eye contact in an interview, or only having the stamina to work a certain number of hours a day makes finding meaningful employment particularly difficult for people with disabilities. The work we create demands flexibility. That flexibility gives us the nimbleness to adapt not only what we do, but also how we can structure work. Another way to build diversity and inclusion is by making what we do accessible to more people. Our first cancellation due to the pandemic was to be our first event implementing American Sign Language. We wanted to underscore the importance of accessibility in the events industry. While submitting for grants and funding in April, I discovered that out of 19 employees, 17 were women, minorities, LGBTQ+, disabled, veterans, or a combination. The vast majority of businesses we partner with are owned by women, minorities, LGBTQ+ folk, veterans, or again, a combination. How did we create this environment? With intention. We’ve been members of the OUT Georgia Business Alliance (formerly Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce) since 2012, back before it was cool. I remember a conversation with my business consultant when I’d told him I was putting the AGLCC logo on my website. He said, “That might cause you to lose business.” I replied, “That’s too bad. That’s not the kind of business I want.” That’s the bottom line. What are your values? How do you treat people? Do you stand up for what you believe in? Do you stand up for others? Everybody is at the table.
What is it that you do? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What We Do. You are celebrating a milestone and sharing the most precious minutes and hours of your life with us. For corporate events, the stakes are equally high. We are given an awesome, rare, and daunting task–create meaningful and engaging entertainment that is unique and personal. Your event might call for customized Lip Cards, special costumes, messaging, or take-aways. Every one of our events and activations focus on creating a welcoming environment, putting people at ease, and connecting them with meaningful interactions. Our challenge is to produce an event that meets your needs that you’ve shared with us and even the ones you haven’t told us. What we do is similar to baking a different kind of cake for each event using different ingredients and a vision. As the world becomes more and more efficient and technology plays an increasingly prominent role in everything we do, my job is to create human connections. We bring people together and share a moment with them that is real, that is tangible, and is about them. That’s the bottom line–there is NO one recipe. That is what we love and what keeps me up at night.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If they understand English, I’d take them to Horizon Theater, Dad’s Garage, Actor’s Express, Out Front Theater Company. I love, love, love hiking and Atlanta and Georgia are perfect for it. The State Parks are glorious, and amazing from Arabia Mountain and its unique ecosystem to the Chattahoochee River where you can bike, hike, run, swim, kayak, or canoe. An unknown gem–a gorgeous Hindu temple, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, exquisitely wrought and amazing tours. An itty-bitsy treasure is the Paper Museum on the Georgia Tech campus. Galleries: Susan White Gallery, Mason Fine Art Gallery, Bill Lowe Gallery, Besharat Gallery Edgewood’s Mercantile Market near GSU: Arepa Mia! has the BEST arepas you’ll get in the States. Five Points: Aviva by Kemal–fabulous Middle Eastern food. Condessa Coffee near Georgia State University Alon’s Bakery – Virginia Highlands and across from Perimeter Mall Food Terminal South City Kitchen One of the best vendor meals I’ve ever had was at Hampton & Hudson, I love Moonbird Coffee in Chamblee for meetings! Lee’s Bakery has the best Banh Mi in the city–I’ll pick those up on my way to a hike. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and The King Center are must sees. Music–I love live music and there are loads of small clubs and bars and venues with live music. I could go on and on.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am grateful for all the support that the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and the Greater Women’s Business Council, the UGA Small Business Development Council, and the SBA have given us. Heartfelt thanks to The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the National Association of Catering and Events, and the International Live Events Association for the amazing opportunities. Most of all, thank you to my family.
Montoya Turner, Made You Look Photography, Jack Parada Photography, Cindy Brown, Brown Photography,