Hello SwagHer Fam! This is Janet Downs, chatting it up w/ Quiana Gee, owner and operator of Lady Q Events and Designs Inc. and founder of Glam The Runway in Charlotte, NC. Thank you for allowing me some time in your busy day.
Janet: How’ve you been?
Quiana Gee: I’m good. Thank you for thinking of me and allowing me to be a part. You know 2020 kinda shut people down, but 2021 has been busy for me! Events are happening, birthdays are happening, weddings are happening, and it’s not small. LOL! I just finished doing a huge wedding last week, and Glam The Runway is coming up in a few weeks. It’s been a busy third quarter for me.
Janet: That’s great! That means business is booming! LOL! Let’s jump right in…….. What is your SwagHer?
Quiana Gee: Well, I love service and just being available to help out. Lady Q’s motto is, “We design unforgettable experiences by impacting lives forever.” It’s a trendy luxury event planning agency. I’m a technical project manager by trade. Lady Q Events is the fun side of project management. I like organization: I like to socialize and gather with people. I love to make people smile.
Janet: I live in Charlotte too, and I’ve seen your creations, which are absolutely beautiful, and I’ve attended Glam The Runway. We’ll definitely talk about that a little later, but right now, how did you get into designing? Like, when did you discover you had a passion for designing?
Quiana Gee: I’m gonna be honest with you. I’m going to take it all the way back to grade school. I always liked to design, and I loved to design clothes. I’d get an idea in my head and sketch it out. The older I got, I started creating décor concepts. I love flowers and making floral arrangements. Hobby Lobby is my go-to! LOL! I can spend hours in there! Once my clients give me their vision of what they want their day to look like, I’ll sketch it out and get my contractors to come in that has all of the stuff I need and tell them this is what I want to execute. How can you make this happen for me?
Janet: How long has Lady Q Events and Design, Inc. been in existence?
Quiana Gee: Almost ten years on paper (LOL!), but I was doing events low-key even before then, so I would say 13 years in the game. You know, blood, sweat, and tears. LOL! A lot of my clients come from word of mouth and referrals, and I’m grateful to God for that. I’m not yet where I have “A-listers,” but I have my own clientele. One of my goals is always to try my best to work within my client’s budget, but I have to be realistic with them. You know the cost of things in 1990 is not the cost of items in 2021 (LOL!)
Janet: What would you say has been your greatest inspiration when you’re designing?
Quiana Gee: My Aunt Ruby loves to decorate. She is my primary inspiration. She decorates for each season. During Christmas, her house looks like Christmas in Wonderland. Also, David Tutera, a celebrity fashion designer and wedding planner, and a few other designers that I follow on Instagram. I’m motivated by them.
Janet: Being that you’re a designer, how do you feel when people refer to you as a “black” designer? Does that matter to you?
Quiana Gee: I take pride in what my roots are. I don’t mind people knowing that I’m a well-known black designer from Charlotte. I was at a black wedding expo, and there were only black designers and vendors there, and I loved it! You don’t really see that a lot, and we don’t get a lot of exposure. I will say that I am a designer first. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I can run with the best. I definitely take pride in what I do and who I am.
Janet: As you know, we still live in a society where racism is alive and well. Have you ever faced discrimination? If so, can you tell me about it? How did it make you feel, and how did you handle it?
Quiana Gee: In this particular industry, I haven’t experienced that; knock on wood. I have had many ethnic groups inquire and use my services, and I’m grateful for that.
Janet: The pandemic has impacted so many lives in such a traumatic way—loss of loved ones, jobs, homes, so many different things. However, on the flip side, people have flourished, even during this awful pandemic. How has the pandemic impacted you and your business? What changes did you have to make?
Quiana Gee: Unfortunately, many of my clients postponed their weddings and other events due to COVID and venue closings. I definitely tried to stay relevant and positive by posting videos and giving tips on social media. I even did my own photoshoot for Christmas. LOL! People thought I had a make-up artist come in, but it was just me. I did my hair, and I grabbed a dress from the closet, stood by my tree, and took my own pictures. LOL! I did contract COVID in November but thank God it wasn’t that bad for me. I was alone, in my house, and I had to get creative. I had time on my hands. You know, 2020 taught me how to be more innovative, how to be more creative, how to be even better at what I do, how to upgrade my services, and how to level up even more.
Janet: What has been your most challenging design/event to date?
Quiana Gee: I can say the most challenging events are when there are lots of people and many personalities. Like, when I’m planning a large wedding. I always keep my client in mind. There may be a lot of opinions, voices, and personalities outside of who my client is, but at the end of the day, my focus is my client and what they want. As a business owner and woman of God, I have to know how to navigate the different personalities that I encounter.
Janet: It has always been said that people of color have to be better at whatever they’re doing than other cultures. Do you ever feel that pressure to over-achieve?
Quiana Gee: Yes. To be honest with you, I feel that we have to go that extra, extra mile, being a person of color and a woman. We have to work twice as hard. However, sometimes it’s not outside my race; it’s within my race. I may deal with some competitiveness, but I’m going to be me. I can hold my own. I don’t compare myself to others. God gives me what He feels I can handle. When He’s ready to increase me, hey, I’m going to be a willing vessel. LOL!
Janet: Fill in the blank……As a creative and a designer, I want people to recognize me for…..
Quiana Gee: My consistency. Being consistent means a lot to me. When people book Lady Q, they know that I’m consistent and will make it happen.
Janet: Creatively, designing for an event has to be very rewarding. Tell me about a time where you were like, “Doggone it, I did that! You go, girl!”
Quiana Gee: I’m going to be honest, there’s been a lot of those. LOL! I did an outside wedding in S.C. that would turn into a night reception. The lights, candles, the dance floor…….it just turned out beautifully; just breathtaking. I must toot my own horn for that one. Another one that comes to mind is creating the Garden of Gethsemane for Resurrection Sunday. I was like, how am I going to create the Garden of Gethsemane for this space? I pulled it off! I really did! When people walked into the sanctuary, they really felt like they were in a garden. They got the message through the design. I can really toot my horn on that one too, but I have many more I could talk about too! LOL!
Janet: Has there ever been a time where you had to turn down a client? If so, can you tell us for what reason?
Quiana Gee: Yes, I have and just recently. This quarter has been extremely busy for me, so December is going to be my self-care month. Self-care is very important. You have to know when to say no, and it’s ok. I had to learn that. I don’t have to take on every client. However, I may decide to take on a few clients who want me to decorate their homes for Christmas and maybe do some Christmas décor for the church, but that’s about it.
Janet: You’re not just a business owner/designer, right? What else do you do? Where did you attend college? As my brother used to say, what is your government gig? LOL!
Quiana Gee: You now know that I’m a technical project manager, but let me go back a bit. I’m originally from a small town called Timmonsville, S.C., and I’ll rep it until the day I die. LOL! I attended Timmonsville High School, graduated from there, went to the University of S.C., and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Information Management degree. Along the way, I’ve gotten several technical certifications, and I’m a scrub master. Yeah, I’m a little nerd. LOL!
Janet: October is soon approaching, which everyone knows is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That holds special meaning for me as my mom had metastatic breast cancer. She’s no longer physically here, but I celebrate her life and all the lives of those who are fighting, our survivors, and those who are no longer with us. Let’s talk about Glam The Runway. I absolutely love this initiative! Tell me about it, and where did your inspiration come from?
Quiana Gee: Well, my mom, Jannie, is a breast cancer survivor. I saw her go through chemo and radiation treatments, and I saw what that did to her. You know, losing her hair and the burns from the radiation, but I never saw her break down. She always tried to be strong for everyone else. She maintained her class and poise, and she came out on top. She kicked cancer’s butt. I wanted to be able to celebrate her and women like her. You know, they go through a lot. They lose their hair, their eyebrows, etc. I thought, how can I make them feel good? How can I make them feel beautiful?
Janet: How long has your mom been cancer-free?
Quiana Gee: She is almost 8 or 9 years in as a breast cancer survivor!
Janet: How long has Glam The Runway been in existence?
Quiana Gee: I birthed it in 2017 and had my first show in 2018. It’s a charity fashion show. We had 6 “Glam Elites”, who all are cancer survivors. Each “Glam Elite” can wear a designer’s fashion and rip the runway. Just to see the smiles and people cheering for them, reminding them how bad of a boss they are by beating cancer’s butt. I just can’t tell you how much that means to me. With Glam The Runway, I can honestly say that I’ve created a sisterhood. We check on each other, and during COVID, I had a Zoom check-in to catch up with them and see how they were doing and what they were doing. I want to continue being a breast cancer advocate.
Janet: How do you find your models? Is there a requirement?
Quiana Gee: Well, people nominate a cancer survivor by submitting their stories. I read their stories, and that’s how the “Glam Elites” are chosen.
Janet: So, Glam The Runway donates a portion of its proceeds to charitable organizations, right? What organizations have been past recipients? Can you tell us who will be this year’s recipient?
Quiana Gee: For the first year, we blessed Carolina Breast Friends. The following year, it was Angel in Disguise. This year, I’m thinking about being a blessing to an individual that’s really going through. You know the bills don’t stop just because they have cancer. I want to be led by the spirit as to who to bless this year.
Janet: How do you find sponsors to donate outfits for the “Glam Elites”? Are you looking for clothing designers in particular?
Quiana Gee: Not in particular. I’ll just send out a blast to see who wants to be a part. You know, letting them know it’s for a good cause. It’s so much fun.
Janet: When is this year’s Glam The Runway? How can people purchase a ticket?
Quiana Gee: October 16th in Matthews, N.C. at a venue called The View at Emerald Lake. You can purchase your tickets on EventBrite and just type Glam The Runway 2021. It should pop-up for you, or you can go to www.ladyqevents.com/glam-the-runway.
Janet: What is a fun fact that you would like to share about yourself?
Quiana Gee: Ummmm, what is a fun fact? LOL! Ok, I’m obsessed with my grass. LOL! My two sisters (I’m the middle child) jokingly call me Stanley from Friday. LOL! Like, you’re not walking on my grass. LOL! I take pride in my landscaping. Most women don’t do that. They let the men do that, but I love it. I like making my lawn and home look good.
Janet: As much as you love doing what you do, I’m sure even the creatives need to take a break sometime. LOL! How do you like to unwind?
Quiana Gee: I like to go to the spa. I love spa days. I love The Grand Bohemian Uptown. Spa and brunch. That’s all I need. LOL!
Janet: What’s next for Quiana Gee, Lady Q Events and Designs, Inc., and Glam The Runway?
Quiana Gee: I’m going to continue staying positive. I will continue being of service to others but still taking time out for self-care and making memories with my family. This year’s Glam The Runway is going to be special because I’m dedicating it to the memory of my grandmother, Lillie. I just lost her earlier this year. She never got to attend Glam The Runway, but she was always so supportive. She always told me how proud she was of me. I want Glam The Runway to be bigger and more impactful. That’s the agenda for 2021 and moving forward. Also, I can’t go without thanking my GTR committee. I want to thank my two sisters, Velonda and Sherita; along with Meriam, Ardie, and Tara. I couldn’t do this without them. Also, I have lots of volunteers to help make GTR a success. As far as Lady Q Events, I offer so many services, so it’s just best to go to my website, www.ladyqevents.com, and look at all the services that are available. If you’d like to have a consultation for your upcoming event, just contact me.
Janet: How can people reach you? Are you on all social media platforms?
Quiana, thank you so much for doing this! I wish you continued success and blessings! I’ll see you on the Glam The Runway stage! LOL!