Amanda Lewan

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Amanda is not only the type of person to inspire your career goals, but she’ll make you want to be a better person, too. Her incredible outlook on life has taken her on a path she never planned to go down, but it’s one which fits right into her life purpose. She’s a giver, a cheerleader, and an inspiration.

She’s hit remarkable milestones in her career including co-owning her own business (Bamboo Detroit), being one of Crain’s 20 in their 20s, being an award-winning writer, receiving the Most Valuable Millennial award from Corp! magazine, written a 1st place piece in a national essay contest, and more – all while being under 30 years old.

She’s a true Detroit Boss Babe, bringing entrepreneurs and freelancers together in the city and offering not only a place to work, but a community to turn to. It is her genuine, passionate personality that inspired us to share her story. Click here or read on to hear Amanda’s perspective on careers, motivation, and frustrating moments.

Beyond Brunch (BB): Growing up, what did you want to become or think you would be doing?

Amanda Lewan (AL): Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a writer. At about the age of 12, an English teacher read a poem that I wrote about my father out loud to the class. Something in that moment clicked for me. I felt connected to my purpose.

My parents were going through a very difficult divorce, and I realized I loved that through writing I could connect with others emotionally. I’m still a writer, but I never thought I’d also be a business owner. I realize now that both writing and Bamboo are two channels for me to unite people and to create more empathy in the world. That is my purpose.

BB: Who or what inspires you the most?

AL: A lot of entrepreneurs inspire me, both locally and nationally. Often, ones I share the same values with: community, inclusion, creativity. I am inspired by those who do good in the world and are fully themselves.

BB: What was one of the most frustrating, almost gave up, moments you’ve had in your career? How did you pull yourself through it?

AL: All of the most painful moments are lessons for growth. One of the toughest moments I faced was getting laid off from my first job. I was always a straight A student. I always worked hard and did well. I was thrilled when I got my first full time job at a startup advertising agency, especially happy to find a job during the heart of the recession.

Soon on, I realized it was not the right fit for me. The culture was very stressful. The values of the organization and leadership did not align with mine. I remember stepping outside to calm myself down while having my first panic attacks. Then, after almost two years I was laid off. I felt like I had failed. I went home that weekend and cried and moped over the loss. Then, I spent that summer writing my thesis, the first time I had really had time to write.

I ended up freelancing, which grew into an independent income and led to my meeting my partners and starting Bamboo. I never had a panic attack again. I learned so much at the agency that I was able to freelance. It all did work out, but at the time I felt so scared and disappointed.

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“Don’t hold yourself back. I never thought I’d own a company, and bootstrap it. Now, I try to hold myself to bigger, bolder visions. Women have a lot of talent and not always a lot of role models in the business world. Find mentors. Be brave, and go out there.” 

BB: What does passion feel like?

AL: It’s that feeling in your gut when you know something is right. It’s enthusiasm, feeling excitement and joy. You won’t feel excited and joyful everyday, but almost, when you live your passion and are honest with yourself.

BB: What keeps you motivated during a particularly tough week?

AL: Remembering my “why” and remembering the people I serve. These help ground me. When I’m feeling sad or stressed, I remember that my work is important.

We need more unity in today’s world. We need people inspired and starting companies, living their lives fully. Through Bamboo, we provide office space, community and support to empower others. It can be life changing and that always re-inspires me. I sometimes find on those days too, if I listen, someone will remind me how we’re helping them. That means the world.

BB: What’s your favorite place to go to in Detroit?

AL: I love so many places in Detroit. Besides my business Bamboo, it would be my grandmother’s house on the East side of Detroit. She’s lived in this house for over 50 years.

She has a beautiful garden that we’ve expanded into what we call our own urban farm, Hadad Farms. I love that side of my family for their resilience, strength, and wit.