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Celebrating Black History Month 2024 with Jessie Frias of illuminico and WILD

February 14, 2024

Jessie Frias, WILD, Black History Month

By Jessie Frias

When I was asked if I would like to be featured in this month’s newsletter I had a couple of reactions. The first one was excitement, followed by anxiety, nervousness, and then fear. Initially I wanted to say no because of deadlines and the feeling that I would be adding yet another ball to my juggling act.

Being a single mom to a college freshman who is struggling with the pressures of her first year can be exhausting, adding to that acting as the healthcare proxy to my mom and the pressures of work, performing to the best of my abilities can be for lack of a better word a lot! So I decided to take the leap and said yes and here I am giving you all a little piece of who I am and my journey within the lighting industry. 

I find that humor is my superpower with a side order of sassy so get ready to get bits of that here…

I find that humor is my superpower with a side order of sassy so get ready to get bits of that here…So in order to get this started let me channel my inner Sophia Petrillo (Golden Girls reference for those who don’t know who she is). Picture it! The year is 1993, I’m a 22 year old college student working for a boxing promoter who happened to be one of the most abusive employers I ever worked for.

One day he had a problem with the fact that it was 10PM and my mother called me at work to make sure that I was ok, she was concerned I would be riding the subway home alone at night. During this brief call I was unavailable to my boss for approximately 30 seconds, his reaction was so over the top – it was that moment I made a decision to get out of that situation as soon as possible. The next day I got the ball rolling to do just that.

Back in the 90’s we didn’t have all the resources we have now to find employment, we used newspaper wanted ads. We used to get the NY Times at the office, I went to the classifieds and saw an ad for a receptionist position. I called, made an appointment and showed up to the offices of ELA to interview with Tom Sica. He was very kind and personable, he made me feel at ease; he also didn’t judge me for having very long dreadlocks, which was frowned upon at the time.

He let me know that he would not be hiring me as a receptionist because he felt I was a better fit working customer service for the Halo department. I had no clue what he was talking about but the pay was better and I could sense that it would be a healthier work environment so I accepted. Before I left his office, Tom said I will never walk into a room the same from that day forward because I will always notice the lighting…he was right!  

My intentions were never to stay in the industry this long. I thought I was going to be an actress, writer and possibly a fashion merchandiser and this was only temporary…HA!

My intentions were never to stay in the industry this long. I thought I was going to be an actress, writer and possibly a fashion merchandiser and this was only temporary…HA! Words I’m sure have never been said before by anyone else in the industry…Initially what kept me engaged was the fact the industry is loyal.

Once word gets around that you are good at your job, finding work becomes easy but even after doing it for a decade I still felt that this was not my calling. I did my best to stay under the radar because I wasn’t going to be here for long, why invest too much? But I guess by osmosis things just started to stick with me and talking about lighting became second nature.  

Over my career, I have worked at a variety of places – three of the most well known rep agencies in NYC, a lighting supply house, Schwinghammer Lighting, a manufacturer and two distributors. Now, back in distribution, at illuminico, I seem to have found my calling as I get to interact with all aspects of the industry and it can be fun to be involved in a project from inception to completion.

I have moved around a few times in my career which initially used to bother me because I just felt like I would be viewed as unstable but I am older and wiser now and I understand that sometimes change has to come in order to grow to be the best you for the world to see. 

Being a WILD member exposes me to so many dynamic women in this industry and I get to participate in this journey with them all.

Being a WILD member exposes me to so many dynamic women in this industry and I get to participate in this journey with them all. My favorite WILD event which was the financial literacy event a few years ago, thanks to that event I learned the importance of life insurance and It helped me see that I needed to make sure I had the right tools to take care of my daughter. I literally went and got life insurance the very next week after that event!

Lastly I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the wonderful people I have met in the industry I was so resistant to accepting as my own. I have met some of my best friends in this industry and that is one of the top reasons I am loving it here with no plan to leave anytime soon.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know me.

Sincerely, 

Jessie Frias

Business Development Representative at illuminico

& Dedicated WILD Member

More information available here

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