By Katie Fallon
While some may have a stereotypical image of the Buckhead mom as playing tennis and shopping at Lenox Square, two local mothers have gone beyond that image to create a valuable community resource for their peers.
Jamie Moussa, 38, and Lee Llewellyn, 42, both moved to Buckhead with their families in 2005 and ran into one particular problem. They had a hard time figuring out who to turn to for reliable service for things like pediatricians, tutoring, landscaping and interior decorating. Because they were new to the area, they did not know what companies had a good reputation or what mechanics would treat them fairly.
The women, however, inadvertently found a solution through their children.
“[Lee’s] daughter Ryan and my son Luke met in carpool at Morris Brandon Elementary School and got to be good buddies and then we met and hit it off,” Moussa said.
Llewellyn said that when the two moms would commiserate about acclimating in their new hometown, they realized they were in the same boat.
“We both came here around the same time,” she said. “You had to make the calls to the same neighbors you just met and ask if they have a good pediatrician. You get the really important stuff first, but you feel bad going back to the same people for help.”
If anyone, though, knows about acclimating to a new city, it was Moussa and Llewellyn.
Moussa’s family, which includes husband Bernard and seven-year-old son Luke, has moved eight times in 10 years and came to Atlanta after spending six years in London, England. Llewellyn’s family, which includes husband Carl, seven-year-old daughter Carson and eight-year-old daughter Ryan, has moved five times in seven and a half years and came to Atlanta from New Jersey.
Llewellyn said the women talked and eventually decided that they would go out and compile the information they needed by surveying their neighbors. Without any prior publishing or writing experience, the duo formed New Friends Publishing and published what is now the 2007-2008 Guide to Buckhead.
“The great thing about this is although we don’t have the career in publishing, we have the life experience,” Llewellyn said. “We knew from experience what people needed.”
The Guide for Buckhead features 112 pages of listings culled only from referrals from people who have used the listed service or business. The guide also includes paid advertisements, but those too can only come from businesses that have been referred to Llewellyn and Moussa.
To be listed in the guide is free and in the last year, the women of New Friends Publishing sold the guides for $12.95 to local real estate agents and retailers. Although a new 2008 edition is in the works and will be released in free direct mailings in January, the first guide can still be ordered online at www.theguidenfp.com.
The ladies said they were initially looking for employment or to even start their own business. With their children in school, they had the time to devote to such a venture and said their families were supportive of their idea for the guide.
“Previously, I could never get a job anywhere because we were never somewhere long enough for me to do something,” Moussa said. “We knew we liked each other. We knew we got along. We knew we had similar interests and we knew we wanted to do something together.
Now, Llewellyn said the response to the guide from the community has been quite supportive as well. She said although it was intended for Buckhead newcomers, the guide has received a tremendous response from native Atlantans who need such referrals due to life changes or simply because they are not happy with the companies they currently do business.
The new guide, which can be pre-ordered on the pair’s website, will feature new categories and mostly new referrals. What has not changed, though, are the two women behind the guide. Llewellyn and Moussa still collect the referrals and compile the guide on their home computers and send the book to be published in South Carolina. They admitted that they did receive some advice from their husbands.
“They were incredibly helpful with the corporate side of things,” Moussa said.
The ladies’ venture has even inspired their children. Moussa said her son now wants to publish a book of jokes. If he collects 100 jokes, his mom has promised to publish his book for him.
For more information, visit www.theguidenfp.com.