We had the good fortune of connecting with Lea Gutierrez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lea, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I am born and raised in Southern California. I have lived all over So Cal, San Antonio TX, Northern California and Las Vegas. I love moving and I LOVE change.
I am the granddaughter of a successful banker (entrepreneur) who was the founder and CEO of Sterling Bank with 7 branches all throughout Southern California. From the age of 9, I began accompanying my grandfather to work anytime I could. Every spring break, summer break and winter break, you would find me at his bank. During my younger years I had a desk setup alongside his secretary and I would type up “important” documents on the typewriter. As I grew older, my tasks grew with me and I would perform duties throughout the branch. This experience made me realize a few things as a kid,- 1 – I wanted to have a boardroom and I wanted my photo hanging in it – 2 – I wanted to be important and recognized. As I walked through the branch everyone jumped into place because they knew me as the CEO’s granddaughter. It was quite the status. for a young girl – 3 – Whatever I did, I wanted my family to be involved and I wanted to change the lives of others. My grandfather shaped my life when he allowed me to accompany him. I want to do that and be that for others.
My mother was also an entrepreneur and she hussled hard. She opened a children’s clothing store when I was young and I worked every chance I got. I would iron clothes, checkout customers and organize the shop.
I have always had entrepreneur blood pumping through my veins. I’m not good at taking orders or working for others. I enjoy being creative, the mastermind and the problem solver.
What should our readers know about your business?
Lea Lana’s Bananas is a gift delivery service in Las Vegas featuring Gourmet Frozen Banana Pops, delivered 6 days a week. We also offer a very bright and cheery Banana Shop that you can visit and enjoy a delicious banana treat; everything from Frozen Banana Pops to the largest list of Banana Splits in Las Vegas. We offer a Banana Cart for rent for events such as birthday parties and corporate events. We have an ongoing contract with Wet n’ wild to serve frozen bananas all summer long at the waterpark from our large Banana Cart stand.
I began this adventure on a mission to spread happiness one banana at a time. I am a natural born people pleaser and love to make and see others smile. There are lot’s of reasons to let life get the best of you, and if I can take that away for just a few minutes and make you smile, you might turn around and make someone else smile. Happiness is contagious and I truly believe that the world could use some more of that.
I beam with excitement anytime I read a review that mentions spreading happiness. It confirms that my message is getting out there and that makes me proud.
My mission statement reads “Customers will leave happier than they arrived. Callers will hang up happier than when they called. Deliveree’s will close the door happier than they answered it. And employees will make this possible because they are happy to work here.”
Was it easy? Absolutely not. Nothing great is every easy. From near fail Banana Cart events, to a brick n mortar that I struggled to open (to opening and shutting down 1 week later for Covid19) , I have fought, and fought hard every step of the way.
I got to where I am today (only 3 years into the business) by working my a$$ off. I began my business by offering products for free and popping up everywhere I possibly could. I attended every networking event, joined community events and just put myself out there. I worked endlessly, day & night, every day of the week. I spent every waking hour at the Banana Shop during the buildout and opened my doors one week prior to the governor shutting us down. I sent all of my employees home and worked by myself 14 hours a day / 7 days a week for all the months of covid. I am proud of how hard I work and hope that my work ethic is noticed by my workers. I can never expect them to work as hard as I do, but even if they gain some of it, we will be better for it.
I never viewed any challenge as something I couldn’t overcome; it simply became a problem that needed to be solved and I love solving problems.
Some of my biggest lessons along the way include – Never take anything personally. Always communicate. Listen well. Learn, learn everything you can. Never stop reading and listening to podcasts. Wake up early and stay focused on what you want to accomplish.
In 2020 I won Best of Las Vegas in the most difficult to win competition they have ever had due to the number of votes received. 2020 was my biggest year yet and in the middle of a pandemic.
I want the world to know that Lea Lana’s Bananas values your happiness and truly wants to see you smile. I want to give you a fun and cheerful place to visit when you need a dose of happiness. I want you to know that when you send a gift box of bananas that we are going to go above and beyond to make it the greatest gift experience the receiver has ever had and that we will communicate along the way.
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?
I absolutely love my city of Las Vegas and enjoy showing it off to anyone who visits. Visiting Vegas today is a bit different than it was this time last year so I’m going to take us into the future. I would hope that they were visiting during the summer months because those are my favorite.
We have some of the best restaurants on the planet and I love sharing them. My favorite restaurant in all of Las Vegas is Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres. It’s a very classy butchers shop with meals that will have you licking the plate and drinks that will give you the courage. I love Egg Slut for breakfast. Fleming’s on Charleston as a favorite locals hangout where everyone knows your name. Fiesta Mexicana for some original style Mexican food and the best margaritas in Vegas (family owned). North Italia and Honey Salt are two little gems in the same parking lot and a constant go-to for me. I also enjoy SW Steakhouse at the Wynn, the food is exceptional and the water show is a fun evening experience.
My favorite show is Absinthe; rude, crude and sure to make you laugh (unless you are easily offended). Rose.Rabbit.Lie was a favorite place to eat for the dinner and show experience but I have heard they aren’t coming back. So sad.
I would definitely show my guest around Lake Mead – such a big and beautiful lake. We spend every day possible there during the summertime. We would visit More Beach Club because who doesn’t love a toptional pool, with a fantastic DJ and delicious drinks.
I’m not much of a shopper or night clubber but can make some great suggestions if you are into that. I’m more of a sunshine soaking, day drinker who eats a good dinner and goes to bed before midnight. lol Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
That’s easy for me, my husband, Joey. From the moment he has entered my life, I have grown leaps and bounds. He helped me to overcome anger issues and become a much better communicator in life. He has supported me every step of the way, encouraged me when I had an ounce of doubt and he has offered his shoulder many times when things got tough. He always challenges me and pushes me to get better. I would not be who I am today without him in life.