About our Nominee
Lisa Newell has shared her talents for 19 years in Gulf Breeze, through the Gulf Breeze Newspaper and Splash! Magazine. She is both the owner and publisher of both. She loves to learn more about our community and it’s people. Lisa takes pride in our area and makes sure that she puts the spotlight on how special and amazing it really is to live here. She is an honest and hardworking woman, starting her companies from scratch, not knowing where to start. Her and her friend took an idea and took off with it, creating two wonderful and successful businesses.
Q & A
Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career/owning your business?
I’ve always been interested in news, even as a child. When I got older, I got a degree in journalism from the University of Florida, and I worked in journalism. My career took me to other side jobs, as well as computers that were installed for newspapers. I traveled around the country doing that for quite a while, installing systems that they would use for getting the newspapers out electronically.
Then, we moved to Florida. I’m originally from Texas, but we had to Gulf Breeze when I was a teenager before leaving to pursue my career. After my husband and I came back in 1992, I started working for an ad agency. Eventually, after I had my second child, I went to work at Gulf Breeze Sentinel. I tried so hard to get a job there. I needed a job that I could remain close to my children and wanted to be in journalism. They told me I was over-qualified. I ended up getting a job in sales and I loved it. It was so much fun and I got to know everyone in town. I got to be with my kids too. It was a wonderful experience. I also made good money too.
After working there 5 years, the parent company of Gulf Breeze Sentinel decided they were going to close the Sentinel. I had a lot of contracts for people who were interested in advertising in a local newspaper. So, I decided, with the help of my friend Vici Papajohn, that we were going to start a newspaper. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. That was the thing about it. We moved forward and got a huge response. People wanted to be involved and subscribers. We would only sell 6 month subscriptions at first, because we weren’t sure we could do it.
We started after 9/11 had happened. Our first issue came out on 10/11. Everything was locked down. Then, we missed getting into the phone book, which was a big deal back then. Then, when we finally in the phone book, they mis-alphabetized our name. So, we had a bunch of stuff going wrong. Fortunately, we still had a lot of results, because we had a lot of connection with the community. So, it turned out to be a really great thing and we did very well. Every year we doubled our revenues, until Hurricane Dennis, then we had the oil spill and the recession. It has been a struggle. There are a lot of things competing for advertising dollars. There are so many options. We have made it through though.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Navarre?
I lived here originally in 1977, when I was in high school. Then, I moved away after I went to college. My parents went back to Texas and I moved with them. Then I moved to New Hampshire, then to California, and moved back here after I got married. We actually originally moved to Panama City when we got married in 1987. We moved back to Gulf Breeze in 1992.
Q: Who is the most interesting person/business owner you’ve met here in Gulf Breeze/Navarre? Who would you like to see nominated as a Face of Gulf Breeze/Navarre?
There are so many. It’s hard to come up with, because there are so many deserving people. I did just see Ron Ruben, a really nice and interesting guy. He owns Ruben Surveying. Also, Trey Manderson, he’s a great guy. I see people all day, so it’s hard to pick.
Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people starting their own business?
I told you I started my business not knowing what I didn’t know. I found out that it’s probably easier to buy an established business, because there are so many decisions that have to be made. Where are you going to be located? What furniture are you going to get? You have get insurance, internet, all these questions that you need answers to. So many decisions are made on the fly too. Once they are made, it’s very difficult to change.
So, starting from scratch and having to make those systems is very difficult. But, again, if you can buy and established system, I think you’d be better off. I didn’t do it that way and we’ve had to live with some decisions. Some were good, some I would have changed them if possible. Also, follow your own instincts. If you follow someone else’s vision, you may fail. You can easily follow the wrong path.
Q: What current/former local business makes you the most nostalgic about (or what is most iconic in) Gulf Breeze/Navarre?
We were just talking about how much we miss Aegean Breeze. It’s been closed for over a year. We’re in Harbourtown, so it’s a place we used to go for meetings. We’d see everyone and the food was fantastic. It was so delicious. There are so many great memories there. Also, the Cornicopia. That place had the best sandwiches. It was over by the Methodist Church’s children’s area in Gulf Breeze Proper. It’s gone now though.
Q: Where do you see yourself (and your career/business) in 5 or 10 years?
I hope we’re doing well. I feel like we’re in the middle of an resurgence, actually. A lot of people are getting fed up with news on social media. You used to be able to look at the National Inquirer and say you know there’s no “Bat Boy.” But now, all the sensational news is mixed in with actual news and it’s exhausting. I do keep Facebook and it’s important to keep our presence there, however, I do think people are really getting really tired of it, and also, our coverage is hyper local.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Gulf Breeze/Navarre, and what do you love there? (What is your favorite dish, and where do you get it?)
I do love Grand Marlin. When you go, you know you’re going to get a great meal. I always get the swordfish. Oh, I love it. It’s so good. That is really my favorite restaurant. If we have any special event, we go there.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
I have been really wanting to go camping, but it’s been too hot. I’ve just had a craving to go into the woods. I don’t have a lot of experience with it. Maybe North Georgia. I could go up into the hills and see some of it. That’s really what I’ve been wanting to do, is go out into nature. I would take an RV over a tent though. I like having a place to shower.
Q: What is your favorite movie OR what is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
The first movie I remember seeing in a movie theater is “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” It was rated M for mature audiences and I was way too young at the time. I remember being totally shocked. I also remember seeing “The Green Berets.” One movie we watch over and over as a family, and it gets funnier the more you watch it, is “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” It’s so hilarious.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
I have so many things I have to do every day, so I don’t make a lot of long term plans. I would like to win the lottery though!
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Gulf Breeze/Navarre?
The people. The people here are so fantastic. You can tell a difference when you go somewhere else. People aren’t as nice everywhere else. We also have a wonderful breeze here.
Q: Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative: with whom would you love to have lunch? Why?
There are a lot of people that I would love to see what they’re all about. But, I would have to meet someone related to news. Anyone that would be high up in news and maybe a politician really.
Q: What is your favorite music or 3 bands that you would love to see live?
Bruce Springsteen is my favorite. I love him, but I’ve never seen him live. I like most of his music. I also would really like to see Sara Bareilles. She has a beautiful voice. I’ve seen the Eagles and Jimmy Buffett a bunch of times.
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I was in Jaws 2. A lot of people around here were actually in it. It was filmed in Navarre and Fort Pickens.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Of course my family. Also my pets and my bed.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
I would pick someone unknown. I’m tired of seeing the same actors and actresses in everything. Some unknown star would be great.
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that was fully paid for, who would you choose? Chef, Housekeeper, Driver, Coach, Physical Fitness Trainer, or Nanny?
I would pick a physical fitness trainer, I can do everything else myself.
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Be sure to check out what our other nominees had to say!