Yeung Lew: Wife, mom, entrepreneur

“I live an ordinary life,” says Becky Yeung Lew ’96, “with some extraordinary people who have made it awesome along the way.”

Lew’s life is ordinary only if by definition that means fast-paced, full of travel, and ever-evolving.

The Lew family: Steve, Kailey, Ashley, and Becky. (Photo by Katie Mitchell)
The Lew family: Steve, Kailey, Ashley, and Becky.
(Photo by Katie Mitchell)

Following her graduation with a psychology degree from Cornell, Becky spent a year working with at-risk teens at youth homes in Iowa City. Although she grew up in Ames and was familiar with Iowa winters, a particularly harsh one got her thinking about California, where her parents had met and where her grandmother and cousins lived.

“I knew my parents would eventually retire there, and I also knew this was an opportunity that might not be available if I stayed in Iowa,” she says of her decision to relocate.

Her first job in California was with Guess, the clothing merchandiser. She started as an administrative assistant at the corporate headquarters, and was promoted several times, ending up in a job managing accounts in retail stores that carried Guess clothing. It was in that position that she learned the nitty-gritty of fashion merchandising and arranging for point-of-sale space and signage in those stores. Then Coach recruited her as a merchandise coordinator with major responsibility for the Macy’s department store account.

After meeting and marrying her husband, Steve, she left Coach and went to Calvin Klein, where she also managed the Macy’s account.

“At both Coach and Calvin Klein, I was able to work from home, which cut down on my travel,” she says. “Steve and I wanted to have a family. After Ashley, our older daughter, was born, I wanted to invest my time in my family, so I decided to give up the travel to stay at home.”

Ashley, now 13, was followed 22 months later by Kailey, now 11. During their first years, Becky worked at their church in family ministry, but she felt something else calling.

“I felt that I needed a job that provided the flexibility to be with my daughters, but also enabled me to pursue my passion. That’s when I launched Becky Lew Photography.”

With more time for family, she’s had a chance to watch her daughters grow and blossom. Ashley started dancing at age 3. In the spring of 2016 she won an international dance competition that will allow her to study ballet in Monaco for the next four years.

“I tell them both that we want them to follow their dreams. Steve supported me when I started my photography business, and I want to support their aspirations,” she says.

Her decision to put out her photography shingle was prescient.

“The great thing about photography is you can be flexible with your schedule, which is more important to me now than ever. The next year will be a challenge, trying to juggle work with regular trips to Monaco,” she says. “I’m a wife and mother first, a photographer second.”

When she recalls her days at Cornell, Becky describes them as “the sweetest times.”

“I love Cornell and I love Iowa. The people are so genuine, so nice. If I have any advice for Cornell students, it would be ‘soak it up every second! Enjoy it!’”