It's not often that I get someone that lives in another city that contacts me for a photoshoot. I'm often skeptical because it doesn't always sound legit. I got an email from a random guy in Houston about coming to Memphis for a photoshoot and I knew it was a scam. We talked back and forth for about a month or so and the day of the shoot, he had to cancel due to some travel issues. I thought instantly it wasn't real. I get a text a week later from the guy saying that he would be in town for an H-Town concert in Mississippi and he wanted to shoot. Little did I know, it was Brandon "Big Bee" Stewart, owner of Next Level Automotive in Houston, TX. The shoot went so well that I had to ask him a few questions because he was just that interesting of a person. 

You were recently in Memphis. I would love to think you traveled here just to shoot with me, but how was your experience in the Bluff City?

After working with you I would definitely tell anybody it would be worth the trip to shoot with you for sure. The professionalism and good time alone is worth it lol, but I travel on tour with a friend of mines who manages the legendary musical group “Htown”. It’s really interesting for me because cars has always been by hobby music was my passion and i grew up listening to these guys and so many other artists I’ve met while being on tour with them and it’s all a great learning experience for me. It’s almost like I’m a student in the game and everybody feels like family and they embrace me like so and that alone is worth the trips to the various cities we travel to and seeing the excitement of people hearing there songs and still embracing there music after so many years. That inspires me because they have an impact that has lasted a lifetime on people

As for my experience in the city, it was amazing and emotional. I got to try out Gus’s famous chicken, which was amazing to me. Way better than KFC or Popeyes’s HAHA. In addition, I had a chance to visit the Martin Luther King Jr memorial and the Civil Rights Museum, which were very moving and emotional at the same time.

You're the owner of Next Level Automotive. How did that come about and what does next Level Automotive provide?

I would like to say myself GOD and my friends that help me on a daily basis we all own Next Level because there are so many working parts to it that we all help with that would never get done without each other’s assistance. Next Level came about because originally I wanted to do a business in Los Angeles and the letters of the company “NLA” were perfect. I had worked in the automotive industry in Houston for years and wanted to test the waters in California for a breath of fresh air, but GOD must’ve wanted me to stay grounded in Houston first even though later we did open a shop in Los Angeles too.

I'm sure you've seen just about every car, but which car is your favorite and why? Any car have sentimental value to you? Is there a dream car you'd love to have?

I’ve definitely seen a lot of cars and it’s so hard to really pick one but i definitely like what Mercedes had done with the S classes. They always bring that car out and it changes the car game instantly. The technology they put in those things are amazing to say the least. It is “that” car to get and compete with. For sentimental value, the car I would list would be the green 97 Honda Civic I had in high school, which for me really stated it all. It was the car I fixed up. It had four tvs, four 12s, and 17 inch rims which was really a big deal back then. It made people ask me and my friends what could they do their cars to make it look nice. So people trusted my advice early on and that was motivation there to do more. A dream car would be a Rolls Royce Drophead for me. That car is just massive and like a boat on the land but I love the details and interior space. All of my friends can fit in there comfortably with no problem and we ain’t little at all! HAHA

 How are you or Next Level involved in your community in Houston?

Next level is for sure involved in the community. I are constantly working with various outreach programs. Mainly in the school system where we take the time to talk to students and encourage them and in addition we give back with local food drives during the holidays and even take time to go feed the homeless.

I've lived in Houston before and found it to be almost too big of a city. How would you compare Houston to Memphis?

Man, in comparison, I would for sure say Memphis is more quiet and less busy than Houston and that’s a compliment HAHA. It’s had a real southern feel when I came to the city and things seemed to move at their own pace and l liked that. In Houston everything moves pretty fast to me. Memphis made me feel like this is a place to where you can take your time and take the whole experience in.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to start their own business?

The advice I would give to anyone that’s wants to start there own business is believe in yourself before anything else. There will be times were people will doubt you and your ideas and it’s not because they are trying to be mean or not supportive, they just don’t understand your vision and that’s ok too. I have conversations with my friends all the time about the different mindset you have to have. A corporate mindset versus a entrepreneur mindset are night and day. So if your talking to a person who as worked for someone all there life, it’s hard for them to grasp some of the ideas or risk you have to take as a entrepreneur. I would definitely suggest you talk to people who understand your vision and path your trying to embark on in order to get good advice. Then above all trust in the Lord, pray and be faithful and your dreams will come true

        You can check out more of Brandon on IG HERE. When he travels around the country, he looks for a lock photographer in each city. When I asked him how he even found my info, he told me it was via Instagram and the hashtag #memphisphotographer. So you other grammars out there, use those hashtags! People actually look at them!

Life is For Living,

Michael B.