by Jesma Reynolds
photograph by Geoff Wood
Founder and owner of personal healthcare provider More Than Nurses in Raleigh, Lekita Essa considers her clients an “extension of her family.” Her busy schedule involves visiting them at home and in the hospital, coordinating her 60-plus employees, and maintaining an active philanthropic, social, and cultural life. With a big heart and a bold approach to style, Essa wears distinctive but classic clothes that work for all of it. Shopping locally whenever possible, Essa lives downtown and enjoys walking to restaurants, galleries and performing arts nearby. “I love the energy.”
Essa chooses fashionable clothes that can transition from day to evening. She prefers dresses, and adds an edge to her look with accessories. “I love vintage jewelry, especially from the ’50s.” One of her favorite finds is a Chanel vintage cross necklace. She’s not afraid of color, and her accessories are meant to be noticed: a taxi-yellow Balenciaga handbag, ornate Miriam Haskell necklaces and earrings, a sparkly sequin Anya Hindmarch clutch.
She says her parents were a great influence on her style. “Very attractive and always the best-dressed,” her Greek father and French mother had a sophisticated sensibility that is reflected in her name, which has Russian and French roots.
An active member of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox in Raleigh, Essa serves on the board of Philoptochos, which means “friends of the poor.” This women’s group gives money to nearly 30 local charities, including InterAct, Pretty in Pink, and homeless shelters, and raises money through an annual December bake sale. Not one to be found in the kitchen, Essa says, “I support the cooks. Everyone always says I’m the great consumer. For my Christmas gifts to clients and friends, it’s Greek pastries, spanikopita, you name it…where else are you going to get it?”
Her philanthropy also extends to other groups like the SPCA, and she is president of Beginnings, a nonprofit that supports families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
“It’s important to me to stay involved. It’s important to this community. I think that’s one of the reasons this community has really thrived – because people realize we need to support local people.”