It wasn’t until I got my first 'office' job that I knew that’s exactly where I DIDN’T want to be for the rest of my life.
I snagged my first job as an event coordinator, which is when I really fell in love with organizing and running events. For me, it opened a lot of doors and I met a lot of amazing, iconic people, but after a bit I definitely felt I needed more. I started looking for my next, and in the back of my mind, I set a goal while at Essence Music Festival that I NEEDED to work with the brand at some point in my life. Four years later, I landed a gig there.
Working in NYC in your early 20s will expose you to a lot. Especially in the entertainment/publishing/fashion industries – you begin meeting a lot of people who are in your age bracket who are doing some amazing things they created from scratch. Although my father owned his own business, I saw the good and bad of working for yourself and it was honestly something that I never consciously wanted for myself. But the deeper I got into the scene and even my own professional career and the more truths I learned about working for “the man,” I started to really see that you’re basically screwed either way.
I had done a few events for friends (such as fashion shows and artist showcases) here and there and enjoyed them, but once I realized I was in this world dictated by tenure employees who didn’t want to hear my ideas for fear of losing their own relevance, I knew I would have to take things into my own hands. I learned very quickly how insanely important networking would be on a personal level, as well as a professional being.
Networking will give you opportunities that you didn't even know existed.
Once I realized that just talking, connecting and not being shy to share your abilities was a major key alert, you couldn’t tell me nothing!
My connections got me paid and began shining the light on what a relevant side hustle could bring me. I had always bartended and waited tables on the side, but making your side hustle something that you love — this makes the additional hours after the nine-to-six not really feel like work. I did this for four years until I felt that “I need more” feeling again. This time for my “more,” I took it back to my first loves — art and music. With music, I grew up playing several instruments and found a sanctuary in music for a lot of low and high points in my life.
A guy I was dating at the time put the idea in my head that I should try DJing. He told me my love/music knowledge was above the norm and I should test it out – so I did. I found myself at a Scratch Academy event in summer ’15, and they were teaching anyone interested a quick lesson in DJing. I jumped on the turntables and everything just felt right. I decided I would enroll in a three-month program for that fall.
I felt like this was a great time for me to enter the industry given the sudden rise in the popularity for women DJs. My only regret is I wish I knew earlier so I could have started much earlier, but I don’t let that idea deter me from my current goals. I want to contribute talent and music knowledge to the current pool. I don’t want to be the girl who just shows up with a playlist and can’t set up equipment or doesn’t even put her headphones on. Fellow DJ Tiff McFierce once told me about "respecting the craft" and it has stuck with me during this journey. Music is a very serious thing to me, and I just want to bring humans and dope music together because it saves lives. Because of my background in marketing and events, I do have an advantage of knowing how the industry works, knowing some amazing people, having experience with venues and knowing how people generally like to party.
Ideally, I would love to team up with an artist and tour with them. The connections I made through networking really paid off because I’ve been able to find my first gigs through them. Some of these opportunities have been pretty big for me just starting out.
If I have learned anything in this process it's:
- Just try it out. What’s the worst that can happen? That you love it?
- Don’t be scared of what you love having the possibility of being great.
- If you want to be great, it’s going to take time, work and consistency.
- What you put out in the universe will materialize.
How do you do this? Write down your goals and three steps to achieve them. Break up your goals into quarters for the year, and hold yourself accountable to them by checking in frequently.
I’ve honestly been very fortunate to have a lot of people around me who believe in me and are willing to give me a shot.
I take nothing for granted and plan to grasp every opportunity I receive and make the best of them.
I’m not perfect, I’m still learning, and I know I have a long way to go to get to what I envision for myself as a DJ, but I plan to take this week-by-week, appreciating the unknown while walking in faith.