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Sharon Elias
Black Tie Entertainment

AFTER graduating from UCLA in 1988 with a sociology/business degree, Sharon Elias soon concluded that her best options would be to either go back to school or go out on her own. During a brief stint catering parties around L.A., Elias realized that becoming a mobile disc jockey was right up her alley. Two years later, she opened Black Tie DJ Entertainment in Hollywood. Kristin Wilder spoke with Elias about what it takes to entertain in a city that knows how to party.

"While I was in school I worked in catering, and at every party I would look at the deejay and think, 'I could do that!' So I bought a system and started building a library of music. I had been to tons of parties and I basically taught myself how to 'mobile deejay.' I knew that I loved music and I knew what I liked at parties, so I thought it couldn't be that hard. I opened the service by myself in 1990.

"I am the only owner and employee, but I do use contractors. I give them all the party information and they go out and do the job representing my company. All of them have at least 10 years experience as deejays.

"I think that being a woman in this business really gives me an edge -- it's a really rare thing, especially in L.A.

"I think that we have a softer approach to things. I have found that especially true when it comes to weddings. I think the brides are more comfortable with me. I really try to build a relationship with my clients and give them personalized service. I give the party planning aspect a woman's touch.

"The basic rate is $850 for a four-hour period. There are several different packages available. What people need to realize when they are budgeting for a party is that they need to think of entertainment in relation to how much they are spending on the whole party. People are willing to spend $500 to $1,000 on a wedding cake, but they won't even think about spending the same on entertainment. The veggie platter isn't going to keep people from leaving a party, the music is. We really dictate how the party goes.

"I think the average consumer is more educated as to the value of good entertainment and they are willing to pay for it. The mobile disc jockey industry has really become based on reputation. It's no longer some kid down the street with his record collection. It has become much more professional. It has gotten especially competitive in L.A.

"I know people think that it can't be that hard to stand there and play music, but it is really party coordination. You have to make sure that people have a good time and you don't even know them. That's what people are paying for."

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Business Journal



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