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.
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.
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