Welcome back! In this episode, I have an epic conversation about sexism in the DJ world and the ways we choose to live life with fellow DJ and DJ company owner, Kristin Hubbard.
Kristin Hubbard is the Founder and CEO of the admired all-female DJ company, Our DJ Rocks. She is also the host of the Love Lead Excel Podcast and a member of the Dean's Advisory Board for the University of Central Florida and acts as Director of Communications for the National Association of Catering and Events (NACE) in the Orlando Chapter.
Don’t forget to smash that subscribe button so you never miss an episode, then come hang with us on Instagram & Twitter!
Music. Welcome to All Up In My Lady Business. I am your host, Mary Nisi. On this podcast, I'll explore the fine line between having it together and losing your shit. Here I share my journey as an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife, a DJ, and randomly a beekeeper. I have no shame and no filter except the ones I use on Instagram. My stories of resilience, a little structure, and a lot of resourcefulness can show you how to take those same things and live your life with your whole ass. Thanks for listening. Music. Okay everybody, this is the first time I've ever done a remote like this. This is so fun. So welcome everybody to today's episode of All Up In My Lady Business. I am your host Mary Nesey and I am here with... Kristen Hubbard. Kristen Hubbard. Yes. Where's the fox? Is there a fox? Lee? Okay so, okay so Kristen Lee is my stage name for singing. We'll get to that. Because when I get famous I don't want them to be able to Google Kristen Hubbard and find me. Fuck Kristen Hubbard. Okay, so not really. I made a name. We don't have to fuck that one. Okay, we're not fucking that one. Yeah, we're not fucking that one. We can fuck Wilson. We can fuck a Wilson. We're not fucking a Hubbard. No, I mean, glad that's over. Are you a little glad it's over? It's very bittersweet because I remember that part of my life and feeling so in love. So I don't have any regrets. But the life that I was living is not the life that I wanted to live. So I am very glad it's over. All right. So I am here with Kristen Hubbard, who is the owner of Our DJ Rocks and Your Photo Booth Rocks. They do. And she has a band. Yeah. And then what's the third business? So Energy by Onyx. Energy by Onyx. So Kristen is out of Orlando. So let me give you a little bit of backstory. So Kristen and I are presently at a DJ conference in Milwaukee. And I am stealing her. She's actually the onstage DJ today. So I feel like we're a little bit under the gun. But I don't get to be in the same place as her very often. And she's so amazing. And I feel like she and I are very rare people within the DJ industry because we are both women who own, a DJ company, which is rare as fuck anyway. I mean, at this conference, I swear to God, there's five of us. There's five women there, maybe. And not all of them are DJs. She also owns a multi-op that's huge. Which there is a benefit to only being five of us because there is never a line for the bathroom. Never a line for the bathroom. And I haven't paid for a drink since I've been here. Me neither. I mean, granted, I'm not drinking, like, sodas, but like, you know, everyone doesn't matter. Yeah. And doors are being opened for me. It's weird. I'm not used to being treated this well. Yeah. Sorry, my husband. But so Kristen there at this DJ conference, and I think there's only one other woman that I can think of Jodi, in Vegas who has a big multi app. But you, me and Jodi, I think, are the only multi app owners that are women? Maybe. And Kristen's company is completely women. Yes. Which is a goal. I wish I could only have women, but I have too many good dudes around me. The joke I make around the dudes in my company is they keep the EEOC off my back. Okay, I really love that. But fact, Photo Booth Rocks does have other genders. home. So like yay. Well, I have other genders. But anyway, so Kristen I want to know about how you got into this because I think if a woman's owns a DJ company, there's a good story there So, where are you from originally? Literally? I have never left my hometown, So I have always lived in Orlando Disney for life. I mean not really But yes, so here's my kind of like intro of how I even got into this and I hate telling this story But I love telling this story because I feel like whenever anyone is curious about life or a new adventure You know if you share how you did it if they can relate to those pieces, Sometimes people can put or imagine themselves in there and be like, oh, okay. Maybe I can do that too, Representation matters. I say that all the fucking time. Yes It's so important to see women fucking raging and doing a really amazing job and especially in an industry. That's not a lot of women Yeah So I actually started DJing in college in Orlando in Orlando Yep, and the funny thing is is that I never ever ever did clubs it straight up like a friend of mine, Was moving down from New York. He had googled a company to work for the company was like, yeah, I trained on weddings and events and. He was doing a training session I happened to go to it because we were gonna hang out somewhere afterwards later And I was sitting in the back room and I was in basically hearing the DJ training and I just thought to myself Well, I could do that. I could do that. This doesn't seem too hard, XLR cord plug it in over here MC. I don't know what that word means But like if he's training so after the class I asked him it was Mark Burgess the late Mark Burgess and I said can chicks Do this? Literally to the day that is literally the question. I asked I said can chicks do this? He knew me pretty well. How do you know you but how did you know an XLR cable was going into that? I did it I read the paperwork. Oh, okay. Yeah. And even for a while, I was plugging it in and still didn't know what it was called. It didn't matter. I could get it going and get you already going. And he looked at me and he goes, Are you asking because you want to do it? And I said, Yeah, I'm curious. goes with your personality, yes, you can do it. And even at our company five-year anniversary party he stood up he said a speech and he tells that story all the time And so literally I started because I asked the question can chicks do it and there was someone willing to take a chance on me And train me and so you started training with him. What were you going to college for in the first place? So my other passion I have a few that I've discovered most entrepreneurial people do yeah So I was going to college to get my degree and advertising and public relations because in my mind I was like, okay I'm gonna go to New York City and like I'm gonna wear all these cute clothes every day to work and like I'm gonna build, campaigns for these massive brands and like be in the top floor in the corner office and, You could have done that you probably still could yeah in my mind I am like I'm gonna wear the cutest clothes to go to like my top floor office, That I have my lovely Dexel sign on and I feel like I still am that you know, big boss lady building a brand thing So are you with Samantha? Oh. I don't know. I might be a Carrie. Mmm. I think there's Samantha has the PR company though, True, and she's like high-powered boss lady in the corner office. Yeah, there's a personal side of her that I'm like I don't know if I'm Samantha. Well, we all think we're Carrie. But yes, I know We all think we're Carrie anyway So that dream starts moving further and further away because you should be having some success within the DJ Well, and so after I graduated, I went to work for an ad agency, and then I went and worked for the Nickelodeon Hotel. I was obsessed with the brand, and that's where I kind of started to learn more about branding, because anytime we were designing a brochure or a party in Nickelodeon's brand standards, they said you were not allowed to use the word fun nowhere in print, and you couldn't say it. Interesting. It is interesting. I love that kind of limitation. And here's why. And every single word that you write and every single piece that you design, Fun had to be assumed just by looking at it. It's like the baseline and I was like, okay, Nickelodeon and, That just stuck with me. I thought after that I would end up being a brand manager for something, But economy got really bad. And what year was that? That was 2009. Okay. Yeah, economy's bad and here we are again another bad season, but. But at the time, I was basically doing all the internal branding for the hotel. And one day I got pulled into the office of the GM, because he wanted to see all the things I was working on. Oh, I had a spreadsheet of all the things, you know, and he looked at me and he goes, we're just gonna throw those away. And I was like, okay, in my mind, I'm like, this is the day I'm getting fired. You know what I mean? Because it was layoffs once a week. And he said, we're gonna make you a sales manager, like sales. Yeah, what is a sale? Yeah, what am I selling? Well, how do you have fun Bob? And then it correct and then how do you sell it? He goes, No, you're gonna sell a room night. Like what's a room night? A room night? Of course, I work at a hotel. I should know these things, but I don't know these things. And the girl who was sitting next to me, she had sold room nights in Vegas at the Monte Carlo. She had worked for big universal hotels. So when I got back to my desk, I'm like, Laney, they want me to sell a room night. She goes, it's fine. Let's go out every Friday. We'll have breakfast." She goes, I will help you figure this out. And that's when I got the little bug for selling. I mean, because when you're good at it, it's a high that you just want to keep chasing. It honestly was just fun. Talking to people and being like, this is what we have to offer. Does this fit your family reunion? I was in the Smurf market, which was social and things like that. They call it the Smurf market. So was it Smurf-branded? No, what's funny is is that each of those letters stand for something and I forget at this point what they mean I'd have to google it but SME. I don't really know you come on. Sorry Might have been actually for that. It might be I don't know that would make more sense, To like make it our Smurfs in the Nickelodeon. Brand of no, the Smurf market is a term that all hotels use If anyone listening to this is in the hotel market, please don't make fun of me because I am now a DJ And you also own like a giant company and you're doing fine, so not knowing what Smurfs are. We don't do the Smurf market. No. No. Smurfs can eat a dick. Okay. So you're selling hotels, but how do you get back into DJing? So I never stopped. So I did it on the weekends because I'm like, I have so many bills to pay. There's no way that I can pay all these bills with just a salary and that's it. So I kept DJing on the weekends and then there just came a point in time where I was like, you know what? Like, I absolutely love my job, but there's got to be more. And so I started to build a DJ brand. And in my mind, I swear to you, Mary, it was just like, let me just do this on the side and it'll probably take me somewhere else. Like this where I'm at today was not the plan. No, not the plan. No. So I gave them I think like a one or two month notice. They had a party for me when I left. They got me a cake with my logo on it. Fun fact, I DJ to wedding in February. And the girl who was the executive to the GM was the one who made that cake way back in the day. She was at that wedding. And she came up to me and she was like, Oh my God, Kristen, I had no idea, you know, you had the secret superpower, you know, and you know, when people go off and they try these things, you don't know where life's gonna take you. But you go and you try it. And so she's like, I'm so proud of you. Well, and I'm also proud of you for, like, taking that. Jump and figuring out like the thing is is that you know I think some people are like well I can't start a company because it won't be what if it fails and it's like yeah when you have like the entrepreneurial spirit when you like don't like you have a lot of passions and hobbies and the things you want to do like it's like oh I'll just do this and if I don't do this I can always come back to hotels yeah all right you know like I can always wait tables that's like literally I will never be poor I will never starve because I can wait a table correct so fun fact here I forget what year it was that I went to my first DJ conference, and there wasn't many females there, but I remember seeing you. That was in 2012. Does that sound about right? It was either 12 or 13. Yeah, I remember because I had just gotten married and some man propositioned me in the bar and I said, I'm married, and he goes, that doesn't matter. And I was like, ew, gross, Vegas is gross. That's how I remember when I was at Mobile Beat. But yes, I did see you and there were five of us there. Five women. Yeah. In general. Yeah. And it's weird. Yeah. I remember going home and I was like, Oh my god, this chick is so cool. How can I be like her? Because I was like, Oh my god, toast jam. That's so fun. So how many years in were you? Barely none because okay, so I put in my notice for Nick hotel in, 2011. Okay, so that was maybe a year or two in it literally was just me. So I'm all looking at like this Chicago cute, we don't bring the cheese. I'm like this immediately like I got you. Yeah. Are you trying to tell me that you were, like, inspired by me? I was so inspired by you. Oh, my God. I was like, oh, my God. Like, I have chills. I might cry because I've never gotten a chance. I actually might cry. I've never had a chance. I might cry, too. I've never gotten a chance to tell you this, but I was like, okay, so I don't have to be the only one. I can be unique. I can just be who I am, and do whatever it is that I may like. And I was like, okay. You can call it what you want to. Yeah. And that's the thing. It's like representation matters. It matters to see somebody else doing it. Yeah before you can, Understand what it is you're doing. Like when I started my company in a million years I did not think it would still be happening, you know 17 years later and I certainly didn't think I'd be making a living from it and like supporting my family and like I Thought it would be like a fun thing. I would do to make money and then at some point I'm gonna get too old. But don't you kind of feel like you're the right age now? Oh, I'm the perfect age now And here's what's wild about that is even when I am training a new DJ, It's so difficult to explain to someone that like you've really got to be in this for the long haul and Sometimes it's hard to see three to five to seven years out in your life I can't see that far out but you at least have to have the dedication to continue doing it in some sort of fashion because I, As fast as I can train and as much information as many drills I can get a DJ ready to go do it a backyard party in four months But I really do think that it takes about two and a half to three years to really get into the swing of like this world is so different. The workflow is different. The mindset of. Oh my god, I have nothing on the calendar. So I've got to build my calendar in a short frame of time But in that short frame of time, I got to start building the calendar for the next year and sometimes it's hard for people, you know to Be like, let me give you all my saturdays a year and a half from now, but here's how I look at it, It's only saturdays so Instead of me giving someone monday through friday 52 weeks a year. I'm, really only asking for the weekends. Well, and not only that it's like it's money. You know is going to come in in. That's the weird part of this job is that a lot of companies, you get assigned the wedding. Do you do it that way? Do you get assigned it like three weeks out? No, no, no, no, no. Like when you book, you know who it's about. We know. That I think is such a huge key thing from a multiple perspective. Because I feel like for the client to know who their DJ is going to be the whole time, that makes sense. When someone gets assigned like a month before and you may or may not meet them face to face, I'm like, how do you form the relationship? How do you know who those people are? Like. Know, it's maddening to me to think about that. But it's also like, you know, the money's coming in. Yes, like you can look at your Saturday, you know, like you can be right now in what are we in April? Yeah. And I can know that in October of 2024, that someone's got eight weddings, they're going to bring in $3,000 that month. Yep. You know, just in DJ money. And it's like that way you can know like you can budget for that you can plan your life around that. And I can provide a full time job to a lot of DJs if they just wanted to give me the time. Ding, ding, ding-ding-ding. And you know it's interesting it's like everyone complains, about the job market and no one wants to work and boop-de-boop-de-boo and like yeah it is harder to find people and I think part of it is that like with our job it's like you know it looks really fun and and it looks fun and hard and it's hard in ways that you know you're dealing with drunk people and it's really hard to say to people like you're gonna have to deal with some sexual harassment like it's hard to like. Well you're gonna deal with sexual harassment, You're gonna have to deal with racism. You're gonna have to deal with I don't know what it is, but like, oh, you're the DJ, why cuz I'm. Yeah, insert whatever you'd like. That's why I paused like there's a there's a lot, Well, and I mean it has this happened to you where you're setting up and someone asks you're setting up for the real DJ Yes, it's like yeah They sent a tiny woman in here to set up for the giant man's gonna waltz in, Do you know I'm gonna sit here until midnight and then break it all down for them? That's how that's going to go. But you know what my favorite part about it is? At the end of the night, proving someone wrong and showing them that what they thought in the beginning and how they viewed something in a certain way, that view isn't always correct. You get people at the end like, oh, you were really good in this like, huh, I had low expectations for you. And I was telegraphing that to you all night long, the skeptical looks I was giving you from the side of the dance floor that I saw the whole time. And I hate having to be that trailblazer. I hate having to take the shit from that because, I mean, I'm sure you also here, never seen a female DJ before and you're like. 13, 14 years into this, that's on you. Mm-hmm. Where have you fucking been? Yeah, you know under a rock. Yeah, So, how did you start bringing in the people that work for you? And are they independent contractors or employees? So they were independent contractors for the first five years in business and then we switched to employees and, So it really was just conversations There were events that I had coming up that I just wanted help with and so the people that I hung out with I'm like Hey, would you like to come out with me on my event? I just need some help and then it was the same questions. Well, this isn't too hard. Could you train me how to do this? I'm like, I don't really know but if you can watch me and emulate what I do then yes And so that's how that started and I just so happened to hang out with awesome chicks, I mean, of course your friends are amazing, In my mind there was never a plan that says I'm going to create an all-female DJ company It was I just need help on events and these were the people that were around me that I just so happened to ask And then once it started I was like, okay, you know what I am gonna do this, but I don't want to train a, different gender and I wouldn't say that I wouldn't do it now, but I think my mindset was I just remember being around, Guys who made me feel inferior and when they would teach me and I wouldn't get it. It made me feel. Like they would just like step in push me over me like no This is how you do it and they'd show me them like well, I don't even want to do it now Mm-hmm because I don't like the way you're doing it and so it was very intimidating and so I don't know, For me, it was difficult to learn when I'm in an intimidating environment and it doesn't feel nurturing and it doesn't feel like you care You know, and so for me, I wanted to create an environment where, Women felt comfortable being trained. Well, and I mean one of the things I've been thinking about I was somewhere recently and we were talking about how they've never met a bad female DJ. And I was like, yeah, because if a woman's going to DJ out in public, they have to fucking know their shit. They can't make mistakes. They you know, like we don't we would never I would never just go out and just wing it, you know, and I feel like we aren't allowed to make mistakes. We're not. And I have a fun fact for you that will validate everything that you're saying. Forget the name of the CEO or director, but she was doing a presentation. She used to work at Biz bash and she had a fact on the screen and she said if there is a job interview a, guy Will apply for that job if he has 30% of the bullet points Guess how many bullet points it takes for a woman to apply to that same job like 90 I think it was almost close to a hundred and I was like that is so true. That is so me and so it's almost like we have to like. Summon the confidence of a mediocre white guy. I don't know what it is But I know that like women need to lift women Yeah, and I have a strong belief that we are stronger together than we are separate It's like how you know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is like, you know, When will the enough women be on the Supreme Court and it's like when there's nine It's like like what like we need to be in places of power Like I actually saw a graph the other day that said that women who run fortune 500 companies those companies perform 40% better, than Their male counterparts Wow you look at a graph. I get chills whenever I think about I'm gonna go like research that and then, and ask all the questions of like. Why? Well, because here's the thing. Men were the ones who were always in charge. Women are in the home. Men, when the brides of the middle class, like men would leave the house and go to work and women would stay home with the babies. And you only just saw guys in those positions. And then guys would bring their friends in. Oh, you're also a Kappa Beta. I'm also a Kappa Beta. I'm going to give you this job. Oh, you went to Ohio State. I also went. There's all these weird, dumb ways that are completely accepted and completely legal to give people jobs instead of having to go through the same merit system that we all kind of go through where you start in the mailroom and work your way up. No one does it anymore because someone's always got a friend that can leapfrog over them. Support for this podcast is brought to you by Toast & Jam DJs, my very super cool DJ company located here in Chicago, Illinois. If you are having any kind of party, a wedding, a birthday, a jamboree, maybe an office party, a gala, shrimp boil, store opening, we've done some 5Ks. If you need music for anything, you probably need us. We have also added to our things that we do, photo booths. And our photo booths are super cute, they're pink, and they've got a sequin backdrop, and they can make gifts and boomerangs, that can be texted out from the booth at the party. They're very cool. So if that is something that you want, In theory, this ad is for local to the Chicagoland area, but you know, money's the same color everywhere. So if you wanna fly us to wherever you are, especially if you are in the general Hawaii vicinity, perhaps, we have done a lot of destination events and we will make it very awesome indeed. Go to www.toastandjamdjs.com, Check out our website and give us a hire. I mean, I get it all the time. I get it in these rooms You know, I mean I get under like people don't know me the way they know you like you've been around you've been in these rooms more than I have and You know, it's like a lot of times. They don't know what to do with me Well, and it's because I just want to change their mind, I'm not out here being like you need to this and you needed that and make sure that like, you know You have a female here and a female there I really honestly and genuinely just want to change their mind and I want them to know that like we're just as intelligent. Sometimes we can do certain things better but then we can do this as a collaborative community where it's like let me share with you what I know because there are definitely management approaches that I use that are highly successful and it's just because of my nurturing nature that they can go back and implement you know. Well it works for us obviously and I think it probably work for their teams, but then they have to admit that maybe they don't know the answer. And there is sometimes one willing to like modify. I think every human needs to be able to look in the mirror and be like. I'm flawed in some sort of ways. And how can I look in the mirror and better myself, because I'm not perfect. Or even like, you know, oh, wow, the way I did it, it worked in some capacities, but this person actually has a better idea. Yes. And I can implement that or like, I thought it was this way, but then I thought that, you know, I had this weird racist bias that I didn't realize that I had. And then I met a black person. And all of a sudden, I understand why the key word sings. And it's like, it shouldn't take actually knowing someone or like having a daughter or whatever to like make you think that all of a sudden, there's a whole class of people that deserve to be respected. But whatever gets you there. But you know, what's really funny. So I don't know if you know, Tarik. Tarik is a planner that is more than she's a lifestyle choice. She is a whole ball of everything that exudes things that can inspire a million people. So she came in to speak at our local NACE and she spoke on DEI and one of the biggest takeaways from that talk and I am gonna share this with everyone I know is she talked about the I can't breathe moment. There's chills all over my whole body. And so she said when we all heard the I can't breathe statement over and over again from George Floyd. Yep. That wasn't the first time that that's happened. It's happened many many many many many many many many many times. The difference was We were all at home at that time and we couldn't ignore it, and I was like, Wow, I mean let that sink in for a minute and me I never intentionally ignored things I even remember saying to myself I don't even watch the news so I didn't know anything in the past and I didn't even know that happened until almost four days later and people like dude the World is messed up right now. I'm like what's going on? You know, that's my own, you know No, and you're also in Florida a state that doesn't really want to, Embrace those kinds of things. No, and honestly that was the biggest takeaway. It was like, okay, Like we we just need to open our eyes and I think that when you're able to do that and take a step back whether it's forced or not, that's when, you know, you step outside your comfort zone and you learn and you can grow and perspective helps with that. Yeah, like, think about that George Floyd moment was only three years ago. You know, we're coming up on the three-year anniversary of that right now. It was like in May of 2020 was when that happened. And it's like, I think about how much change has happened in just the, I'm also getting chills right now, in the last three years. And we have so much further to go. But there are conversations that are happening that never would have happened. And it's like, I don't want to think about him having to have died for that. But I would hope to think that, you know, it wasn't in vain. You know, it wasn't in vain. Work anyway. Okay. Right back into the DJ world or into just business in general. So what is your full time staff look like in terms of people that work for you? That's a good question. So the way we have it structured right now is I've got basically four of us that are in full time that I would consider, quote unquote, management, I consider them my leadership team. So I pretty much am CEO and director of marketing and I have my DJ role. I've got Casey who's in the office and she basically is she runs everything executive from payroll, HR, she helps with onboarding, and basically like on a high level, she helps me manage some of my life and the things I have to do. So operations. Yep, more on the admin side than like the warehouse side. Then on the warehouse side, I've got Shadow, and he basically is the warehouse manager. So really heavy on the photo booth side, because our photo booth business, I mean, we do. I don't even know at this point, because I've been trying to focus more on high quality, which means higher dollar, but then also making sure that our margins are healthy. But we'll have two, three, 400 Vodaboosts go out a year. So he basically manages getting those out the door, customizing those, scheduling attendance, and all of that. And then we've started to add on more lighting and production, like a smidge. So he'll manage all those things. And you own all your own lighting and all this? Yes, yep. And then Jenny, who is a dear friend of mine, DJ, and now basically my number one in sales. So who manages the DJs? Well, currently we are self-managed, but that would be under me and Jenny. Okay, but so when things happen, like if somebody gets a complaint or whatever? We usually divide and conquer. Most of the time that's Casey, because that'll fall under HR. Oh, you got a nice little well-oiled machine over there. Yeah, Betty. And how many events a year do you do? Personally, I still do 30 to 40. But like as a company? Ooh, that's a good question. I actually pulled that number recently because I have scaled back a little bit. So pre-COVID, the number was outrageous. And it's like, how is that even possible? It was like eight to 900 between both companies. And now I honestly, like with almost the same amount of employees, which we hover between 25 to about 30 employees. Like active DJs, like people that can DJ for you? Nope, just DJ and photo booths. Okay, yeah. So both. We call those PBJs, photo booth jockeys. That is cute. I'm so... Because toast and jam? Stop it. I'm so stealing that. You can. Because I call them PBAs. And I don't like that. Photo Booth Attendant. That's not fun. No. PBJs. Okay. I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna implement that. Okay. Anyway, so I think we're anywhere between three and like 500 right now. 500 on the DJ? With Photo Booth. So if we break it down, and we've had some changes in our staff recently, and each of us DJ anywhere between 30 and probably 100 events a year. So we don't really have part-times that maybe they'll do one or two a month anymore. Every one of us is pretty much full-time. Well that's good because I remember even back in the day when I was doing like 60 to 70 weddings a year myself, like if I had like a weekend off, I'd be like, I don't know how to do this job anymore. It's good to have people that are... I agree. I mean that's not true. I mean I was able to pull it together if I had a weekend off. But that's one of the wonderful things about this job is the grind. You get to like, especially like when you're first starting and you're like at all the different venues and you get to like work with different vendors. You're figuring out the lay of the land. And it's so fresh and fun to figure all that out. But those three years in, after three years when you've been through everything, by three years, everything has happened to you. Yes. Everything has happened to you. And so that's that third year when you really begin to cook. And then I think it's that three to five where you really start to hone in on your craft, Whether that's you get really passionate about mixes and transitions, or you end up excelling in the MC portion of it, you know what I mean? Like, there's all these different things that we have to do as a DJ, you really start to hone in on those things. but then by year, you know. Four five six now, you're like, oh I'm slaying now. Mm-hmm And it's a really good feeling when you get up to there, but you have to get there Yeah, and it takes time. You can't have this like I'm having a bad mental health day. I'm gonna take a day off Like that's not allowed. It's actually not I mean we want to talk about that right now. Let's do it I mean, I literally landed on Sunday morning at the airport. I think it was nine o'clock in the morning I don't want to I don't want to rip on people who take mental health days I'm gonna make it clear that like I'm not like in job and people that need that stuff I don't want to like say but you whatever I just want to qualify that by saying mental health is important good point And it really is and life balance and being able to make sure that you can ride the highs and lows and try not to let. The massive things that come at us as humans Let it get you so down that you feel like you've literally got to stop all of life and you can't handle it Yeah, because life is gonna keep coming and I feel like in your 20s It's almost unbearable But when you get to like your 30s, you got to figure out how to manage us because it's not gonna stop It just keeps coming at you. So I landed nine o'clock in the morning and, My cousin calls me or no, my dad calls me because he's back in the hospital We're on the end stages of congestive heart failure, and when I say end stages, we are on hospice and, Your dad is actively dying right now. He's actively dying. I'm I haven't heard from him today. So I hope he's out fishing or I hope he's found peace, either way I hope he's found peace. But he calls me and he goes, hey, pumpkin, and I'm back in the hospital and I'm like, I literally just left you when you were fine yesterday. And, He said well, there's nothing left they can do. He's like at this point. They're giving me two to three days, Yesterday you heard this Sunday. Oh my god. So but I'm here. I can't get back on a plane, Because by the time I get a flight and then what am I gonna do when I get home? Yeah, where is it? He's in Orlando Yeah, so he got out of the hospital My cousin took him over to the coast and he got I talked to him yesterday you know when the conference was over and he had got to go fishing. I haven't heard from him today so I don't know what today looks like and so I just have been telling myself because I've been on this ride with him you know for about two to three years now there are constant things that are gonna come at you and you've got to just be able to center yourself and just put joy into the world. That sounds so cheesy but what else am I supposed to do? My mom died so mom died actually to be she died on May the 4th so we're coming up on 2007 was when she died Wow whatever so but when she died she died on May 4th and then I was DJing at a bar the next night and I was like I don't know I'm like it feels weird to go DJ but like I don't know what else to do so I went and DJed it's like how's your mom doing I'm like she died yesterday and they're like why the fuck are you here I don't know what else to do cuz what are we supposed to do I I can't I'm gonna find time to grieve I think right now I'm in a mental place of I've compartmentalized some things you pre grieved. I definitely have pre grieved a lot and. It's just what what am I gonna do he wants to go fishing so I can't sit there and I'm not gonna watch him fish That's not a thing you did together and that's inauthentic. That's the thing Like if you were to go fishing with him and be like, I'm just oh this so this is what dad does and he's fishing It's like I mean we did it when I was a child and that's about I mean it you know what I mean? But I just... Dude, you got to calm yourself because I could literally be a wreck right now. Yeah, and I cried a little bit yesterday so let it come out, but I am tired of letting things steal my joy and. If there's anything that my dad has taught me in this whole process is You've really got to live life and you've got to live every single moment and it's almost wild my brains thinking about it right now and I'm just like. He's literally being given two to three days. So if you only have two to three days We're not talking five years anymore. We're not talking, let's try chemo, you know, for the cancer patients. Or like, here's some gingko biloba. Maybe that's a miracle. You know what I mean? And so it's like when you've got two to three days, you're like, how am I gonna literally use every hour of every minute? And I remember two years ago at Midwest DJs Live, I'll share this, someone got on stage and it was literally right when he got diagnosed for the first time and I had to move them in, it was weeks into this. Look for the jelly bean video, jelly bean of life video. And they showed the video on the screen and this jelly bean, I call it Skittles, but the jelly bean video basically, it starts off with all these jelly beans on the floor. This is a video that somebody showed here. Yes, in their presentation. And so basically here's the theory, picture like a million jelly beans on the floor. And it's like, this is how many jelly beans you have, which are days in the life when you first get on this earth. Okay, your first however many years are taken up by like, you just gotta grow up and like poop your pants and do whatever because you're a baby, right? They take all those jellybeans off the screen. And then they're like from year one to year 18, you've gotta learn all these things so all those go off the screen. And then they start saying all these other things. You spend this many days driving, this many days sleeping, this many days watching TV, this many days. And so by the time you get to the end of this video, it's like these are the only jellybeans you have left to enjoy your life. How are you going to use them? Wow. My life has forever been changed after that. And I know it's jelly beans, but they reminded me of Skittles because they're so colorful on the screen. And so I'm always like, how am I gonna use my Skittles today? I'm not using my Skittles on that. I can't do it. Yeah. And especially post pandemic, it's like we really have a taste now of what can be gone very quickly. You know, and I remember when my mom died, I did three weddings between when she died and when her funeral happened. And it was a thing where, you know, some people were like, how can you do that? Yeah. And it's like, because I'd rather be doing this than staring off in the middle distance. You have to. And I, you know, Chris D'Amico. Yes, I do. So Chris D'Amico is a wedding DJ who does a lot of inspirational speaking. I saw him last year at Marquee. Were you there? Yes. Wait, this, a few months ago? No, it was last year. Okay. I saw him this February. So he might have said the same thing, but he would tell the story about how he had to do a wedding like the week his son died. Yes. And he was... His son. His son died in a tragic boat accident. I think they, I'm going to get the story right, but if I didn't get the facts right, the sentiment will be good. And he went and did an event and he felt awful. It was the worst. He did not want to be there, but he pulled it all together and he got there and he did the wedding and he doesn't even remember it. Like he was in some kind of fugue state doing his wedding. That's what happens. And like six months later, he got an email from someone who was at that wedding and they were like, I have never been so moved by a performance and I want you to do my wedding 15 times over. And the point he made was like, I did not want to be at that wedding. I had nothing to give. And, somehow within me, I found it within me and I gave it and somebody got something from that. So that moment wasn't for granted. Like it wasn't, it wasn't in vain. It wasn't my ego had made me do it. It was like, I had something to give. I didn't even know how to give it. And I gave it and someone saw it. I don't know. That moment really, it really grabbed me because I feel like it's the. Not to go back to the self-care thing, but it's the different people who are like, I'm having a bad mental health day, I'm going to stay home. And it's like, what about powering through? Like, what could you do? You know, it's like, when you're uncomfortable, that is when you grow. Yes. And I do think there's something to be said for mental health days and being soft and... Oh, don't get it twisted. If I have a Sunday off, I'm getting a massage. I'm not answering any phone calls. I'm going to cook myself dinner. I'm going to probably buy a beautiful bottle of wine. Put a straw or a nipple on top of it. I mean, I'm don't even like listen like as soon as I get this bathroom renovated I will have my bubble baths again, and I already have a wine holder for the bath. It's a very important thing. But I do think that I have become more mentally strong when I have in The crappiest of a tornado I can sit there and I can find the calm and still find the joy And I think there's power in that and I think that's the reason why we do this job, you know. This is also the reason why I've been doing it for so long because if I would have quit every time I needed a mental health day I would have quit years ago. Yeah. I need a mental health week right now. Well, I mean, you know, I mean, especially if you've got some grief on the horizon, you know, and it's tough stuff. So let's take some weight off of this. So post pandemic, are you still twenty five, thirty DJs? No, we're not actually. So when the pandemic hit, we were actively booking twelve of us. And Florida barely shut down to barely. We still had four hundred that we had to move. And now we are actively booking about four and a half of us. I say half because like, one is in a life transition. So she's like on pause. We're not currently booking her until we get like, we're doing a little maternity leave. You know what I mean? Yeah, we had 564 weddings on the day of lockdown, but they all moved. I mean, we didn't do anything going on. But okay. So the pandemic has made you become more lean, it's made you become a more... And intentional. You know what I mean? people to be able to have that balance where they can go on their vacation. We're not so stressed about like we have all these overhead expenses that like we have to take these events. So I really just wanted to become more intentional and run lean and selfishly like I absolutely love what I do. I love DJing. I love my clients. I love being in the wedding industry and the event industry, but I can't do it 24 seven. And so, you know, I still want to be able to do other creative things that like give my mind a break. So you've got this musician side of you. Yes, ma'am. So this is what I've been saying. And I think a lot of this comes from just being inspired and walking this journey with my dad of like, I literally have to take life by the balls and just go like, I keep saying to myself, you know, all those things you've always wanted to go do what is stopping you just go do them. And so I really dug into music writing and creating last year, got hooked up with, you know, a great producer who really understood what I was trying to put out because I don't know that side of it. I don't even know how to play the chords on my guitar yet. And then started doing writing sessions. And then you know, once we came out of those, it was like, Oh, wow, this is good. This is making me feel and move. And so we ended up recording the entire EP. Over the course of a couple months, we did all the band lay downs in Nashville, and then I did vocals in Orlando. And my first single came out in November. So what you just got a producer? Yeah. Do you pay them? Yeah. Okay. Okay. All right. If it was a different time in my life I may not have spent the money on this but you know if everything I wanted to say in life for everyone to come after me. I said it in those five songs. So if you feel like if this EP is the only thing you record, would you be okay with that? 100%. It was like crossing something off the list. And you know what? I'm really hoping that with this approach and me not being like, I have to make money and I got to do this and I got to start doing that. I'm hoping that it wherever it's supposed to be, it lands. And whether that's, you know, me going on a tour and a summertime and singing it and Moving people by my stories or whether it's just to the couple hundred DJs that I continue to share my music to I mean, It's a really good use of money and I really good attitude to have towards it because I feel like it'll keep you from Getting to you know, like smelling your own shit. I mean, I'll be straight up with the numbers First of all, let me start with this number I've never been more excited to make eight dollars and fifteen cents from Spotify a few things So like when I go click on like, you know the sales, you know of the song I made four cents from Pandora. The same four cents that like probably smash mouth makes off of like, you know I literally get giddy and it's it sounds so, You know, what's the word oxymoronic says the girl who literally built a seven figure business I was told I couldn't do it because of how I grew up as a child where I grew up as a child I was in a low-class family who was on food stamps. I mean, I'm sorry. We're gonna air out the laundry, My parents were not doing legal things. I'll leave it at that. Oh the joke I like to make is like my business I had to run my business like it didn't fell off the back of a truck because that's how my parents ran there as it Was literally and so I was the first person in my family to even go to college, Statistically, I wasn't supposed to make it so fast forward here. I am you know, just curious and always wanting to grow, building this business, absolutely loving it. I don't want to quit doing it but the proudest thing is literally pouring my heart into this music thinking I don't care anymore. It matters to get the music out and I made $8.15. The album from production to hiring the musicians to Recording Studio, $25,000. Yeah, I don't regret one bit of it. I mean, and that's a good use of your money. If that's how you know, like, you've worked hard, you've earned it. And if I got to do a photo shoot, so I got to put like visuals to the songs. And like, I was even sharing it at the bar last night. He was Bill, Bill Herman was down there. I think he was the one I was showing that to the title. We'll be putting it in the show notes. So you can. So coming soon. So the EP title is called heartbound. And so that song is really just about like, I'm not gonna let anything stop me. And like, my favorite lyric is, in my darkest hour, baby, I'm a wildflower. And so like, nothing is gonna stop me until I'm heartbound. And so the message of that song is, no matter what you're going through in life, don't let the darkness stop you. If you are shining bright, and it's blinding someone's eyes, that's their problem, not yours. And like, you know, you're on the right path when your heart is in it. It. Yes. Beautiful. I mean. Well, I feel like that's a good place to stop. This is amazing. Like, I'm so glad we got to do this. I'm like asking people for microphone, but does anybody have an extra microphone and a cord and a boom mic? We've made this happen with the miracle of the fact that we're at a DJ conference. Literally. So Kristen has to go back and DJ now because she had the guts to put herself in the ring, which is something I wish I had the guts to do. You do. You do. Maybe next year I'll be on the stage. should be. I mean, okay, but we're gonna work on that. Let's do it. All right, folks. How do people find you? What's the easiest way to find me is on Instagram at meet Kristen. I've got all the information in there. You can always link over to my company DJ page if you want to get inspired and see what we're doing. That's our DJ rocks. My music page. I'm still figuring out content. I don't know what I'm doing. That's Kristen Lee music because my stage name is Kristen Lee music. Perfect. All right, folks. Well, thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you so much for carving out time for this when you could be doing so many other things. It's been my pleasure. Thanks for listening to All Up In My Lady Business, a podcast from a Mary Nisi production. It is written by me, Mary Nisi. It is edited by Amelia Ruby with Softer Sounds. It is recorded at the Toast & Jam offices in Logan Square in Chicago, Illinois. And it is also sometimes recorded in the attic of my house in Evanston. You can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at all up in MyLadyBusiness.com. And if you enjoyed this episode, and you did, smash that subscribe button and send it to somebody who's ass could be a whole lot holer. Oh, and also, if you're the kind of person that reviews things on the internet, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. It really does help people find the show. And don't forget, whatever you do this week, do it with your whole ass. Thanks for listening! Music.