North Van DJ rocks sound business plan
When heavy smoke engulfed Orene Askew’s apartment earlier this month she had only seconds to escape. But, as she dashed out, deciding what to save from the fire was easy.
She grabbed her prized DJ set, the lifeline for her growing North Vancouver-based business.
“Instinct took over. I don’t remember grabbing it,” says Askew, whose stage name is DJ O Show.
She was asleep as a fire tore through her complex on West Fourth Street, completely destroying her neighbour’s suite and causing extensive smoke damage to hers.
Everyone survived, but Askew and others living there were left temporarily homeless.
But this horrible event hasn’t put a damper on Askew’s three-month-old company Orene’s DJing Services.
“I’m just happy to be alive,” Askew tells The Outlook, wearing a black-and-yellow hat labeled “O Show” across the front.
After completing a radio broadcast program at BCIT and taking courses at the School of Remix in Vancouver, the Squamish Nation member and Carson Graham grad knew DJing was her calling.
Before venturing out on her own, she worked at a radio station in Washington and at Vancouver’s Beat 94.5, where she was given her nickname.
And so far the 29-year-old has put her four years’ worth of experience as a freelance DJ to good use.
In order to break into the market, she created a detailed business plan that’s won her Best Business Plan from the Aboriginal Best Program and a trip to the Young Entrepreneurs’ Symposium in Ottawa.
“If you want to do something for the rest of your life, you have to give it your all,” says Askew, whose love of music stems back to her teenage years when friends would ask her to burn personalized CDs. “I’ve always loved music. I would spend all my allowance money on CDs.”
After submitting a proposal to the Squamish Nation, she was awarded a grant to buy her own DJ set, the same equipment she saved from the fire.
DJ gear is less clunky today. With new technology, Askew only has to carry around a mini turntable that she attaches to her MacBook.
In the future, she plans to hire other aboriginal youth to help grow her business.
“I’d like to travel across Canada to different reserves and show them, if I can do it, they can do it too.”
Askew has had support from other female DJs in Vancouver, who have been growing in number during the last decade.
“There’s a difference between female and male DJs. It’s hard to explain, it’s an emotional thing, so we can tell what a crowd wants.”
Talent is needed to become a successful DJ, says Askew, but making contacts in the industry and having a proper business plan are also vital.
“I don’t only want to play music but make a whole company out of it.”
Besides regular gigs downtown and at private events, she is holding a launch party at Mist Ultra Bar in West Vancouver on Nov. 24.