DCF: Tell everyone who you are!!
I am DJ Neekola, pink haired DC DJ and CEO of Pelonkey, Inc. (DCF: If you go out at all in DC, you’ve definitely seen her, just think back to an event that you couldn’t help but dance to the great mix and chances are DJ Neekola or Pelonkey were involved).
Pelonkey is an entertainment marketplace, that allows event planners to find the right entertainer for their next event, quickly and easily online! We allow them to inquire, contract and pay online with ease. We also provide valuable business tools for the entertainer so they can take control of their careers independently, without the need of an agency.
I founded this company due to my own experiences as an international DJ. I’ve had agencies take too much of a cut, steer my career in the wrong direction, and also I’ve had promoters and venues walk all over me when I tried to manage things on my own. Pelonkey is here to help keep this industry transparent, and stable. (DCF: Yasss to fixing problems, #GirlBoss).
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
Neekola: Funemployed — I think I daydreamed about this while working in cubicles and basements employed in Cybersecurity when working for various government entities. I was still building my DJ career, and I just thought gosh — if I could just DJ full time, I would LOVE what I do….(and not have to wake up so early!) ha.
So, I used that as fuel to the fire, and kept pursuing it…making it a reality. It meant taking a leap, and leaving government work behind forever…(my clearance expired)…and getting the HUSTLE on to make sure I had enough gigs to pay the rent. I also had to downgrade my lifestyle…get rid of the fancy car, couldn’t have as many shoes as I wanted…but boy, was I HAPPY when it finally came to be. (DCF: You can always buy the stuff back later but you cannot buy back the time or your happiness so good choice!)
I’m going to be honest…finances were (DCF: are… lol) STRESSFUL. I wasn’t making bank right away. It took a while to get to where I am now as a DJ. And there were a lot of scary moments where I had to eat nothing but ramen from time to time…but, I was still very happy, doing what I loved!
Funny thing is, now that I am where I am in my career, I’m now pursuing another venture, and leaving the full-time DJing behind..(DONT WORRY! I will ALWAYS DJ, just not as much as I am right now)…
As I became as passionate as I was about DJing 5 years ago, about fixing industry problems. I really experienced, along with my peers and colleague, a lot of hardships, that none of us should experience, if we are hard working professionals. Hence, Pelonkey was born, and I am very happy to be where I am today.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
Neekola: First it would have to be my mother. I have been into music since I was pretty much in her womb. She’s always pushed me to pursue my passions, even when others were like, you are crazy. I would say she might have been a lot on the dreamer side, like me…but I had realism from my Aunt and my father, which helped me navigate through college and professional goals first, before hitting the pavement for the stars.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
Neekola: EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING I experienced in my past, good and bad, has brought me where I am today. I could write a book on this. But to sum it up, I’d say:
- Living abroad
- Past relationships
- ALL work experience, from serving tables, to being a game-master at a lasertag place, to hacking mainframes, everything gave me the experience to manage the multitude of responsibilities I have now.
- Eastern Philosophies
- Other cultures
- Past relationships
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
Neekola: I get my inspiration from others. Everyone in my life has great impact to me, no matter how much or how little time I actually get to spend with them. I really try to understand people as much as possible to understand other perspectives. This is another great reason why I really love to travel, and love my international friends – because other cultures make me open my mind even further. (DCF: We all need to see more of the world to better appreciate and understand it).
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
Neekola: I learned a very good lesson from visiting my extended Taiwanese family in Taipei. They took me to see Taipei 101, used to be the tallest building in Asia back in the day, 101 floors..in the center of it, is this HUGE ball. That ball is whats responsible for keeping the building standing straight up and stable through earthquakes, wind, and more stress. We ALL need that ball. That ball represents what is important in our lives to keep us stable. Things like spirituality, health, love (Family, friends, relationships), and work / meaning. Each one of these important things to you should represent an even part of this ball, to keep it centered and weighted. As soon as one of these things takes up too much of the ball, it becomes off center, the balls weight changes, and it can cause you to collapse. It’s important to try and keep all of these things at a healthy balance at all times so you can keep standing straight, like Taipei 101 =) (DCF: LOVE this analogy!)
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
Neekola: A lot of materialistic sacrifices, that I learned through the process really I don’t need any of it. Once I got rid of my fancy car, I didn’t have a car at all for almost 5 years, and was totally fine. I now have a silly little red roller skate with my sister, and its perfect for what we need.
I have had to sacrifice a lot of my personal life however, and that has been a very big struggle.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
Neekola: I never let being a women add to my struggle. I am proud and happy to be a woman, and it has never kept me from achieving ANY goal I’ve ever set for myself.
From being a gamer, to a motorcyclist, to a hacker, to a DJ, to now a tech entrepreneur. I’ve overcome any struggle many women experience trying to get ahead in any of these fields, and I will continue to do so.
I am now in the process of raising capital for my company, and I’ve heard I may have problems doing so as a woman founder, and I should have a male counterpart help me with these meetings….but I’m stubborn and I know I can do this on my own and I will. (DCF: YES!! Let them know who’s boss!!)
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
Neekola: You know I always live with the motto NEVER REGRET...there are some things I think about, if I’ve done differently, maybe I’d have a different outcome…but I’m pretty happy where I am right now, and the person I’ve become…so I really don’t care to reflect on what could have been etc…
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
Neekola: Another word I don’t really like….failure to me is a word that I feel has a negative meaning. Everything I think that may have happened in my life that could have been a failure, has been a great success because of what I have learned from it, and how much stronger I’ve become from it. (DCF: We love “failure” for just that reason, it is what makes us).
To give an example, I ran a record label with a friend in 2012. We put a lot of money and time into it, but in the long run it didn’t work out and we had to close it up. Same thing with a promotions company I ran with a friend in 2013. Even though these ventures did not work out, I learned SO MUCH in those experiences…and although money was lost, I feel it was way cheaper than tuition for a masters degree for the real life lessons I acquired in developing my skills in business.
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
Neekola: I’ve luckily had a lot, but one I like to talk about with my friends the most is when Rex Riot and I really worked hard for 6 months to produce an album together, called Playtime. It was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had in my life, and he was the BEST musical partner I’ve ever worked with in my entire life. We would get together every Wednesday with goals to start one new song for the album, with the goal of completing the album by the end of 2011 with a big party. And BOY did we do it.
We had the BEST party – and some of the BEST music to show for it. We sold out of the album at the launch event, and had an AMAZING attendance….even as it was the day after snowmaggedon! My favorite soccer team from Switzerland, AS Calcio, even came all the way to attend. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and my Dad was also there in attendance, ALL NIGHT. It was a day I was most excited about.
I’d have to also say the same feeling happened to me when we launched Pelonkey in Sept of 2015. I’d say the BEST party I’ve ever been a part of throwing….couldn’t have done it without my most amazing sister and partner, Ciera Gallub.
DCF: So what’s on the horizon??
Neekola: Right now its all about Pelonkey. Pelonkpelonkpelonk. Come to us when you need entertainment, come to us when you are an entertainer, we have your back!
We are ALL OVER THE WEBS!