DJ China L’One is founder and CEO of We Run The World, a female DJ agency.
In 2018, We Run The World Female DJ Agency was nominated for Business of the Year. China was also nominated for Business Woman of the Year.
In 2002, she received two awards – one from The Prince’s Trust, for work with youngsters in her local community and the other from The Royal Society Of Art Entrepreneur Awards.
China has achieved two BA degrees, in Media Arts and Music Technology. More recently, she became a published author – an Amazon e-book titled “You Are What You Think” – an inspirational collection of positive life-affirming statements.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am an international female DJ, and the founder and owner of the first official global all female DJ agency in the world.
I was born in Sierra Leone and I came to London at the age of 13 years old to join my mum.
I am a huge fan of health and fitness and go to the gym five days a week. I also enjoy riding my bicycle during the summer. I am an avid reader of motivational books that channel my thoughts and ideas into positive action.
How did you fund your agency when you started?
As soon as I began working in 2010 I began to put ten per cent of my monthly income into an investment share account with Santander Bank. This was on the recommendation of one of my favourite motivational mentors. T Harv. Eker. I also bought shares in Tesco’s and other companies worldwide.
The savings built up and in 2012 when the recession hit in I took all of my money out, and cashed in on the shares, and the total investment produced just over £2000. This sum was sufficient to enable me to set up my own website and pay for marketing and promotional material. I registered the business, employed an Accountant and worked on designing a logo. The savings also covered the registration formalities and the production and design of flyers and leaflets. So all the savings were put to good use and the business got off the ground.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I sit down and plan my career all the time. It is a habit with me to be honest – I find myself sitting down reviewing and reflecting on my career, how I can improve my business or diversify my career. These quiet times are when one can change things that don’t seem to be working. Nothing is constant; things change all the time. Of course, you cannot always know how your plans will work out, but unless you have a plan you will never find out anyway. You can always tweak your plans as you go along.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Sometimes, I have felt used, alone, and perhaps too open – and there have been occasions when I have been taken advantage of – I was quite young and innocent when I started. But I have never let anyone knock my confidence; I have always kept going and yes, I know I still need to be decisive and tough. I have needed to deal with people from different backgrounds and with different personalities – that has sometimes been a challenge for me.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
One thing I would introduce would be equal parity on salaries – equal pay for men and women doing the same job. That would be an amazing achievement in law. As a female DJ, I have come across many instances where a male DJ has been paid more than me at the same venue, where we both worked together. I find that hurtful, insulting and certainly unfair where a female DJ has her own brand of presentation and a certain flair and elegance to an occasion. I, myself, have been trained up in public speaking and have written and performed rap poetry. Equal pay for equal work!
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
The fact that my agency is now recognised worldwide. As an African, I am very proud to have my agency nominated for Business of the Year 2018. To have this recognition validates all the work I have put into promoting and establishing this DJ venture for females
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next challenge is to really to expand the business, keep growing We Run The World. I want it to be household name. When someone says, “I’m looking for a female DJ”, I’d like the response to be automatic, that people will say “go to We Run The World Female DJ Agency”. That would be the dream outcome, a great achievement. We are slowly getting there.
In a wider sense, I’d like to be involved in the women’s movement to empower themselves in a man’s world – for women of all colours and different backgrounds to realise that they can do anything they put their minds to.
Being black and consistently breaking barriers is like shining a beacon for others – to be an ambassador for other coloured women who secretly might question themselves and say “Who am I, and why should people buy into me or believe in my dreams?”.
I would want to be part of the vanguard of women that says “You CAN achieve”– that women can approach me and see that if China L’One can come from war-torn Sierra Leone to the UK at 13, and achieve what she had with courage, vision and decisiveness, than I, along with others, would be proud to be a role-model, giving people the self-belief that things CAN happen for them too.
How do you balance your career and your personal life?
Unfortunately, I do not have a boyfriend at the moment. But if I did, I will definitely make time. I would love to have a family one day.
As with everything in life, you have to put in the time for it to work. So I will make time for a boyfriend if I have one.
My mum has been married to my step-dad for over 26 years – of course, its not perfect, but I would want that. It just having that support from another person, I believe it really does help a person in life. My mum always says to me, “no one is perfect, if you are waiting for Mr Perfect, you will be waiting for the rest of your life.”
Just pray for your partner, and never tried to change him, just pray for him.
What interests to you have outside of your work?
I love going to The Royal Opera House to watch opera ballet or opera musical.
What fashion interests do you have? Do you keep up with the latest fashion trends?
People tell me I am very stylish and fashionable in my appearance. I love wearing bright colours, pearls, hats. I do love to stand out when I am out. And I always do!
Have you written any songs/poetry/rap?
I use to be a poet in my youth. I have won Poetry competition during my study at Croydon College for Black History Month in 2003. The principal called me and asked me to perform the winning poem for Croydon College Graduation 2003, and I got to meet the MP of college and also got paid. My poems have being used as stretches for plays in Brixton Art Gallery in 2005 for young people. I have always perform at lots of Poetry Slam all over London in the early 2000’s.
I have also written several songs and raps. I have featured on an artist’s songs while at University, leading me performing live on Sky TV in 2005.
What are your favourite foods or places to eat?
I do not drink alcohol, it gives me headache – I have tried all wine as possible, it just don’t work for me.
Because of my health, I am extremely fussy about what I eat and I do not really go to restaurants. I enjoy cooking my own food. But if I do, it will have to be Indian restaurant – I love their spices and they have lots of vegetable choices.
Do you have any religious beliefs?
I am a Christian, I am both religious and spiritual. My mum is spiritual and reads lots of Christian author books, so I watch my mum reading spiritual books to help her grow.
My step dad’s family are super religious, my step father, father was a Church of England priest , so I grew up going to church every Sunday and learning bibles verse. To this day, I still go to church every Sunday, unless if I have to go to work. I am a Baptist, I love their disciplined as a Christian. It is more about you and God then anything else, which I love.