There’s nothing Booked Parties loves more than supporting the creative, energetic spirit of entrepreneurs. Recently, we are finding inspiration by setting our sights a bit lower…literally. A new crop of entrepreneurs is on the rise, but you won’t find them running their businesses between the hours of 9am to 3pm when school is in session. Gone are the days of paper boys and lemonade stands. Today’s young business owners are savvy beyond belief, successfully identifying niche business models and leveraging the power of social media in a manner that’s so natural to them, it’s staggering to us grown-ups. The children are clearly ready to lead the future.
There’s a new DJ that’s getting residents of Westchester and Putnam counties on the dance floor. He has professional equipment, a covetable play list, not to mention amazing balloon twisting skills, but one thing he won’t have for at least a few years is a learner’s permit. Thirteen-year-old Travis LaPlaca, also known as DJ Travis, has been spinning for 1.5 years and has no plans of slowing down. He’s dedicated to learning his craft, keeping his customers smiling and providing the highest level of professionalism in the process.
We sat down with this young entrepreneur to learn more.How did you become interested in music and DJing?
I am always listening to music and love technology. Being a DJ seemed to be a great opportunity to bring the two together and even earn some money, while doing something I enjoy!How did you book your first job?
My parent’s work union hired me to DJ a holiday party for children. It was a bit scary at first, but I had fun and it was great to hear the positive feedback. Even now, there is always a little anxiety before a gig, but as I get more experience, I become less nervous. It’s all about getting practice, so that it becomes almost like a habit. You also need to be motivated and enjoy what you are doing.
What’s on your playlist?
I have a playlist filled with the latest pop music, which is my favorite, but I have been expanding to other genres based on customer requests for each event. One of my favorite artists right now is Marshmello.How do you promote your business?
My mom is my manager and uses social media to spread the word. Early on, to promote my business, she booked events that I’d DJ for free. It really helped me build up my experience in a low-pressure situation. I also have a website and Instagram and Facebook pages, which have played big roles in building my success.
Have you received any valuable advice?
I met a professional DJ who taught me that it’s always important to have a backup plan in case anything fails. This advice came in particularly helpful when I first started out and had less professional equipment. I also have a family friend who is a professional DJ, whose business left a strong impression on me. I’ve always been impressed with how successful he has become and hope that my business can have similar results.You offer balloon art as one of your services. How did you learn this craft?
I taught myself balloon art through online research and watching YouTube tutorials. I spent many hours watching step-by-step videos on balloon twisting. That’s also how I learned many of my dance moves. After you learn the craft, it’s all about practicing. I love seeing children’s reactions when I hand them a balloon creation.How do you balance running a business with all of the other activities involved in just being a kid?
Being a kid is very hard with school and other obligations, but it’s all about having a good balance so that nothing gets neglected.Are there any challenges you experienced along the way that you didn’t anticipate and, if so, how did you handle them?
When I first started out, I had beginner’s equipment and it failed during a gig, which was very stressful. Thankfully, I had my backup plan ready to go and it all worked out. Nobody even noticed that I had a technical difficulty!What advice can you give other kids looking to become “mini movers & shakers”?
Take the time to really learn your craft before worrying about making a profit. Just think of fulfilling your dreams and if you want to pursue something, do it for free to gain experience. My dad taught me that it costs money to make money, especially when it comes to starting a business.What do you want to be when you grow up?
I am really thinking about becoming a technology engineer.
Photograph provided by parents of DJ Travis
Shauna Levy is a writer, communications professional and a stay-at-home mom. Her interests include flaunting her discount shopping finds, cooking food her children reject and restoring her 125-year old home. She is currently raising three boys, ages 9, 6 and 5 alongside her husband in Chappaqua, NY.