Wednesday, May 13

Figuring out what to be when I grow up (I don't think you're ever too old to figure this out!) is always at the forefront of my mind. I am an idea person. Sometimes I drink too much coffee in the morning and I come up with all these crazy ideas. The problem is I don't know what to do with them after the initial brainstorm session. I decided to get into touch with a bunch of business-savvy folk that I admire and ask them how they did it. I figured you guys could find some inspiration from their answers as well!

Up first, you know him, you love him...Mr. Michael Antonia of The Flashdance! I am beyond thrilled that Michael agreed to answer my questions. (and head on over to Perfect Bound for some FlashDance guest blogging!)

1. What was the turning point in your life that made you decide to work for yourself? What were you doing before this?
I have always been freelance so it wasn't a big jump as much as it was cutting out the middle man! I have toured as a dj since 2002 and in addition did a ton of event production, concert producing, and advertising/marketing for gigantic corporations such as Nike, Microsoft, Target and Product (red) but I also did a lot of small events for indie film festivals, local museums, artists, fashion shows etc. The turning point was finding out my wife was pregnant... I knew I couldn't hack the desk job, but also couldn't be on the road 6 months of the year. The Flashdance is the perfect compromise.

2. What was your first concrete step after making that decision?
Turning down work... That was incredibly hard because the money was good, and I was getting really stir crazy being home all of the time. During that time I built the blog.

3. What did you find to be the most difficult thing when you decided to make your business your full time job? What one thing do you wish you had known before starting your venture?
The most difficult thing now is finding the time. If I could do anything over again it would be to start 5 years ago! Now I am juggling this business, starting another, and I have a 5 month old. I basically never sleep.

4. Who did you go to for advice? What resources were most helpful for you?
Well my business partner (Whitney Our Labor of Love) and I have worked together since the late 90's and OLOL has been through all of the same things that Flashdance is going through now so he is a wonderful resource. Beyond that marketing and advertising is something that I have a lot of experience with and I have been djing so long that I don't really have to think about that anymore... One thing that is different is dealing with so many wedding professionals. In the music industry (majority of my background) people are so hostile, and way too cool! So you really have to play games with them and schmooze a lot. I find wedding people to be way more real and WAY more approachable, I have learned a lot from my blogging pals.

5. Being compensated fairly for a service seems to be a difficult thing for a lot of people starting out. How did you decide on pricing? Do you think you were fair to yourself in the beginning?
My prices are pretty fair but I'm not trying to undercut my competetors. I provide a unique service, if you want it you'll pay for it. The last thing I want to do is play weddings for people looking for a bargain! If someone is awesome, their wedding is going to be rad, and they don't have the cash I might agree to meet them and work with them on prices. Mostly, I try to stay true to my rates, I find that people typically come around. A wedding budget is always subject to change!

6. How did you get your name out there in the beginning? What was the most helpful marketing tool? What didn’t work at all?
I partnered with some really popular photographers who have a great reputation so that was my foot in the door, but I provide something that most don't and that is the real challenge. I don't advertise really I prefer to spend money on marketing right now.

7. Describe your first “sale” or “event”? Did it go well? What did you learn from your first few endeavors?
The first wedding we did as Flashdance was this one and it couldn't have been better. They are a perfect couple with incredible friends, they have great style and were really fun to work with. We have all done a lot of weddings in the past before Flashdance so it isn't really a first event. One thing I have learned is to be more picky about my clients, because I want everyone to be like Shana & Rob. Sadly most are not like that.

8. There are so many wedding-related businesses out there now. How do you separate yourself from the rest of the pack?
We all offer something pretty specific. Anyone would be interested in beautiful pictures, and a great dj but we don't market or advertise to everyone. We are trying to be a boutique not a warehouse. I think that a lot of wedding vendors try to offer something for everyone, we try to offer something for people who are like us.

9. How do you keep things fresh? Where do you go for inspiration?
The record store and the book store. If I tell you more than that my stuff won't be very fresh now will it?

10. What is the most challenging thing about being your own boss? What is the most rewarding (besides, of course, being your own boss)?
It is difficult to call it a day when you know how much more there is to do. It is amazing to take all the tools I have acquired over the years and apply them to my product instead of some corporation that I probably don't like, or for a product that I don't believe in... It is also great to finally have an outlet for all of the ideas I have had that everyone thought were too this, or too that! Ha! they were right, they were TOO THIS for them... Just right for me.

11. What advice do you have for people who are thinking about starting their own small business who may not necessarily have a lot of prior business experience? Make sure it is something that you really love to do, and make sure you are cool with working 12-15 hour days for little or no money for months, sometimes longer... Everyone glamorizes owning your own company, and sure it can be amazing, but you have to do things that are below you in every way, all day, everyday... You have to love what you are doing to be able to get up in the morning and do that to yourself everyday. There are easier ways to earn a buck.

Thank you, Michael! You are the best! Up next...Feather Love!

(all photos via The Flashdance}


  1. i'm with you on having lots of ideas about what i really want to do with my life that never go anywhere. so i'm totally digging this q&a series.

  2. awesome! Michael rules. And I am so glad you asked me to do this too! thanks darling :) xo

  3. this is great! what timing. I added a link to your q&a to my post. we must be sharing a brain today! love it.

  4. great Q&A, I like having lots of different options for what someone can do in life. options are great.

  5. Thanks for this post - very inspiring! I'm 27 and still haven't figured out what I want to do when I grow up! xx