"I'm someone who's always wanting more--whether it be knowledge, or financial, or happiness. I guess I live up to my name," Andy Moore explains over a couple of cold beers at The Owl's Nest in Forest City, North Carolina. "I've always taken bad things and tried to make them into something good." So when he lost his job at the local community college in May: "I refused to let it get me down." Like the mythical phoenix he has tattooed across his back, Andy Moore is determined to rise again--this time as DJ Eclectic.
Rutherford County, North Carolina has suffered a hard blow during the recession, experiencing a significantly more devastating downturn than the rest of the state. Built on an economic base of manufacturing, so many textile plants have either closed or cut back over the past year that the community has been left reeling from an unemployment rate that has nearly tripled--from 5.7% in late 2007 to more than 16% today.
The real hemorrhaging began in the Fall of 2008, as approximately one out of every 32 members of the available workforce lost their jobs. To their credit, a number of the companies offered to pay tuition at Isothermal Community College so their former employees could pursue advanced education or job training. According to Andy, who was then working as a tutor at ICC, enrollment jumped from about 1,800 in Fall 2008 to 3,000 the following semester.
As the college scrambled to hire qualified full-time professors to teach a massive influx of new students, the outlay for new salaries crippled the budget. The Supplemental Instruction Program that employed Andy as a math tutor became one victim of cutbacks. At the end of the school year in May, Andy found himself out of a job.
Andy says he loves his lemonade, and immediately started thinking about what to do with the lemons life had just dropped into his lap. With the job market in such a dismal state, "People are running out of options for what they can do. So I decided to start my own business. I believe you have to be able to support yourself. To make your own way."
Viewing his sudden unemployment as an opportunity to do create a new life for himself--something on his own terms--Andy didn't have to think long about what he wanted to do. "I have wanted to be a DJ since the very first time I ever heard music," he says earnestly, his piercing blue eyes flashing with the intensity of his passion.
So the 23-year-old entrepreneur put together a detailed business plan for his own deejaying business, EMF Audio, and approached a local bank for financing. Though the bank approved his loan application, they proposed to levy 11% interest. The physician father of a high school friend had recognized Andy's ambition and the potential of his idea, pledging to provide the financial backing he required. The two worked out terms that include a typical re-payment schedule, with a 5% return for the investor.
With financing secured, DJ Eclectic was born out of the ashes of Andy Moore's unemployment.
Sometimes it can be more financially feasible to start your own business, he explains, IF you can find a product or service people will want for a long time. "People always drink. When they drink, they like to hear music. Even with this economy, the bars are always full." As long as those bars stay packed and hiring DJ Eclectic for entertainment, Andy will typically earn more in one night than what he had been paid for an entire month in his previous job.
Even though he has only been at it for a matter of weeks, DJ Eclectic has already landed three contracts for regular appearances, and anticipates he'll have papers signed on a fourth by the end of the week. He hasn't even played his first official gig yet, but is already laying the groundwork for an expansion to handle all the opportunities available in the niche market he has tapped.
Earlier in the day he dropped $3,000 on a second set of sound equipment, since he'll have to hire another DJ to spin an extra weekend gig he has already booked. By the end of they year, he projects that he will be managing three employees.
As he leaves the ranks of the unemployed to become an employer himself, Andy could not be happier. "I'm feeling like this is a dream come true. I always wanted to do something with music. What more could I ask for than playing music for a living?"
If you happen to be in the area, go see DJ Eclectic play his first gig this Friday night at Legends in the Rumbling Bald Resort, Lake Lure, North Carolina.