China L’One on setting up her all-female DJ agency

DJ China L'One

Arriving in the UK as a teenage refugee from war-torn Sierra Leone, entrepreneur China L’One went on to set up a DJ booking agency with an all-female roster. She reflects on her career so far

Moving to the UK was a tough time. I was 13 when I came to join my mum. Shortly afterwards she became very ill with depression. That experience has made me a compassionate,
patient person.

I got into this business by accident. I was at a friend’s 21st birthday party and said to the DJ: “I know big tunes – show me what to do.” That was in 2000. I’ve been DJing ever since.

The book that changed me is Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T Harv Eker. He believes that if you think you’re going to be successful, you will be. I applied that theory and it worked.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever had came in 2014 when I fell ill from overwork. My brother told me: “Don’t worry – Simon Cowell started late.” He reassured me that you can start again and be successful after a setback.

One mistake that taught me a lot happened when we represented a DJ who took our client with her when she left. I realised that some people don’t share my vision and it’s all about the money for them. We’ve since added a non-compete clause to our contracts.

My favourite quote. ‘The purpose of human life is to serve – and to show compassion and the will to help others’

Downtime is important. I wanted to sing, act and dance when I was younger. Today I unwind by watching operas, ballets and musicals.

China L’One is a member of IoD 99. Visit for further information about the network.

Refugee Week 2018 (18-24 June) celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK. For details, visit

DJIoD 99

About author

Hannah Gresty

Hannah Gresty

Until she left the magazine in August 2019, Hannah Gresty was the assistant editor of Director. She previously worked on a local news website and at a fashion PR company before joining the Director team as editorial assistant in 2016.

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