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

Hannah Gresty is the writer/reporter for Director magazine. She previously worked on a local news website and at a fashion PR company before joining the Director team in 2016.

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