LaVelle Stillwell is the Head of Promotions at XO Nightclub and the CEO of LA Productions. As a graduate from Ohio State in 2012, he’s already made moves that have brought him much success in the promotional business. As you see Columbus nightlife transition into a thing, know that LaVelle has a big role in making it happen.
Finding LA in Columbus
“I wouldn’t say I started off wanting to be a promoter. It just kind of happened,” LaVelle says. He majored in marketing at Ohio State, and it was there that he made connections within Phi Beta Sigma and with Ohio State professors. The way LaVelle describes it, his success in promotions was a gradual process. There’s no play-by-play to reach his level of success, but there is something to be said about making the most of each opportunity given to you. In his interview, LaVelle lays out how he maximized his opportunities.
He threw a few parties
“I ended up working an event for my frat, and it went exceptionally well, it was like one of the best fraternity parties of the year,” LaVelle says. “And then we ended up getting a frat house, we started throwing house parties, and I was already starting to build a name for myself. It just went from there.”
He also threw some bigger events during his time at OSU.
“When I was in college, I threw a fashion show. We gave students that were design majors the opportunity to design for the fashion show, and reached out to students that were interested in modeling as well.” The fashion show was the first of it’s kind on campus. Lavelle and the other students booked local celebrities as special guest hosts. Their first year they were in a lecture hall. Three years later they were at the Convention Center. “Each fashion show grossed over, like, $20K,” Lavelle says. “I started doing that at 19 years old, and you know I realized, I can do this.”
He pulled from the people around him
LaVelle’s older cousin owned Icon and the Cove a while back, and he would help out. He went from bar-backing to working the door, and on from there. His cousin was a great mentor to have in his corner.
“My cousin’s business partners, as well, just picking and pulling at the different people around you,” he says. “Some of these guys I’ve known since I was 19, and I’ve known some of them since birth.”
Phi Beta Sigma played a part as well. “I had older fraternity brothers helping me out. Actually doing business with them, then able to gain insight from them. Experience is really the best teacher.”
He never sold himself short
“I went to college, and that worked for me but that doesn’t work for everybody. I say if you have the opportunity to go to college, definitely take advantage of it,” says LaVelle. His time in school gave him an advantage, learning the marketing strategies and skills necessary to be successful outside the classroom. But the experience as a whole was beneficial. “College is also about the experience, enhancing yourself as a person, and the different people that you meet.”
He made use of his resources
“I learned how to do Photoshop for my own designs for my flyers. I just got on YouTube,” says LaVelle. “Make sure that if you’re using the Internet or social media, use it to your advantage, don’t just be on there cracking jokes and being silly,” he says. “Really make sure you’re using it for what it’s worth.”
LaVelle says he can’t say what his next move or plans are, but he did give a run down on what’s coming up for the summer. “I just did the Lil Uzi Vert concert with Animal House and Skully’s at capacity [with Ladies Love Launy].” He’s also been throwing day parties in the Arena District, and weekly happy hours at Avalon, another club under the XO umbrella.
Remembering something else he would want others to keep in mind, LaVelle also says not to let others deter you. People have negatively commented on the viability of being a promoter, but because it was something he knew he was good at, it didn’t steer him away. “Back when I was in school, people were looking at me funny because it was an unconventional job,” he says. Now, you could say, he has the last laugh.
“The tables have turned, and it’s cool to be a social entrepreneur now and do your own thing.”