LINEUP Spotlight: Nada Alkadi
The Many Faces of Nada Alkadi
All Images credited to @lostfil3, check him out on instagram
There are many out there who curate looks and sell clothes, but not everyone does it like Nada. There are many out there that DJ, but then again, not everyone does it like Nada. She has a unique journey, that has clearly put her in the position to stand out and offer something new. Topping that off, she has unparalleled marketing skills, a clear vision for what she wants, and confidence combined with good business acumen. To put it lightly, Nada Alkadi is a beast–with multiple dimensions, and that's exactly why we want you to get to know her.
My name is Nada Alkadi and I’m a 24 year old Egyptian woman. I immigrated with my family to the states when I was 7 years old. Since then i’ve been molded by the unique experience of growing up as an Arab American, not quite Arab enough for the Arabic community yet not American enough for people from the states. Being in this state of “cultural limbo” as I like to call it, has inspired me creatively and has been one of the driving forces behind many of my entrepreneurial ventures. I’m excited by the unknown future, I adapt to any situation with ease, I’m an eternal student of life, and that's why I consider myself a budding entrepreneur.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur, an artist, a DJ?
Nada: I consider myself as a DJ and a digital marketer. My passion is music, specifically hip hop, and that's what drove me to pursue my goal of learning how to dj. It’s something I talked about often with my close friends but it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I decided to take action and dive head first into learning the craft. I purchased my first control and with the help of my friend (s/o dj red) I learned the basics. I would practice for hours in my apartment, watching youtube video after video on beatmatching often frustrated that my blends sounded awful. I kept pushing and my love for music is what carried me through those first few months of feeling like I was never going to get the hang of the dj software.
As for digital marketing, that’s my hard skill. After graduating with a degree in psychology I took a sharp turn into the world of internet marketing. I got my first official 9-5 job at a startup internet marketing agency called Smarter Searches and I was immersed into online advertising. I had only 4 co-workers including my boss so there was no such thing as “thats not my job.” It was an incredible experience because my desk was literally right next to my CEO and someone i consider as my mentor, Courtney Herda, so every day at work i was soaking up all everything she would teach us about online advertising. My role was the social media analyst and I was her first hire for this role, so there was no job description or blueprint, I had to learn as I go (which is pretty much the overarching theme of my life). I learned what specifically influenced people to click on a post, people’s purchasing behaviors when they were on social media, and how to build brands a distinct voice online. I was in charge of running social media accounts for 12 different companies ranging from law firms to distilleries to clothing boutiques. I noticed patterns and I was tracking the success of the posts. I realized I had a natural knack for internet marketing and that’s when I decided I was going to take a stab at doing it for myself, and that's when I came up with my online vintage store Holy Thrift. (holythiftvintage.com)
So with that, Tell us a little bit more about holythirft, how it started, what you're up to, is it really thifting or did it just start out that way?
Holy Thrift is my baby. Growing up in an immigrant household meant that my parents didn’t have much money when they initially moved to the states. My dad was a PHd student living on a small stipend, he had big goals for the life he wanted for us and it all started with him getting his Phd. During that time my mom (the original thrift queen) would take me to goodwill with her to try on clothes. We couldn’t afford to shop at the mall at the time so thrift stores were the main place we’d get our clothes, toys, and household items. Essentially thrifting is in my DNA. I remember feeling embarrassed to be wearing second hand, I was too young to fully understand the sacrifices my family had to make to give us the life we now have. Flash forward to high school and I rarely stepped foot in a mall. Even though my family had the means to buy me regular clothes, I was a thrifter at heart. I loved going to a thrift store and picking out a vintage leather jacket that no one at school had, I didn’t want to dress the same as everyone else, I didn’t care about labels, I just wanted to have fun and play around with different styles. I was in the thrift store at least once a week and developed a huge collection over the years. So I married my hobby of thrifting with my new found digital marketing knowledge and that’s when Holy Thrift was born.
The idea behind my the store is that so many people don’t know how to shop for vintage. They step in a thrift store and are overwhelmed by the clutter and the chaos of it all and end up turning around and leaving. The problem I solve is that I can walk into a thrift store, scan every rack and within an hour I’ll walk out with at least 4 bags full of goodies. I can do this because I've had years and years of practice. Holy Thrift makes thrift shopping convenient because I do the scouring for my customers. Every item in my store is one of a kind, once it’s sold it’s gone for good.
So being that it is a thift-based brand, how do you stand out?
What makes me stand out from resell brick and mortar shops like bad grannies is that i’m primarily online. I’m reselling vintage yes, but I’m doing it on a modern platform and the aesthetic that I have for my online store is similar to online stores such as Nasty gal or Missguided. The goal is to take the clutter and sense of feeling overwhelmed by displaying my products on a clean and aesthetically appealing website so my girls can shop with ease, and enjoy the process. The girls that shop at Holy Thrift are between the ages of 18-25 and lead pretty busy lives, they don’t have time to sift through a second hand shop for hours and do most of their shopping online. They want unique one of a kind vintage and HolyThriftvintage.com makes that convenient. I did a lot of research prior to launching my site and no one in the online marketplace is doing vintage resell with the approach i’m currently taking.
So let's talk about your new dynamic. Tell us all about your DJ Career, the usual how/what/why/when/where's.
I’m a music snob, I’ve been that way since I can remember. I got sick of going out and hearing dj’s play the same old 20 songs, and in Knoxville where I first started djing no one was playing new hip hop like young thug or Migos. It was mostly top 40 and the most rap we would really hear was whatever Drake song was charting on the radio. That's what really pushed me to go for it, I knew there was so much music out there that people should be hearing but weren’t so I just decided I was going to take control and be the best new school hip hop dj Knoxville had. It’s funny because whenever people ask me why I decided to become a dj I always tell them that I just got tired of going to parties where the music was shitty.
First time you ever did a live set? How'd it go?
I remember when I got confident enough in my skills to do a live gig at this hole in a wall college bar, the Hill. My friends all came out to see me and it ended up being me djing to 12 of my friends and i’ll never forget how much fun that night was. After that night I went full force. I would walk along the campus strip from club to club and talk to the owners about djing at their spot. I got so many skeptical looks, being a female dj in Knoxville Tennessee wasn’t a thing, I never met a single one the six years I lived there. Thankfully a handful of club owners gave me a shot and by summer of 2015 I had regular gigs at 3 local clubs. Then I landed my first dj residency at Uptown, one of the main clubs in the city and that’s when I officially fell in love with djing and knew this was something I was going to be doing for a while. I’m constantly chasing the high of djing a packed out spot on a Saturday night, making people dance their asses off to the sounds that I love, it’s my drug.
Best show yet?
Biggest show yet has been having my own set at Migos, but nothing so far has topped Saturday nights at Uptown, a Knoxville club.
Do you have any icons that you look up to? Have you met any of them that had a lasting impression on what you're doing?
There aren't many female DJs out here in OKC. Do you find that makes it easier for you or harder? Are you taken seriously? Do you get support out here?
Both. It makes it easier in terms of recognition, people look up at the Dj booth and see a girl and they get curious and come up to me and ask for my name because it is so rare. I strongly believe if I was a guy I would have a much harder time getting gigs because there are so many male dj’s out there and it’s much harder for them to get that recognition. I will say though being a woman in a male dominated field does suck sometimes, I’m always feeling like I am walking on eggshells with club owners, other top male dj’s, and can’t bruise their egos along the way because it will cost me gigs. I bite my tongue a lot in this industry. That’s a shitty position to be in and male dj’s may not always get how tough that is for us. I also feel like I have to keep proving myself as a legitimate dj because so many people are skeptical that I can even mix music, and then when I get up there and set everything up and actually do my thing they are surprised and that can be pretty offensive that there was so much doubt around my ability to do my job well just because of my gender.
Are you ever planning on making your own music as well?
As of now i’m really focused on honing my craft as a dj, in the future once I feel like I mastered all aspects of the craft I want to get into producing. I get bored easily so once I feel like i’ve mastered something I want to challenge myself to learn something new.