I certainly wasn't one of the cool kids when I was in high school, and I don't know if Alisha Wheatley was either, but she sure is now. By day she's running the interwebs site for Spalding U, but in her spare time, she's co-founder of Derby City IT, a former roller girl, a Lebowski Fest enthusiast, a chick with some of the coolest tattoos I've seen... and so much more. One of the cool kids, indeed... let's face it, if you're stepmom to a high school senior, you've probably graduated to twin-sets and bathing suits with skirts-- unless you're Lorelei Fraking Gilmore... or Alisha Wheatley.
I have a total crush on anyone who can make entrepreneurship work, so this week I give you our next Awesome Louisvillager: Alisha Wheatley.
LOU: Tell us about Derby City IT. What services do you provide? What is Derby City IT's mission?
First off, thanks for including me in this series! I really admire all of these folks and am proud to among them.
Derby City IT is a two person operation that specializes in IT support and web development for local small and non-profit businesses. We basically came about when my friend Charles and I decided to merge our freelance businesses into a one stop shop for folks who have big dreams and small budgets. We each have more than a decade of experience working in the non-profit sector, which affords us a thorough understanding of the unique challenges non-profits face and the audiences they serve. We are extremely bare bones, keeping the overhead as low as possible so we can provide the most bang for your already overstretched buck. Our mission is to do good work for good people using good stewardship of resources as our guide.
LOU: You wrote your master's thesis about Lebowski Fest. What was the thesis of your thesis and how did you decide upon Lebowski Fest as your subject?
I'd like to clarify just quickly that I took the research option for my Masters degree, so the fest paper wasn't actually a thesis, but it was the capstone project for my final class. Now that the technicalities are out of the way... :) My master's is in Media Studies from The New School. My final class was called Electronic Media and Live Performance. In that class we tried to find that line, that sometimes agonizingly thin line, between live performance and electronic media. In a realm where electronic multimedia has become so entangled with live performance, how much "liveness" is necessary for an event to count as "live." Does the presence of electronic media diminish or elevate the liveness? With this floating around in my noggin, I decided to study Lebowski Fest as a recursive live event, a temporary community of live performance inspired by a mediated object. I was fascinated by the fact that this live event, inspired by a media object, featured the live appearance of the actual man who served as inspiration for a character in said media object. The thought of it all made my media-nerd brain sizzle and pop with glee, so it seemed the obvious choice for my project.
LOU: If you could change Lebowski Fest in some way-- here in Louisville-- what changes would you make and why?
The folks at Lebowskifest HQ made a wonderful change this year. They set it up so that the event, in its entirety, could be enjoyed at one location. That made a huge difference in the flow of events and made for a really exhaustingly fun weekend. My only request would be that it not be so hot, but I'm just a wuss when it comes to heat.
LOU: You have a pretty great "day job"-- why did founding and working for Derby City IT appeal to you?
I do have a great day job, but when Derby City IT first formed, my co-founder did not. Joining forces has allowed him to craft his dream job. Combining our strengths was also a boon to our existing freelance clients who needed more than either one of us alone could offer. I like being able to better serve them, and help them reach their goals. I also have to admit that the thought of being president of my own company was more than just a little attractive. :)
LOU: Finally, what is the best thing about living in Louisville?
Mint Juleps. KIDDING Hands down, the best thing about this town is the people. I am constantly amazed by the depth of compassion, creativity, talent, ingenuity and support in this community. I'm getting a little choked up over here just thinking about it.
Contact Alisha and learn more about her and the business through the Derby City IT website.