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Work hard, play hard — that seems to be the unofficial motto for new San Luis Obispo-based events promotion company, Positive Vibe. The company started in March 2013 as a joint venture between Cal Poly graphic communication senior Eric Smejkal and then-Cuesta student Ryan Parra.
A typical day for co-owner Smejkal includes waking up early to draft social media posts, answer and send emails, research talent for events and music blog posts, as well as fitting in time for homework, class and the gym.
Smejkal and Parra describe the company as a lifestyle brand with many different aspects involved. First and foremost are the events, mostly music-related, that they promote. The other two facets are an apparel line that markets the brand as a whole and the music blog that aims to build a community on the website.
“We base our whole mission on good energy, good people and building symbiotic relationships–helping each other out,” Smejkal said. “We are not as cutthroat as a lot of other companies are. We do that through things that bring people together, like music.”
Though the company was started in San Luis Obispo, Positive Vibe has promoted and planned events elsewhere, such as Hollywood, Modesto, Calif. and Bend, Ore.
“My business partner, Ryan, wanted to throw events in Modesto because it is kind of sketchy there,” Smejkal said. “He wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t be sketchy or scary for anyone, so it would be a nice, positive environment.”
Promoted events have mainly featured electronic dance music (EDM) artists such as Protohype, Andrew Luce, Rise At Night, Starane, Survival Tactics and DJ Kinetick. However, Smejkal said they are willing to expand to other music genres, such as hip-hop and alternative rock.
Researching artists to factor in their potential, price point and past show experience is one of the most valuable skills Smejkal has learned during this whole experience.
Constantly working on improving brand recognition, booking musical talent, writing music blog posts and other odd jobs at Positive Vibe has changed Smejkal’s attitude regarding what he wanted to do after college.
“I was focused on school a bunch and then going out and having fun with friends,” Smejkal said. “This made me realize that if you want to do something, you have to work hard. There is no sitting around while something happens, you have to get up and do it.”
However, Smejkal’s main role in the company is brand management. His graphic communication training has helped him design professional flyers and apparel, and his concentration in management has helped him organize other promoters working for the company.
One of the promoters Smejkal manages is graphic communication senior Logan Spittler. Spittler originally helped Smejkal with designs for the company, but has since moved on to helping promote the events themselves.
“(Smejkal) has this big-dream feel to him,” Spittler said. “He wants to put out a positive vibe within everything he does.”
One of the first things Spittler did to help the company was greet guests at a show Positive Vibe was promoting at The Graduate. He helped make sure the event was running smoothly and everyone was having a good time.
A lesson Spittler has learned while working for Positive Vibe is the fine line between the business of promoting events and the events themselves.
“Mixing work and play is kind of difficult to some extent,” he said. ‘There are guys that like to fiesta a lot more than I do, and they will get caught up in the fiesta and the girls that are around or whatever else. You have to separate the two, or at least, it works better when you do.”
Parra has also seen the divide between business and parties when friends want to become involved with the company.
“I have a ton of friends that want to help out and want nothing more than to see us succeed,” Parra said. “We love when people want to spread the word about the company, but then when it comes down to do business work, they are not always ready to help with stuff like that.”
Parra’s background is in event promotion. He had a support group in his hometown that made him and his events successful. However, when he moved to San Luis Obispo, he didn’t have that same luxury.
Parra had to build a core following and feel out what music the locals wanted to hear. He found the key to starting a promotion company in a new area is to bring popular artists to that city.
“In order to branch out and promote in other cities, our goal is to bring big names,” Parra said. “We want to bring big artists to let them do the talking for us.”
All the revenue they make in the business, whether through apparel sales, ticket sales or other means goes toward booking bigger and better artists. Parra wants to bring those artists to areas that don’t currently have access to them.
“My goal is to try and find a venue that has been untouched and start an event that is going to be annual,” Parra said. “I really like doing stuff in college towns to give students something to do, keep them from getting into trouble.”
Positive Vibe hopes to spread the joy of music in a safe environment to young people.
“You need positivity in all different aspects of your life, whether it is in the gym, in your education, in the workforce,” Parra said. “Life is better in general with a positive mindset.”