Here at Chrome City we pride ourselves in having ultra-creative and inspiring homies throughout the Chicago and San Diego area. Each month we feature a new individual highlighting his/her vibrant story, brand, mission or projects. Meet this month’s #ChromeHomie, Francesca Fontenot!
Francesca Fontenot, Program Manager at Twitter, DJ & event curator
Q: We recognize you as a woman of multiple professions and talents. How do you balance your work as a Program Manager at Twitter as well as your endeavors as a DJ and event curator?
A: Time management is everything. As a program manager, I have to juggle multiple projects and work streams at any given time, and I use that approach more broadly in my life. Daily to-do lists, setting aside focused blocks of time on my calendar and limiting distractions like social media, binge watching and internet browsing are a few methods that I’ve adopted. I recently read a book called Make Time, which motivated me to optimize how I spend my time.
Q: When did you begin DJing and how has it impacted your life and your career?
A: I started DJing about 3 years ago when I enrolled in lessons at Scratch DJ Academy. Since then, I’ve been able to build connections with my supporters & clients, work with iconic brands like Chanel, Nike & Google, and give back to the community by partnering with organizations like #hashtaglunchbag and the Obama Foundation. It’s provided a creative outlet that allows me to express myself & share my passion for music by uniting people from all walks of life at my events. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
Q: When curating events, what elements do you feel are most important in making an event successful or memorable?
A: The crowd can make or break your event so it’s imperative to connect with them. I am always very appreciative of anyone who comes to support my events and I express this by making the experience as seamless as possible whenever I can-- whether that means not charging cover, adding them to my guest list, giving them shoutouts, buying drinks or sharing my bar tab, etc. This also means being in tune with what they want to hear and adjusting your set to appeal to them, while still being authentic to yourself & your own musical taste.
Q: Who/what are some inspirations that drive your work?
A: I get a lot of inspiration by browsing music on Soundcloud and listening to emerging artists, remixes/edits and other DJ mixes.
Q: Which songs or artists are at the top of your playlist?
A: Ahh so many! My latest favorite album releases are from Ari Lennox, Solange, Steve Lacy, Ella Mai, Goldlink & Tyler the Creator. Other artists that are usually in heavy rotation are Ty Dolla $ign, Tribe Called Quest, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey. I also gotta rep for my hometown heroes like Jeezy, T.I., Travis Porter, D4L, Outkast and so many others.
Q: How would you describe Chicago’s current music scene?
A: I think Chicago has one of the most diverse music scenes. You can tell that a lot of artists originating from Chicago carve out their own lanes by straying away from the typical genre ‘norms’, which has given birth to genres like drill, house, juke and this fusion of neo-soul/hip-hop that we’re seeing with artists like Noname, Jamilah Woods and Smino.
Q: After a busy week, how do you choose to relax on your days off?
A: I LOVE getting messages from my massage therapist, Iman Riley at HI Hands. I also enjoy meeting up with friends over a good meal and taking cell phone/social media breaks. Although I understand the benefits of social media, especially as someone who works at a social media company like Twitter, I feel more relaxed & balanced when my consumption is limited to intentional & functional purposes.
Q: Huge congrats for being featured in Crain’s Chicago Business #40Under40 list! Is there any aspect of your career you feel most accomplished thus far?
A: By being the co-chair of Twitter’s black employee resource group, @Blackbirds, I forged connections with black ERGs at other top companies in Chicago to form Blacks Excelling in Sales & Tech to drive inclusion & diversity efforts at a larger scale for the industry & community. Through these experiences, I’m now transitioning away from over a decade working in integrated marketing to become an Inclusion & Diversity Program Manager at Twitter.
Q: As the warm weather is fast approaching, is there anything you’re looking forward to most this summer?
1. I’m looking forward to curating a summer festival in partnership with Ace Hotel on their outdoor terrace! Save the date for Sunday 7/21.
2. I’m looking forward to traveling! I’ll be DJing in Italy for the first time in September.
3. I can’t wait to walk around the city instead of relying on cabs, trains, and buses to get around. I love the feeling of walking around in warm weather while listening to relaxing music.
Thanks for being a Chrome Homie Francesca!