We had the good fortune of connecting with William Zakrajshek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi William, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I wouldn’t be sitting here today if I didn’t have some faith in taking risks. From moving away from MN to college to South Dakota or dropping life when an opportunity came to move to San Diego, CA to pursue my dreams. Coming “out” in South Dakota was a real eye opener to the lack of equality in the world, I was still the person they knew the day before but the way they looked at me changed. I couldn’t understand it, so from that day in my college dorm I swore I would make the world a better place for our community. Little did I know what the journey would encompass and is just getting started. Whether it’s moving across the country, telling the world who you are, or starting a new business to spread equality, life isn’t worth living without a little risk.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What set’s OutAt Inc. apart from other businesses is our mission for equality. Whether it’s an in-person LGBTQ+ festival Out at the Fair®, streaming platform OutAt TV, OutAt Music, OutAt app, or OutAt Events, the mission remains the same. Give our community a voice, spread inclusion and equality.
We got where we are today by a lot of determination and not giving up when the world said it was a crazy idea. There have been countless challenges along the way (to) being an LGBTQ+ business. From trying to create a safe place at a normally nontraditional location, like a Fairgrounds. Funding has always been a huge struggle from the start and Out at the Fair® wouldn’t be here today if it was done based on compensation. It’s the moment of having LGBTQ+ youth grab a rainbow flag and toss it in their bags, you ask: “Why did you hide it?” They respond: “We snuck away from our family to come say hi because they wouldn’t agree. So thank you for being here!” Even a band who tells you they have never had the chance to perform “Out” before cause their contracts would always be ripped up. But it’s not just challenges at Fairgrounds or festival locations, there are moments in the business world when you walk into a room being the “LGBTQ+ festival” group and you can tell we aren’t accepted. But those moments don’t get me down, they remind me why we do what we do, and why this is so important. You can’t always base your success on compensation, it’s about the lives you can change, the doors you can open and the rest will come.
Something I have realized in business is that if it was easy, everyone would do it, that there will be days you feel like you can’t go on, but the successes will always shine over the bad days.
I want people to know OutAt Inc was created to open doors for a community that hasn’t always had the same opportunities and spread equality.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well this is easy living in Southern California because when people visit they usually want to hit the beach or just hang out by the pool which is always a relaxing break from the SoCal hussle. I also love to show them the other side and go for a hike at Palomar or Mt Laguna. Nothing like getting lost in the woods on a hike and taking in nature.
But everyone needs to eat so we can’t spend the full week on the hiking trail, in the pool or at the beach and we for sure have some spots I wouldn’t miss. Grab lunch at The Cliff in Laguna Beach, where you can’t go wrong with the Chili Relleno Burger and fries. Plus the view of the ocean and Laguna Beach makes the best backdrop for some vacation selfies/pics. We have to make En Fuego in Del Mar a dinner stop for some of the best Mexican food I have ever had and has been a personal favorite for over 18 years. That’s 3 years before I moved here. They have the best chips and salsa, Chili Relleno w/ Chicken, and margs! Sometimes you still want the taste of SoCal but without leaving the house and Northgate Market has become a staple stop when people are in town. To easily grab everything you need to make the best street tacos, spanish rice and chip & salsa.
After you get a couple margs down and your Uber booked, there are a few stops in Hillcrest every guest wants to hit. First stop would have to be Flicks for a pre-drink and couple shots. Then it’s time for a short walk down the street to Rich’s San Diego to dance the night away to some of my favorite DJ friends. Starting my San Diego life as a DJ in Hillcrest has its advantages when you want to give people the “VIP” experience and I have friends that have only been to Rich’s once and they still tell stories like it was yesterday. But at about 1:40am just before last call it’s time to sneak outside, grab a hot dog from Mateos Hot Dogs and order your Uber before the rush.
After a night out there is only 1 thing that gives people the motivation to get out of bed, it’s homemade egg benedicts from our chickens in the backyard and some mimosas by the pool. Even with a week in SoCal it doesn’t ever feel like enough time because there is so much to see, do, and try to squeeze in while still keeping it relaxing.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It is true when they say it takes a village to build success because OutAt Inc wouldn’t be here without the support of some amazing people, organizations, and partners. I have to say a big thank you to the Fairs who saw our mission as their own and included Out at the Fair® in their programming, San Diego County Fair, California State Fair, Orange County Fair, Santa Clara County Fair, Alameda County Fair, Marin County Fair, Sonoma County Fair, New Mexico State Fair, and Washington County Fair in Hillsboro, OR. Thank you to all the LGBTQ+ talent that has trusted our team to put together a festival we can all be proud of and put in the professional effort that has taken OATF® to where it is today. To Charlie Rosenberg who is the man behind the scenes keeping our technology life moving forward and advancing, thank you for always being there. To the two people who have stood by my side through thick and thin, success or failure, have helped or “forced” me to find a balance between life and work, Caleb Wilkins and Daniel Castaneda I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. There are no better two people to build out OutAt Inc with and move this community in the direction the world sees it going.
Photos were taken by Out at the Fair®, OutAt Inc, or myself.