Sol Trevino is searching for her eye pencil. She rifles through three or four zippered makeup bags, then sorts through a big pink case full of cosmetics. “I just had it, and it’s the perfect one!” she sighs, continuing the search. She finally spots it, settles back onto her couch with satisfaction and starts doing her eye makeup.
She’s the founder of the Yakima marketing and entertainment company She Bully, and she’s got a show to put on in just 48 hours — the Totally ‘80s concert at the Capitol Theatre with Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, and Downtown Julie Brown. Ramping up for a show is when things can get chaotic.
Nearly every surface in her apartment is covered in concert supplies. Lanyards for guests in the VIP area, giant bags of ‘80s snacks and candies, decorations, posters, and Victoria’s Secret bags bulging with swag. She apologizes profusely for the mess as she checks the messages and calls constantly buzzing into her phone. She works like an octopus, doing eight things at once.
She’s come a long way from picking asparagus and Concord grapes on her dad’s farm in Sunnyside.
Sol, 40, has always loved music, and started in radio when she was still in high school, hosting the Soul Jams program on a public radio station in Granger. After graduation, she moved across the mountains, where she got a degree in Music Business from the Art Institute of Seattle. She quickly learned that the money in the radio business is in sales, and from there, she moved into promotions, which was an even better fit for her personality. Her work took her to San Antonio, Texas for six years but she says it was tough being away from family. “I could only come home twice a year. I’m very family oriented, so it was really hard. My grandmother passed away while I was in San Antonio and I couldn’t get home quick enough. The plane got delayed and I was just a wreck – I wanted to be home.”
So she came back, and started doing marketing and media buying for Legends Casino in Toppenish. “My experience in selling worked out. I married what I did in radio with the promotional stuff … we’d facilitate concerts, VIP parties, all these different types of events.”
She continued to move up the ladder, landing a job as the Marketing Manager at the Shoalwater Bay Casino in Tokeland, on the Washington coast. It was there that she realized she had a talent for putting on shows. “It was my responsibility to put on all these events and I put on this Fourth of July concert. Of course I had help … but when I was walking out I thought – Holy crap! I just put on a concert by myself.”
It was a great gig, but it was another job far away from family. She would come home to the Yakima Valley on weekends, but the trip back over the mountains on Sunday night always loomed in her mind. Her boyfriend told her he could see how much it was affecting her. He said “I can hear it in your voice. You turn darker,” she remembers. “I got so miserable my boyfriend said ‘You should just quit.’ I said ‘I don’t have a job!’ I never thought I could be that person that could work for myself. I’ve always worked for other people. He said don’t worry about it. We’ll just start doing shows. We’ll figure it out.”
She starting planning a concert in Aberdeen, with Seattle rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot as the main attraction. It sold out. What she had accomplished didn’t really hit her until that night. “I went to get something out of the car and there was a line around the corner to come in and I wanted to cry. All my hard work paid off.”
Her boyfriend, who is also her business partner, came up with the name She Bully. Sol says “It’s a very male-dominated business, you don’t see many female promoters, not around here anyway.” She says it represents the female empowerment movement. She’s been running the company here in Yakima for about a year now. She thinks our area is missing out on some international acts and she wants to bring more big names here. It’s been years since Cher and Elton John performed at the SunDome, but Macklemore did a show at the Seasons last year. “If you have money, you can get pretty much anybody,” she explains. Charlie Robin, CEO of the Capitol Theatre, says “She has her thumb on the pulse of a whole different array of artists and opportunities. It’s great to have an additional voice in the mix as we look for opportunities for Yakima.”
She says people in our area are picky about what they’ll spend their money on, and she’s still trying to find out exactly what the Valley wants. So far, country and comedy have been big draws. Above all, she wants to put on spectacular shows. “It’s really about the fan experience. That’s why I do it. I want people to have a good time, to feel like that ticket was worth the money. People know when it’s a She Bully show, it’s going to have amazing sound and good entertainment — it’s not going to disappoint.”
It’s not easy putting on a show. First, she picks an act. Then, she contacts their agent, and if they can agree on a date, they negotiate a price. Then, she buys media to promote the show. She handles travel, security and hospitality (dressing room supplies) for the band, insurance, ground transportation, and sometimes lodging. She has to pay for the venue rental, labor costs associated with venue, like ushers and ticket booth workers, any employees she hires, and VIP area supplies.
She continues to work as a contractor for casinos here in Eastern Washington. She buys media for the three casinos owned by the Colville Tribe, and does entertainment booking for Legends Casino. It’s a lot of work. When she’s got a show coming up, she can put in as many as 70 hours a week.
Legends General Manager Letisha Peterson says “Sol spent years working her way up in the Valley and learning from every opportunity, including her time as a Legends Casino team member. She left our community to hone her skills as the marketing director of a casino on the coast, and now she’s returned not only to start a new chapter in her career but with the express purpose of bringing something home.”
Sol still needs the help of financial investors in order to put on shows. Her dream is to finance the shows herself, and hire some full-time people. “If you were to ask me five years ago what I was going to do for a living I wouldn’t have said this,” she laughs. But she says it’s the perfect job for her. She encourages anyone who thinks they could strike out on their own — to follow their dream. “If you feel like you want to work for yourself, you can do it … you don’t have to have a boss. I may not work in an office and clock in and clock out, but I tell you, you work so much harder for yourself. Especially when it’s your name on it.”