Success means… getting paid to do what you love and changing lives on the way.
Three adjectives that deserve me are... passionate, determined, and caring.
You can’t run a business without… sacrifice, self-discipline, and support.
In the next 10 years I will be… teaching and performing music around the world.
I am the founder and president of Keiko Studios Music Academy where we offer lessons to children and adults on a wide variety of instruments (vocals included), group lessons, preschool music, ensembles, and even music technology ie. DJing and music production. Keiko Studios is different from your average music school because we incorporate technology in everything we do, and we have HD monitors in every room. We also have a beautiful state of the art facility that serves as rental space for events. As the president of the company I am responsible for all day-to-day management decisions and implementing the company's long and short term plans. As a teacher at the studio I have about 20 piano students on a weekly basis. I am also a saxophonist/pianist and perform all over NYC for various events and venues.
Music has always been a driving force in my life, and being able to share that gift with others at the young age of 15 was truly a blessing that ignited the spark in me to build my own academy at age 25. Music has the ability to change lives and I believe that is what I am doing here on a daily basis.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur? Is having your own business something you always wanted to have?
I was motivated to become an entrepreneur by my parents. They never pushed me towards the venture though; I’ve observed them and worked with them for most of my life and learned how rewarding it can be to own a business and provide a positive resource for the community. My parents are the owners of Zen Masters, a martial arts studio in St. Albans, Queens, NY. They opened the school when I was about 11 years old and throughout my years there I worked as a martial arts instructor, summer camp counselor, arts coordinator, demonstration coordinator and piano teacher. This is where my music school began to take form. Working so closely with my parents taught me the ins and outs of running a business and I felt comfortable enough to expand my private piano lessons into a full business.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I am constantly making sacrifices as a business owner. The one thing I sacrifice the most is my time. My studio is in it’s very early stages, as we’ve only been open for 3 months, so I find myself working around the clock to make sure everything is running smoothly. I work in the morning before I get to the studio, I’m there from 11am - 8pm, and I work when I get home. On top of all of this I have been performing all over New York City to help get the word out about my studio. Not only does it take time and energy to perform, but it takes a lot of practice to prepare for the gigs, which I often do when I get home from work. Since most of my time and energy is going towards my work I don’t have much time for hanging out with friends, which has been another sacrifice. I am hoping that this will change as the business grows and my employees become more comfortable with their roles.
Was it difficult get capital/investors? Has anyone underestimated you as a female entrepreneur? If yes, how did you handle it?
Prior to opening my business I did a fundraiser on Kickstarter.com where I acquired donors (not investors). Kickstarter was a great platform to share my story and the huge endeavor I was undertaking to move Keiko Studios into a new location. The task of raising money is not an easy one though. People are not willing to donate their money unless they believe in you and your dream. Also, Kickstarter is all or nothing, which means if you don’t reach your funding goal within 30 days you will not receive anything! This really pushed me to work around the clock to reach my goal of $10,000 by performing everywhere I possibly could, advertising online, making phone calls, etc. Some people whom I thought would be huge supporters and donate to my project ended up letting me down. But all-in-all the fundraiser was a huge success and I was able to recruit 103 people to donate a total of $13,019!
What are some pros and cons of having (OR not having) entrepreneurial parents?
One of the cons about having entrepreneurial parents is that it is hard to disconnect from work while at home. We end up talking about work all the time. Sometimes we have to remind each other that we’re on vacation or it’s the weekend so that we can give ourselves a break from discussing something work related. Another con is that my parents have been in business for years and they have developed their own way of doing things that I may like to do a bit differently in my business.
The pros are never having to take a business class because my parents are the professors! I can always call them when I need advice and ask for their opinion. They’ve helped me so much that my mother is officially the vice president of Keiko Studios.
What is your proudest accomplishment of this year? What are you looking forward the most in the next 12 months?
My proudest accomplishment this year was opening my new location! After a year of preparing and remodeling we finally opened on January 2, 2018. I was so proud of myself and the teamwork of my family/support system to finally be sitting at the front desk and enrolling students. I am looking forward to seeing our school grow in the next 12 months. With each new enrollment I feel excitement and I couldn’t be more happy to bring music education to my community!