The Vocal Lab NYC
Annie Pichan didn't have plans to start her own business–but sometimes, life has its own plans. We sat down with the founder of the Vocal Lab to talk about finding fulfillment in doing what you love, some of her favorite tools in growing her business, and how to foster positive relationships with parents.
What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, when running your own business?
Hands down, the day to day operation and bookkeeping. Making sure all of my appointments are booked correctly, payments are made, and emails are answered. Sawyer is making it much easier, I can tell you that!
Tell us in a couple words what motivated you to start the Vocal Lab?
I graduated with a degree in Music Business Management from Berklee College of Music in 2013. I thought I wanted to be a music agent, but after a summer internship at an agency, I decided it wasn’t really my bag. I started teaching a few local kids in my neighborhood, and it felt like the most fulfilling thing I had ever done. I began receiving referrals. Before I knew it, I had a full time business. I didn’t overtly seek to become a teacher, I would say that teaching found me, and the Vocal Lab and Music School found me, and I couldn’t be happier.
What has been the most fulfilling part of your job?
Witnessing my students’ accomplishments over the course of our studies together.
What about your childhood motivated you to stay involved in your passion?
The pure love I always had for music and singing. My parents have also always been a huge support to me, and pushed me to pursue my passions and goals all the way up until now (and they’re still rooting me on, and I couldn’t be more grateful for them)
Best advice for someone just starting out in the children's education space?
Be a problem solver in every capacity, and don’t ever be to proud to do anything. When you’re starting out, you’re paying dues. Pay them and be grateful for them. There are lessons in every aspect of what we do, and it only makes us better as individuals, educators and business owners.
Dream job if you weren't running your business?
I’m grateful to say that I am doing it!
What’s your best “hack” for running your business?
Probably Sawyer! (and Excel)
Who’s your inspiration/hero?
Oprah Winfrey. Doesn’t get much better than her.
What’s your best business resource?
I love, love, LOVE NPR’s “How I Built This” podcast. I’m also a fan of the podcast “Girlboss” with Sophia Amoruso. Both of these podcasts put me in a good place by discussing challenges and setbacks while running your own business.
What’s your advice for communicating with parents?
Total transparency, openness and friendliness. Invite them into the classroom if they like! Be a resource for them. I recently had a parent ask me if I could recommend any dance studios for her daughter to rehearse at. While I am not at all involved in the dance world, I did send her a list of rehearsal spaces that I knew had dance spaces available. Always be willing to help.
How have you made your business stand out?
I established four facets of study (for voice) at the Vocal Lab which include: athleticism, artistry, health and wellness, and therapy. I base my curriculum on these four facets for a well rounded approach, and it’s something I’ve developed over the years throughout my own studies and while teaching others.
How did you build your team?
Mostly my colleagues from Berklee, or referrals from my colleagues.
What business tool could you not live without?
What does success look like to you? Where do you want your business to be in 10 years?
Every student walking out of my door feeling as though they’ve learned something from me that day. I’d like to eventually open a studio/school which would encompass private voice lessons, health and wellness sessions, group classes and an aromatherapy product line (with the help of my sisters – they have their own products I use for opening up my instrument and staying healthy)
How do you maintain your work/life balance?
Exercise! Talking to my family and friends on the phone. Getting together with friends. Making to do lists every Sunday night, and divvying up the tasks by day.