Today we’d like to introduce you to Ariana Ollendick.
Hi Ariana, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I started teaching music lessons out of my grandparent’s basement when I was 16 years old. My grandparents were always my biggest supporters and fans in my life. However, music was always seen as a hobby in my family. It was never to be considered for a “real” career. They stressed the importance of always needing a backup plan. In 2016, I moved from St. Louis to California. I maintained a smaller student base online while going to graduate school for Clinical Mental Health Counseling. At some point, being a musician became my backup plan, and becoming a therapist was the path I had chosen for myself.
The moment I realized that I wasn’t working my passion came to me during my third, very expensive, semester of graduate school. I was sitting in my Career Counseling class and we were taking the assessments that we would one day give to our clients. Everyone kept getting career suggestions such as “therapist,” “social worker,” “school psychologist” and so on… except me. Staring back at me in huge dark blue letters were the words “MUSIC TEACHER.” It was like, I had been sitting in the dark and someone finally turned on the lights.
I went home that evening and spoke with my husband about my revelation. We agreed that the next semester, I would take a break from graduate school and start working in a psychology-related field to get a sense of my professional identity. This helped me learn two very important things about myself. One; I loved working with children and parents. Two; I hated not being in charge. Becoming an entrepreneur was such a natural transition for me. So, I got to work. I worked full-time as a nanny in LA, teaching music on the weekends and writing my business plan in any spare moment I had. I became obsessed.
In February 2020, we moved to Kansas City and I quickly began planning to launch my new business, Pave Creative. We had everything planned out for March 27th, 2020. Two weeks before my big launch, the world shut down due to COVID-19. That’s when the panic set in. The entrepreneurial roller coaster. The highs of “I can do this” and the lows of “what in the world was I thinking?” My husband made me promise that I wouldn’t give up. I wouldn’t quit. And so I threw myself headfirst into making my business full-time. I offered online lessons to students all over the world. I got to work with students in California, New York, North Carolina, and even GERMANY! When I saw my business THRIVE during a pandemic- I knew that this was the path I was meant to be on.
Fast forward to our world slowly opening back up. We opened our home location in August 2021 in Overland Park, KS and we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we have received from our community. Since March 2020, we have served over 250 students, hosted competitions and recitals, and partnered up with some other really incredible businesses in the area. I am filled with gratitude seeing how far we’ve come to these last couple of years.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As with any entrepreneurial pursuit, there will be wins and losses. While the pandemic was an obstacle no one could have ever predicted, it happened and we survived. Throughout that experience, my biggest struggle wasn’t finding new students, making money, or even worrying about the mask mandate. Instead, it was me. I was my biggest obstacle. I had to learn how to get out of my own way. I’m a very Type A personality.
I love to plan, and when things don’t pan out according to plan it causes me stress and anxiety. Starting a business during a pandemic was the most daunting thing I could even think of because there were so many variables outside of my control. I realized that I had the power to pivot my vision and adjust my goals based on what was working, and what wasn’t. By looking at these obstacles as challenges, I was able to focus on finding the solutions. This helped me grow into the business owner that I am today.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Pave Creative: Music Arts and Theatre offers lessons and classes in the Overland Park area. We are best known for the music and acting lessons that we offer. Additionally, we are Girl Scout Community Partners. We host events to help the girls earn their badges while learning about the fine arts. Recently we also began offering electives in music, art, and theatre for homeschool co-ops. We love encouraging students to become more involved with music and arts, and hope to continue providing more performance opportunities for little musicians in our community for years to come!
I am incredibly proud of our students. The resiliency they have shown during the pandemic has certainly surpassed my expectations. We always preach that “the show must go on,” and our students have truly rallied around us during this difficult time for small business owners. I have a four-year-old student who used to be terrified of singing in front of other people. When we sang “God Bless America” at the Kansas City Speedway she was so anxious, that I had to hold her during the performance. That same little girl has shown up to all of our Open Mic and Karaoke Events and sang multiple songs, by herself, in front of strangers.
Another student of mine has autism and becomes overwhelmed really easily by loud noises, bright lights, and too many people. Which is basically any performance or recital atmosphere. However, we walked him through what he could expect and created a smaller less intimidating recital space for him to perform for his friends and family. He did amazing and had the BIGGEST grin on his face when he was taking his bow. He will be performing at our huge Holiday Concert coming up this December. The growth, confidence, and bravery I see within my students fill me with so much pride.
The relationships and culture within our music studio set us aside from our competition. We teach so much more than music: We boost confidence, implement time management skills, show students what it looks like to set goals, and follow through on these. We stress that music should be FUN and not one more thing they have added to their plate. It should be stress-relieving, not stress-inducing. We offer multiple performance opportunities each month for students around our community.
We teach them the importance of being involved with their communities and showing up for each other. The friendships that have formed because of our studio are so beautiful. I love watching our students learn and grow. They inspire me every day to show up and be my best self. I learn more from them than they will ever learn from me.
Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
I want everyone to know how much we appreciate the support as local businesses, especially during a pandemic. This season has been tough on local businesses, so thank you for your support. We teach our students everyday to live authentically and to be unapologetically themselves. Thank you for allowing me to do the same!
- $100/month for a weekly 30-minute studio membership
- $200/month for a weekly 60-minute studio membership
- $25 Instructional Paint Nights for all ages
- $10 Girl Scout Community Partnership Events (GS only)
- Pricing Varies for Classes
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.pavecreative.co
- Instagram: @pavecreative
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/pavecreativeco
- Other: Registration: https://pavecreative.mymusicstaff.com