Tampa Housewives: Tell us about your business and how you became the successful businesswoman you are today.
Laura Hollis: My “grown-up plan” after college was to perform. My degree was in Opera, and I love the stage. So one of my professors set up a small tour for me after graduation. But I didn’t like it. Not the way I thought I would at least. I loved singing and being on stage. But that lifestyle just wasn’t for me.
I started teaching a few private students at the ripe old age of 22 to just bide my time until I solved my apparent quarter-life crisis. Very quickly, my schedule was full. I was super busy! After 2 years, I was not only busy but pregnant. I assumed that after my baby was born, people would stop referring me to their friends and neighbors.
But it was the opposite. I was turning down new clients on a weekly basis. I soon became frustrated, considering all of the potential income I was turning down. But I didn’t know how to expand. I kept thinking about taxes and contracts and how I don’t know anything about those things. I told myself I would set up some interviews to hire an additional teacher as a fun experiment. But I wouldn’t be hiring anyone because there were just too many unknowns.
But during my last interview, the potential teacher end-capped our time with this sentence: “I can see you’re building something here. And I want to be a part of it.”
Six years later, I employ 20 teachers throughout Hillsborough County and 4 in Miami-Dade County. We have a 6 person, all-women marketing and administration team. I did manage to learn business skills from branding to bookkeeping. And although I did love teaching at the time, successfully running Barrett School of Music even affords me the time to play with my now 6-year-old son in the afternoons. I love my work. I love the life it provides for me. I love that I built it.
Tampa Housewives: Describe yourself in three words.
Laura Hollis: Determined, Thoughtful, and Fun-Loving
Tampa Housewives: What do you consider your greatest professional achievement?
Laura Hollis: Launching Barrett School of Music in Miami (2017)
Tampa Housewives: What are your professional goals for the next six months?
Laura Hollis: Create a franchising wing of Barrett School of Music
Tampa Housewives: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Laura Hollis: I have always loved health care. The idea of helping people take care of and understand their bodies is something I love, so I would enjoy being a pediatrician or maybe even a surgeon. But blood and needles make me pass out!
Tampa Housewives: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Laura Hollis: I think all entrepreneurs would agree, it takes some intentionality to balance work with non-work. For me, I do sometimes work weird hours. I enjoy doing the callbacks for prospective new students, but those calls happen at 5 or 6 pm. So I take a break before that and do something with my family or for myself. I like to read and be outside. Running is also a hobby I enjoy.
In my non-working hours, I make sure to put my phone down. I don’t check my email in the evenings. If I do need to catch up on work, it might have to be at night or on the weekends. But I will set a timer to section off time for the project. That helps me keep some personal space from my job. That way I know I’ll keep loving it!
Tampa Housewives: What websites do you visit every day?
Laura Hollis: Amazon and lots of other shopping sites!
Tampa Housewives: What are your top three favorite people/places/things to do in your city?
Laura Hollis: At least twice a week, I’ll go for a run on the Riverwalk and take my son on his bike. We love the outdoors and being downtown.
I love coffee, and some of my favorite places to visit are the Independent, Spaddy’s and Blind Tiger because they’re all in my neighborhood and locally owned.
Trying out new wine places always excites me too, and lately, I love Fly and Gin Joint. Gin Joint isn’t new, but they’ll always be at the top of my list because their music is also incredible.
Tampa Housewives: What is your goal for retirement?
Laura Hollis: Setting an age to retire scares me a little bit because it’s hard to imagine wanting to stop working entirely. But my goal is to be able to work less as soon as I want to work less. I want to be able to work from any country in the world that I choose. Luckily, that’s a goal I’ve already reached! We travel quite a bit, and I love that flexibility.
When I’m totally tired of working, I want to have built Barrett School of Music up enough that I can sell it quickly and easily to an excellent business owner.
Tampa Housewives: Do you have any advice for women who’d like to start their own company?
Laura Hollis: Before I started Barrett School of Music, I felt like I didn’t know enough. Now when I look back, I completely took for granted my background in sales. I can’t recommend a sales job enough! Even if it’s just 6 months working at the mall. People skills and communication skills go a long way in every industry.
Name of Business: Barrett School of Music
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website URL: https://musicschoolintampa.com/
Business Facebook Page URL: https://www.facebook.com/thebarrettschool
Business Instagram URL: https://www.instagram.com/barrettschoolofmusic/