Who is Mandi Galer, could you please introduce yourself?
Hi! I’m Miss Mandi… that’s how I’ve become known over the many years I’ve been teaching lessons and Kindermusik in South Mississauga. In fact, I’ve often run into previous clients in the grocery store calling me Miss Mandi!
I’m a music educator, professional musician (singer/keyboardist) with an emphasis on jazz, soul and R&B, and a relatively new mom. Born in Toronto and raised in Mississauga, the GTA will always feel like home. I’m a sucker for a good bottle of wine, chocolate, superhero movies, live music, dancing and concerts!
What is your business and when did you start?
I run a music school in Clarkson, Mississauga: Sing Music Studio. The business first began as a sole proprietorship in 2006 and graduated to Sing Music Studio Inc. in 2019. Our official grand opening to our first commercial space was on September 7th, 2019. We provide one-on-one music lessons for children through adults, Kindermusik for ages 0-7, parent focused and child focused on and off-site workshops, camps and birthday party entertainment.
What inspired you to start your business?
As a musician, I was looking for more steady income that remained within my field. I was passionate about music and have always had a strong connection with young children (I spent time volunteering in a Kindergarten, working as a nanny and even took a year of ECE at Ryerson prior to graduating with honours from Humber College’s jazz music program) so teaching music was a natural path. I also felt there was a real lack of professional musicians instructing very young students. Most of us tend to instruct students at the upper elementary and secondary levels. I discovered the incredible Kindermusik program, began training, attended a huge Kindermusik conference in North Carolina and a new flame was ignited! When I returned from the trip, I registered my business and began teaching Kindermusik in addition to lessons (while still performing of course) and never looked back! It was always a huge goal for me to open my own commercial music school. 2019 was a pretty big year for me achieving 2 of my greatest life goals. The renovation for my commercial space began and my daughter were born the very same week.
What were the challenges in the initial stages of your business and how did you overcome them?
It’s kind of twofold as I feel like Sing Music Studio had a birth and then a rebirth.
At the very beginning, I would say money was the biggest challenge and lack of support. There were some big personal life changes at the time leaving me with almost no support network of friends/family. Though my mom was the most integral and is still a key person in my life. Honestly, I just dug my heels in and ate/slept and breathed work. I was truly a workaholic spending all of my time on my business, learning and implementing all the facets: marketing, finances, admin, connecting with the community, learning curricula… the teaching part was easy!
For the rebirth… becoming a first time mom is HARD!!!! Doing it while simultaneously opening a “new” business/taking the business to a new and somewhat foreign level (incorporating, renovating, corporate taxes, dealing with lawyers, hiring instructors… and rehiring instructors… and managing a team, and…and…)
I honestly look back and still wonder how I did it. There were many days filled with tears and many days elated. I am lucky to now have an INCREDIBLE support network of an amazing life partner, friends, family (of course including my MOM) who have lifted me up in so many ways both with helping out at work and at home. IT TAKES A VILLAGE!
What motivates you about your business?
Connecting with our families, sharing my passion for music with others and those lightbulb moments when you see a student grow, change, understand and achieve success – that’s the win right there. I considered myself a mom long before I technically became one. The best compliment is when a student calls me mommy – heart melting.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be passionate and knowledgeable about what you do. Know your strengths and your weaknesses. Utilize your strengths, delegate your weaknesses. Communication is key. It’s all about relationship building and connections.
Interesting fact most of the people do not know about you?
I bartended for 7 years after college, 3-4 of which were spent living in the Town of the Blue Mountains while attempting to take a hiatus from the Toronto music industry. I ended up guesting with every band that played our venue and 2 years in I was already commuting back and forth to the city for gigs. Music is in my blood!
The best business advice I ever received was…
Set your personal working hours and stick to them. There has to be balance and you shouldn’t be available all of the time!
My definition of success is…
having a business that not only feels like a family in itself but allows me to prioritize my family, continue to perform and make enough income to live comfortably and travel.
If I could go back in time when I started my business, I would tell myself to…
Set boundaries and find the work/life balance.
Three books I recommend for entrepreneurs are…
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
Baby Bare by Stephanie Johnson
My personal tagline is…
Listen, connect, communicate and dazzle! Enliven the passion (in music and life) in those around you.