Donna Kirke - Legacy Vocal Coaching
Conversations like the one I had with Donna are really hard to keep to just one article...hence the three parts! Her genuine love of what she does is so evident in her voice and her facial expression - and makes me see that it is possible to find fulfilment in one’s work.
“When you do it day in day out”, Donna said, “you can slip into the mindset of feeling like it’s yet another voice to evaluate,, and having to send the invoices out…It soon starts to feel like work, and I lose touch with the reason I am doing it. You can’t buy that expression on someone’s face when they surprise themselves, and I get to do that every single day. That is the best part.
Donna is still working very closely with Anita Frost and the Curricula and Co team, but had a break when life got busy for a time. The work they did together when Legacy started was a lot of preparation for what was to come - getting the right foundations set up, and making sure it was planned thoroughly. More recently, Donna has been focusing more on the exciting stuff like marketing and thinking about growth and expansion, in terms of what things will look like in the next few years. It all started with the setup and the launch, and currently, Legacy is in a phase of rapid growth and development, which Donna describes as a “growth spurt”.
On the other side of this, there will be new levels to work towards.
“It’s so helpful to have someone who knows what the next stage looks like, and the practicality of how to manage that. This is exactly what I pay Curricula and Co for - these are important things that I don’t really know. What does our IT system need to be like, and our accounts management, in the next stage?
Online community is something else that Donna is interested in developing in the near future. She spotted a fitness company online, and the infrastructure they had, including their own Facebook page, and regular video calls. She believes that this sort of community would give the singers she trains the opportunity to talk more to each other, and even allow Donna to set up shows for them to perform in. Another big part of building the Legacy brand that is under way right now is the creation of branded merch - hoodies, mugs, pens, etc...to spread the word, and make it a real brand that people can be a part of.
An overall longterm vision is the backbone of any business, and Donna maintains hers consistently. As well as being something she can refer back to, and being the general direction of the business, her vision for legacy has some room to shift and change to a certain degree as the business evolves. But the overarching mission of Legacy will always be to help people grow and help them find their unique voice. This is something she has to keep reminding herself of, especially as she is working with people who are at different stages of their process…
“Some people have big dreams and want to do big things like be in the West End, and I am there to try and help them get there. There are beginners who want to increase their confidence, and then there are those with big dreams - I am the gap between the dream and where they are currently at, and I have the tools to help get them over that bridge. I am reminded of that vision every time I step into my studio, and see the logo on the wall. Whatever I chose to do would always have been about building people up and investing in them. It’s always been about people”.
Curricula and Co are performing two key roles in Donna’s business. Firstly and most importantly, they are helping her to stay focused and accountable through regular meetings. She explains that if those frameworks were not in place, she would start plodding along, and letting things like marketing slip aside. She would drift along at a nice pace, and would soon reach a plateau. “I’d start thinking ‘this is nice, I don’t want to grow, I don’t need to get bigger. They remind me to stay focused on what my goals are, and what the next steps need to be. Every meeting, I get some homework and every time I do that, it takes me closer to my next goal”.
Another equally important function they provide is helping out with things that Donna is not familiar with, such as accounting, and operational processes. This is vital, as she could be missing something legal that is highly important, and if she was not in communication with the Curricula and Co team, she would never know! This could be something like missing the importance of data protection, or safeguarding.
In regards to marketing, for example, Donna was getting a lot of people visiting her website, but was not getting any clicks, or leads. At this point, Anita Frost stepped in and guided Donna through the “customer journey”. She gave her a few simple instructions, and Donna was pleasantly surprised to find over 10 enquiries and some signups!
A little bit of inside knowledge can go a long way! Curricula and Co’s methods are proven to work, and this is why Donna is still working with them after all this time.
This next part made me smile a lot…
Donna explained to me that a group of sixth form students on work experience, who were working with Curricula and Co on their Employability Academy were drafted in to revamp and upgrade the Legacy website. They did a fantastic job, and Donna was delighted. Their fresh take on things, their creativity and enthusiasm served them well.
So, what’s next for Donna?
The immediate plan is for her to fill her diary to the point where she is totally full and cannot take on any more students, and will need a student teacher to take on some beginners to free Donna up to take on more newcomers. At some point, this will mean giving up that Wednesday at Heather Baker’s studio, and freeing that extra time up. The next step after that will be to look at renting a bigger space, ideally with room for more growth…