We here at GOBankingRates want to help get our nation’s small businesses back on their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. To do that, we’re highlighting readers’ favorite small businesses around the country, and shining a spotlight on what makes them special to their customers and their towns.
2021 Small Business Spotlight: Check Out Our Small Business Stories, Plus the Nominated Businesses Near You
In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, we’re featuring Little Rockers, which specializes in music classes for kids and toddlers, as well as private lessons and kids’ party entertainment. Based out of Shrewsbury, New Jersey, founders Chris and Jessie Apple created their business out of a shared passion for singing and performing, and introducing music to both kids and adults. Here, we chat with Jessie about her journey from Broadway to business owner, the timely pivots her company made amid the pandemic and why being an entrepreneur is truly a labor of love.
Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?
Chris and I were both professional performers — he was touring with his band and I was performing in regional theatre and on Broadway — when we met through our “day job” as preschool music teachers. As our love for each other grew, we decided we wanted more control over our lives and we wanted to work together doing it. We thought of what we were good at and what we loved to do, and began writing songs and creating a curriculum for our parent and child music classes for preschoolers. Little Rockers was born.
What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you wanted to be a part of your new business?
As a former general manager of a music school for older kids, I knew that I needed organization, which I actually love. I also knew I needed to understand bookkeeping a little more and was able to use experience from past jobs to know what [we needed] to get us started with Little Rockers.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
Creating something that makes other people happy. Little Rockers is so much bigger than just us. We are a part of our community and a rite of passage for a lot of the families in our area. We help grown-ups and children bond, particularly when they’re at an age when verbal communication is still developing. Music can become an amazing way for children to open up and for the adults who love them to experience that with them. A lot of the time, children will have great experiences while learning at school, so it’s special to be a parent in an environment where you are watching your child learn and experience something new.
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How has the pandemic affected your business?
We have had to make some big changes at Little Rockers, which have challenged us as 10-year business owners but have also opened us up to new possibilities. We have always had dreams of franchising but have had to put that on hold for the time being, as we had to close one of our locations. However, we have a new audience with our virtual class offerings and have developed an app for parents and kids to do music classes at home, with new classes every week and live classes available to watch. It’s been something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and for us, the possibilities are endless with our app.
How can people continue to support your business during this time?
By downloading and subscribing to our app, available on iOS and Android.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Do something you absolutely love to do because you’ll be doing it A LOT! But also be willing to wear many hats, and to be willing to develop new skills. You will always be doing the initial thing you love but will have to learn to love all the other tiny things necessary to run a business, like finance and marketing. But that’s what they call a “labor of love.”
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This interview has been edited for clarity.
Last updated: May 12, 2021