A new center for the arts rises from student's passion
As a passionate student of the arts, Bethany Westphal felt the need to share her love with others, specifically younger children, and help them avoid some of the negative experiences she had with music teachers growing up.
She recently opened Rising Star Center for the Arts in downtown Akron, where she hopes to “create a positive, fun, and encouraging learning environment for the arts so that everyone can be free to pursue their creative dreams.”
Bethany (senior, Integrative Studies) shared what inspired her to start Rising Star: “What ignited a spark in me to start a new business was first my passion for the arts. I am a proud arts advocate, as I have loved playing music, acting, and creating throughout my entire life. I always have new ideas popping into my head like popcorn and I wanted to create a positive space for students that was safe for creativity without fear of being rejected, discouraged, or excluded.
“I have been teaching in other local music schools for over the past four years and have found that even though I love teaching private music lessons, there was not an opportunity to grow through teaching group classes in music, or any other subjects in the arts.
“When I first began my endeavor, it all happened very quickly. I had a dream of opening my own school someday and suddenly someday came very quickly because I found a location I really liked and before I knew it I jumped on, signing a lease and less than 4 weeks later I was open for business.”
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- The ability to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and be understanding that they are human beings and not money into your bank account. To really be personable and understanding to your customers with patience and kindness.
- Marketing, marketing, marketing. Social media is an absolute must. I have found more clients on social media (specifically Facebook groups) than anywhere else.
- A balance between work and play. It is important to be 100% into your business because nothing will work unless you do, but taking the time for self care and breaks is important. I do a lot of work from home and out of the office, and I have to constantly remind myself to separate work from the rest of my life because at the end of the day, it’s the people you love that will be there to support you regardless of what happens with your business.
How has being an entrepreneur helped your studies and/or college life?
Being an entrepreneur and a full-time college senior has definitely had its challenges but it has taught me to time manage a lot better. I still have procrastination slip-ups once in awhile, but it’s only because I’m human. I am looking forward to pursuing my masters in the near future, while also being an entrepreneur.
Where you see yourself and your business in 5 years? 10 years?
I see myself and my business in 5 years with multiple teachers and classes. I hope to have a winterguard and possibly an indoor drumline competing in the OIPA circuits, dance classes in ballet, modern, jazz, and more. Art and music classes for all ages, including a show choir, community choir, community orchestra, and community band. To have at least three different theatre groups at once for ages 5-17, and hopefully a community theatre if possible. In 5 years I hope a second location would be open.
In ten years I would like to have locations throughout all of Ohio and beyond. I want to ensure quality rather than quantity so growing in numbers is going to take a long time, but I am so excited to see what the future holds!