We caught up with Romford vocal coach Rebecca Amissah.
We’re now exactly halfway through our billboard competition, and so far it’s brought some inspiring stories as well as some interesting businesses. The latest winner – Rebecca Amissah of Gospel Essence and AmisStar Vocal Studios – carries on the trend, her businesses based around vocal coaching and assisting her local community.
Eager to learn more, we caught up with her for a chat…
What was the motivation for starting your business?
As a professional singer, I understand the power of music and what it can do in people’s lives. I can provide escapism, and create memories by helping people through various stages of their lives through music. I can build confidence, reduce stress and help people achieve lifelong ambitions.
It’s been such a humbling experience doing something I love, whilst knowing that I’m making a difference to my clients. I’m very passionate about using music to improve people’s quality of life, and it’s this passion that drove me to start my business.
When did you first start your business?
I started Gospel Essence back in 2010, and since then we’ve been singing at weddings, acting as support artists and performing at various events. I’ve been a freelance vocal coach for about three years and later this month I plan to start another business – AmisStar Vocal Studios – which will allow me to create a new music hub right in the heart of Romford.
With Gospel Essence I’ve worked with infants and used music as a learning and development tool. Autistic children have interacted for the first time as a direct result of my sessions, and I’ve helped young people improve their self-esteem and deal with mental health issues. I’ve worked with mature adults too, in community choir set-ups.
A diverse experience day-to-day my time with Gospel Essence proves that music is indiscriminate, and that it can add value to anyone, at any stage of life. This strengthens my belief that there’s a need for a business like mine.
How do you promote your business?
I have a website and use social media, but I think word of mouth has been my strongest form of advertising. That said, I was ecstatic to win this billboard - it’ll be an amazing opportunity to test this type of marketing and I cannot wait to see it up!
How important a role do you feel small businesses like yours play in your local community?
In the last year SME’s added 49.8% to the UK economy, so the stats prove small businesses are vital. For me they bring more than just economic benefits though - they also create an identity and help shape a place.
I’m sick of seeing lovely old pubs and other small family-run businesses turning into Tesco locals, and I think many people share this sentiment. I believe that my business will bring a better quality of life to many people, and that many small businesses can do the same.
Why do you think Romford is a good town to run a small business in?
I grew up In Romford and I’m proud to have my business based here. We’re on the cusp of Essex and East London so people tend to go to London for opportunities in music and the arts, but through AmisStar Vocal Studios I want to get people flocking here.
Romford’s easy to reach - around 20 minutes on the train from Liverpool Street - and aspiring singers will have access to a stream of top industry experts. With it’s close proximity to London Romford offers lots of opportunity, so it’s a great place to start up and run a small business.
What is the most difficult part of running a Gospel choir?
I’d say the most difficult thing is all the people management. I’m responsible for both the business and the creative side, including the arranging and conducting, so trying to co-ordinate that with 8 people’s diaries when you are booking gigs can sometimes be a challenge. I guess it comes with the territory though.
That said I’m fortunate to have loyal and supportive singers - without them I wouldn’t have a choir!
What are your plans for your business over the next five years?
I’d love AmisStar Vocals to be known as the music hub of Romford, bringing professional and aspiring musicians together to build confidence and realise their dreams. More specifically though I want Gospel Essence to be known as the main a cappella gospel choir, providing top singers for artists to go on tour with, and for us to eventually release albums of all our original arrangements.
Do you have any advice for those considering starting a business like yours?
My top three tips would be this:
1. Put your heart into it. Working for yourself is hard, but if you have passion and self-belief, every challenge - no matter how difficult - will be character building.
2. Networking is very powerful. It’s important to get connected with like-minded individuals so you can share contacts and ideas. Going it alone increases the need to have a strong team, so get connecting.
3. Get a business mentor. Learning from someone you respect and who’s been in your position can aid your progression.
Why did you enter the competition?
I’d never entertained billboard advertising because of its cost, so I thought why not try my luck! I saw it as an excellent way to give my business more exposure and to capture the attention of potential clients.
How will this billboard help your business?
I think it’ll give people the confidence to trust in my brand and increase the visibility of my business to an audience that I’m yet to target!