#134: From Local to Global - Achieving Top Dollar Status with Celeste Vee
Today is a guest podcast with my steller powerhouse client Celeste!
I’ve had the privilege to work with Celeste Vee for the past 18 months and in that time we have transformed her business from best kept secret to a global, high ticketed, super niche offer!
Here are just a few of the topics we cover:
1. How and why she decided she needed business coaching
2. How her SEO not only rocked her business but also her mindset
3. How to leverage collaborations for ultimate visibility and credibility
4. Being a military spouse and how that impacts her business
Want to connect with Celeste Vee
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Be Found, Liked and Trusted Faster - Google Workshop - If you think you’re the best kept secret in town? Let’s change that. In this on demand workshop I tell you exactly what you must do to be found, trusted and like quicker and easier.
The Only Three You Need - Be the Only Option in Town by Doing Less! - As brick and mortar business owners we can get “shiny object syndrome.” Jumping from one strategy to another. In this on demand workshop, I share with you what THREE strategies you need to be focusing in on at ALL times.
Work with Melissa:
20 min Coffee Chat: Fast Track if Working together is a fit and get some immediate takeaways for your biz.
One on One Coaching: Create a Brick + Mortar Business that Allows You To Kick Ass in ALL Areas of Your Life. Every. Single. Day.
90 Day Rebel Women Mastermind: The Community to Empower Yourself + Grow Your Business in 90 Days.
A bit about our guest:
Celeste began violin lessons at age four in South Texas and quickly discovered a passion for the stage. She began performing professionally when she was only twelve and went on to study vocal performance and theater at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and at AMDA in New York City. She later earned her MBA at University of Texas at Dallas and then embarked on her solo career when she moved to Washington DC in 2018. She has performed at more than 2,500 events for such distinguished guests as Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
In 2009 Melissa Rose started her business, The Dancing House in the basement of her home. There she taught the art of dance to students of all ages while her babies were right along with her in the pack and play. With passion, resilience, and tenacity - she created a business that has become "The Highlight of Your Week" for her tribe, her team and her community.
Along with running a successful brick and mortar business and an online dance membership, Melissa is also a visibility coach for brick + mortar studio businesses. Guiding other boss ladies to a flourishing business that provides well for their own tribe - creating a legacy for themselves, their family and their community.
When not inspiring or empowering, Melissa is a super mama of five kiddos, enjoys long hikes (without her kids) and playing in her garden.
Melissa: Hey There, studio owner! You've put your blood, sweat and tears into creating a Brick and Mortar business that serves your clients and impacts the community you love. You are my hero! And I'm pretty sure we could sit down and talk like besties do because I get it. I've had my studio business for over twelve years, a handful of kids, and a few passion projects that I love, like this one. Hey there, I'm Melissa Rose, your visibility coach for the studio owner who wants more stellar clients coming through their doors, more bank in their bank account, and more time to hang out and be completely present with those they love most. In this podcast, we're going to share the nitty-gritty of running a successful studio business, sharing stories, talking strategy, and learning practical tips that leave you inspired, empowered, and equipped to create your epic life every single day. So, if you're a dance studio, yoga studio, pilates studio, or a fitness boutique studio, you are in the right place. Add some kiddos into the mix and maybe a life partner and I call you a rebel woman, ready to dive in? Let's get real!
Melissa: Welcome back to Brick and Mortar Visibility. Hello. I am super excited for you all to hear from our interview today. Our guest, Celeste Vee, she is a powerhouse. She has been a client of mine and I am just super excited for you to hear and learn from her.
Melissa: Before we dive into the episode, though, I do want to share my 90-Day Mastermind that is open for enrollment. You guys, if you have been wanting accountability, if you want to finish your 2022 strong, if you are even thinking about "Gosh, I really want to invest in myself, but I just don't know". This Mastermind is a great way to start. 90 days, twice a month we meet. I come in every call with a mini training and then we go around the room and we talk about our hot topic that we want to discuss and get feedback, thoughts, and ideas from people in the room. This mastermind is life-changing. People who have been part of it, love it and miss it when it's gone. So head on over to 'msmelissarose.com' and click the 'Work With Me' tab to learn more about my 90-Day Mastermind starting in September.
Melissa: Now our interview with a beautiful and talented Celeste Vee.
Melissa: Welcome to the Brick and Mortar Visibility podcast. How are you?
Celeste: I am so great. Melissa, This is a dream to actually be here and be on this side, being on your podcast instead of just listening to it.
Melissa: Right? Bless you. This is fun. It's super fun for me because this has been coming for a while. I knew I wanted to have you on and I'm super excited for everybody to hear your story and where you've grown from. So before we launch into all things business, tell us a little bit about you. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Celeste: Oh my gosh, Not a musician!
Celeste: I wanted to be when I was really little an Archaeologist. I don't know why, that just seemed really cool. And then in high school, I thought I wanted to be an Air Traffic Controller. And then I decided I wanted to apply to be an Architect. So I started looking at architecture schools. Those were the three careers that I most considered.
Celeste: But, Music, it was never on the list.
Melissa: Oh my gosh, I love that because that is so different.
Celeste: I'm one of those weird people who are literally very much half right brain, half left brain. I'm not a total artist, but I've been playing the Violin since I was four, so it's just kind of what I do and sort of where I ended up. But yeah, I had a lot of weird, like, I want to be a scientist, I want to be an engineer, I want all these other things.
Melissa: Well, that plays well into how you have grown your business and what you've done with your business. So tell everybody who you are, what you do, and who you serve.
Celeste: Absolutely. So I started playing the Violin when I was four years old. My mom made me and all of my siblings and we did the Suzuki Method, which is very popular for younger students. I did all classical until I was about twelve or so. My dad made me learn a few fiddle tunes, but I did my first professional gig the day I turned twelve.
Celeste: It was the opening of a community theatre production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. My teacher was going to play for it and she was not able to. And so about a month before she was like, OK, look, I have this student, I think she's good enough and she can handle it. So I rehearsed with them and I got to play maybe five or six shows. I can't remember how many there were. And I made $100. And I was like, what? I can make money. That's a lot more than I make, babysitting. And so that kind of started me down that track.
Celeste: From there, I just kind of gigged with bands here and there and babbled in it throughout high school. Then I ended up going to college and getting my degree in vocal performance. I loved musical theatre, but everybody convinced me that it was not really a career path. So I studied voice at SMU, Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a minor in theatre.
Celeste: But after I graduated, and even while I was still in school, I kept getting gigs as a violinist, as a fiddle player, really, because I could improvise. And the part of that was because of that Suzuki training. From a very young age, I could play by ear. I had the ability to improvise and to pick up things really quickly. I didn't need sheet music to play with a band. I could jam and have a good time. And I had a personality on stage.
Celeste: Also, during college, I started my first business. I started 'The Platinum Strings' It was a string quartet. We did weddings and some corporate events, but mostly weddings. And I had that business for almost ten years before moving around and just didn't make sense to keep it. But that's where I kind of stuck my toe in the water of entrepreneurship.
Celeste: So really I made most of my career. I've always gigged on the side, I've always played violin in bands and sung in bands my entire life, even though I had full-time jobs at different points throughout there. But it was about four years ago, actually exactly four years ago, I got married and moved here to the Washington DC area. My husband is in the army. That's when I decided to go totally solo. I said I don't want to play in bands anymore. I want to take all of this information that I have gathered playing for events and planning events, which I've done a lot over the years, and turn that into an event entertainment company where it's just me, just providing event entertainment.
Celeste: It was not really a thing at the time. It's becoming more of a thing, but it was really scary and so that was kind of how it got started. I said I'm just going to go for it. And my husband really empowered me to do that, which was a huge blessing. So now I do this full time. I get to play for events several times a week on most weeks and it's a lot of weddings and a lot of corporate events with a few other things kind of sprinkled in here and there. So that's how I ended up where I am.
Melissa: And we get to work together because I get to be your business coach, which is a blessing to me. You're here as a success story because you are just a lovely client who is very coachable and does the work. She is a worker and as you mentioned, you have that right-left side kind of balanced. As an artist myself, I think that is where I'm able to do business as well, because I am analytical, I think about those things. I am a free spirit, but not as much as others. So we all have our gifts and you do that really well. So I want to talk a little bit about where were you when you decided, you know what, I think I need to hire a business coach or what were you thinking? Tell us about that process.
Celeste: So I was coming out of a very dry season during CoVid. As you can imagine, CoVid had a huge impact on the events industry and I was starting to get more calls like I was starting to gain some momentum. But I just felt like I was sort of spinning my wheels, and I didn't know what to do or where to focus my energy. Like, I would listen to podcasts and read books and find out all this great information, but none of it was for me. It was great advice, but I wanted somebody to look at my situation and tell me where to best focus my energy and where to prioritize the limited time that I had.
Celeste: And that's when I found you. And it was just like a match made in heaven. I love the fact that we found out we both went to AMDA(The American Musical and Dramatic Academy). I mean, what are the chances? And I thought, oh my gosh, this is a woman who gets me. She's an artist, but she's a businesswoman. She's not only successful on her own, but she's successful in teaching other people how to do the business side of the arts or any business, to be honest. And so that's what really connected me to you, and it just felt like the perfect moment and the perfect match.
Melissa: Of course. Thank you.
Melissa: When you came in, you were kind of stuck, spinning your wheels, and I loved that you said, I want somebody to look at my business. Like, yes, you can take all the books, you can listen to all the podcasts, but that's what we want. We want somebody, "Okay, but tell me what to do? Look at my situation" And yes, 'Business is Business is Business' My ex said that to me, and I hated it when he said it to me, and I still hate it now because 'Business is Business is Business', which is great. However, we each have our own thing in how we do it. I was just talking to a studio owner this afternoon on a walk and just so helpful because we both are studio owners. But we run our studios a little differently and how we were able to tag team off each other and go, "Oh! Think about this if you're going to do it this way or think about this or I had this experience doing it that way" And it was so helpful when you could get in the nitty-gritty of that.
Melissa: So when we signed on working together, I remember the first thing you wanted to do was really work on your SEO. You felt like you were the best-kept secret.
Melissa: Can you talk a little bit about that? Because now you're not.
Celeste: Well, I was spending a lot of money on advertising on different websites that basically connect event planners to gigging musicians or gigging event professionals, not just musicians, things like gig salad and the bash and thumbtack at the time. And I was tired of spending so much money to connect with people who I knew were out there. What is the first thing you do when you're looking for somebody, a plumber or somebody who can, I don't know, babysit your kids? I don't know. You Google! right? We Google everything. And yes, we love referrals when you know somebody. But how many people know somebody who knows a Violinist? That's not something that we usually get through referral unless you're lucky. So I knew that I needed to connect with people on Google who are going to just go and search for a violinist near me. And I knew that was a free way to connect with people and that there were already clients out there falling between the gaps. When I listened to a couple of your podcasts on that and saw some of your workshops and things that you do specifically on that topic, I knew that it was another reason why it was a really good match because I really needed that.
Melissa: And then you improved your Google SEO within months.
Celeste: Yeah, two or three months. I already see it and now, here we are two years later, and it's not even two years later.
Celeste: I have now the most amazing SEO and a number of reviews than anybody I know, as far as Violinists go. It's very empowering, and I feel like it's created a lot of confidence in my business.
Celeste: People trust me because they're like, 'Oh! She's on Google'.
Melissa: Yeah. I love the ripple effect of how that SEO, it's not just good for business, it's good for mindset, because it is now, because now you show up and it only took you two to three months to really improve that SEO quickly. And then the confidence it has behind that, like when you are first there and you're not paying for that ad space and you are referred well, that is so huge.
Melissa: So now we got your SEO up. Tell people, what kind of weddings do you do? Because this is so fun. You guys got to go look at her Instagram because it's just fabulous with pictures and videos. But tell us the kind of wedding you do. It's so fun.
Celeste: So I've found a little niche in the last couple of years in the South Asian, Indian market. It's a very underserved market that has a massive appreciation for music in general, Violin in particular, but not just Volin, pretty much any instrument that will play their music. They grew up listening to all these great Bollywood tunes, and you play one and everybody in the room is singing along. And I'm like, this is like unreal. It's so fun. And so I've become, my husband calls me 'The Indian Wedding Whisperer'.
Melissa: Oh, I love it.
Celeste: It's such a community of people as well that word has spread not just locally but across the country. And so now I'm doing a lot. I would say 75% of my events are Indian weddings and other South Asian, but mostly Indian weddings.
Melissa: So we've really leaned into that because we realized that was a niche for you. So we leaned into that with collaborations as well. Talk a little bit about the collaborations that you did because collaborations, as you all know, is my biggest way for businesses to grow. So when you have a niche and you really zone in on it, you then can leverage that collaboration so well. So you did this really well. Talk about this.
Celeste: Absolutely. So once I had established myself as maybe not an expert, but as a valid player in this area, I started connecting with other DJs and musicians in the South Asian event community. So, Tabla players, that's a certain type of drum that's used very popularly and 'Dohls', Dhol players are it's another drum that's used very commonly for Indian weddings and then DJ's. And then there's one in a particular guy, 'The Shehnai Guy'. And 'Shehnai is a very popular instrument in India, but it's almost gone out of like nobody plays it anymore because it's very difficult. But he's kind of brought it back and he is massively huge. So all these different people have approached me, or I've approached them in some cases and said, 'Hey, can we do a video together?' or 'Can we do something some kind of a collab?' And those have helped me so much to connect with their followers because their followers are my ideal followers too.
Celeste: And honestly, that really humbled me because I was just so warmly welcomed by all these people who are like, 'Are you Indian?' And I'm like, 'No'. They're like, 'Okay, well, I don't care. Come to this anyway because you know these songs' and it really boosted my visibility big time.
Melissa: I mean, I still get comments and views on one video in particular that I did with 'The Shehnai Guy'. And I look at that and I'm like, 'oh my gosh, I don't even know how much this ripple effect has impacted my business and my exposure and my bookings'.
Melissa: Yeah, so huge. So I'm super proud of you taking advantage of those collaborations in the most possible, best way ever for both parties for all of it. Realistically, you're a military person, you're a military spouse. I have two sisters who are from military families and that involves a lot of moving around. You're not home. And so this was another topic for conversation with us when we first started out because you live in DC now. You're from Houston, right? Texas?
Celeste: Actually. San Antonio.
Melissa: San Antonio, thank you. And so you wanted to work on your SEO in both places because you knew that after this engagement in DC, you wanted to move back to Texas. So how are we going to Melissa grow my business here locally, knowing full well that in two to three years I'm going to be back in Texas? And this is really y'all, this is real, this is real life. Some of you are married to military people or you get a job transfer with a partner and you have to move. And you're like, 'Oh, but I built my business, how am I going to start all over?' And you're not starting all over. You're starting from experience. However, I hear you. So let's talk a little bit about that because that's probably a tension right now that you're dealing with, right? Like just like, 'how are we going to do this?' And this is a stress for us.
Celeste: Absolutely. At the time of this podcast recording, I am like 51 weeks away from moving back to Texas. And it's super, super scary. But I like what you said, it's not starting over. It's really just kind of starting fresh, but with so much experience gained and so many tools in my bucket that I now can use. So I know it's not going to take as long, but I've definitely been a little stressed about it, thinking, 'will it take the same amount of time?'
Celeste: That's really what it is, it's time. I know no matter where I go, I'm going to be able to build a business again. It's just that so much of it is word of mouth and so much of it is networking. But knowing that I've already started reaching out to people in different parts of Texas and offering discounts for bookings between now and next summer because that will give me a massive jump start if they know, 'Hey, this person is going to be local, we get a discount for the first booking and next time she comes, we won't have to pay travel expenses'.
Melissa: Right, Right.
Celeste: So that's really going to help a lot. And part of it also is for me is the validation of having done a certain number of events. Right? So now that I've been doing this for four years here in the DC market, I have the videos to prove it, and I have the reviews to prove it. I have a lot of 'clout' and a lot of, I can't think of the word, but I'm established I'm not a newbie. They can see that. And it doesn't matter where I'm at, That doesn't go away. That I take with me. And so that is very empowering and gives me the confidence to know that if I did it once, I can do it again, but faster!
Melissa: Yes! that's so true. And then I want to kind of lead into what you're working on right now. Well, before that, I want to talk a little bit about mindset because so much of business is 'mindset' and overcoming obstacles. What is maybe one mindset thing or a couple of things that maybe stick out to you throughout our time together?
Celeste: Wow! There's always this 'I'm not good enough, or maybe I'm not meant to be an entrepreneur because I'm not as passionate or I'm not as self-motivated or I'm not as blah, blah, blah, fill in the blank as the next person'. And there's always somebody who's better than you and faster than you. And so there's this comparison thing that is so detrimental. And I know we hear that all the time, don't compare yourself, don't compare. But it still seeps in it's so insidious and so questioning whether I was even in the right career field has been a major challenge. There have been times, especially during CoVid, where I was like, do I just throw in the towel now and cut my losses while I can?
Celeste: But no, I knew I was in the right place. So it's just when you have that slow month, knowing that you're in it for the long haul and that next month is going to be better because you have the bookings already to prove it or know that you don't typically book if in my case until two months-ish, three months before the event, oftentimes. But yeah, that second-guessing myself all the time, like wondering 'should I be doing this or should I just settle for something else that's not really what I'm passionate about'. That has been definitely challenging and you've gosh, helped me so much to just remind me sometimes gently, sometimes more firmly, that just because I'm not Marie Forleo doesn't mean that I'm not an entrepreneur.
Melissa: No, Yeah!
Melissa: When people work with a coach, often the first thing they tell you is to raise your prices. I'm not like that. I really look at your business and look at your model and look at what you're doing. There has to be demand there and there has to be a service that's getting the need to raise your prices. But there came a point for you that you needed to raise your prices and that was a struggle. That was a real struggle for you, confidence-wise and just feeling worthy of charging that much that we work through.
Melissa: Another one we talked about was you talked about the comparison thing, but also you were like the comparison of why am I not self-motivating? I have this list of things to do. Why am I not doing it? I'm procrastinating and talking about that because that is a legit thing too, I'm like "Celeste, I do it too. You're not special. Don't think you're special. And you get that. No, we all have it. We all procrastinate on what we should do and that is why we have that coach or that's why we have that mentor that holds us accountable because you're not special. We all struggle with that. Okay?" So it was really working through that and holding each other accountable because she'll list out her goals and I'll check in with her and then I'm like, okay, and by the way, I'm going to do that too. So you just kind of like, hold me accountable too. So it's a blessing on each ways.
Melissa: So because of all this beautiful growth, Celeste also plays corporate events and we've been really working on getting her more corporate events so that she's busier during the week versus the weekend. And that's been... I'm not going to say, 'a challenge'. It's just been how do we pivot our marketing so that it represents that more so that we're not just always getting wedding gigs. The wedding gigs are great, we're very grateful for them, but we want to be getting more corporate events. But I want to talk about your latest adventure. Okay, so we have this beautiful business of being an event entertainer, but now we're adding another 'E' to the tagline of Celeste Vee. So tell us, everybody, what your tagline is.
Celeste: So I'm an electric violinist, an epic event entertainer, and now I am pivoting into being an educator, which I always knew was going to be a part of my long-term goals. But it is a pivot. It's not a natural segue, per se. It takes more intentionality because it's a different market at the same time. I've always enjoyed sharing knowledge, always been if I get excited about a new product or something, I'm the first one who's like, telling all my friends about it. I'm that evangelist type. I just want everybody to know. And I have found that in the music industry, and particularly the events industry, I don't know why there are a lot of people who like to keep those secrets really close to the vest. And I don't even know, I've struggled wondering how much of it is intentional and how much of it is just because they're not natural educators, they're not naturally a teacher. They don't necessarily have a passion to help other musicians. They just want to get the gigs.
Celeste: But I realized that I had to struggle and learn the hard way so many times because this is such a new and emerging sort of specialization. Electric Violin with tracks, right? This didn't exist really ten years ago. And so learning how to market it, learning how to collaborate, learning what clients are looking for, learning what works best, learning how to say 'No' when it's something that is not feasible or is not going to go well, learning best practices and how to work with the other vendors who are being asked to collaborate with you. There are just so many things that I have learned the hard way, the hard way, the hard way, every single time because nobody taught me any of this. Nobody said these are the songs you should play. Nobody said you need to spin this many times. Nobody said you need to have a violin that looks like this or is wireless or whatever. They didn't tell me any of that. I had to figure all of that out on my own. And so I'm like, if I've done all this work now, who else can I help that next generation? There's obviously a demand for what I do, and there are few people who have the whole package, the personality and the ability to learn new songs and a 'play by ear' or to learn the music ahead of time if you need to. And so really just kind of finding that next generation of event entertainers and helping them overcome some of the hurdles that I did and to get where I am a lot faster without all the heartache, that's my passion.
Melissa: So we are delving into that, adding that under the umbrella of epic entertainer and performer. And I'm super excited about this because this is something that can be done virtually. It can be done anywhere. It can be done in person. It can be done during the week so that she's still free to perform on the weekends if and when she chooses. And it's just so fun and such a gift, a blessing to be part of your journey for so long. We've been working together. We started, what, with a year contract, and then you just added on, and we've worked for 18 months. We're going on two years. We're going to do another six months together, which I just so appreciate. And it's just so fun to be part of this as an artist and to see somebody just flourishing and doing what her God-given gifts are and doing them so well, that just, like, lights me up, and I'm so thankful for that.
Melissa: So before we close that, Celeste, what is saving you right now? What are you loving?
Celeste: What is saving me right now? I am obsessed with audiobooks, and that is my unwind. At the end of the day, I get to just sit there and listen to a really good story, and that's my happy place. I would love to go in the backyard and do that. There are too many mosquitoes right now, so I go wherever I can to make it comfortable. And I'm just starting book eight of the Outlander series.
Melissa: Okay, good to know. Okay, good to know. That's fun. I like that. Thank you for sharing your story with everybody. Tell everybody where to find you.
Celeste: My website is www.celestevee.com, that's 'V' 'E' 'E'. You can think of it as Violin Entertainer and Educator. That's an accident. It totally happened by accident, but I'll take it. Whatever.
Celeste: celestvee.com and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. On social media, You can find me on most platforms @thecelestevee. And that's it. I can't wait to see you there.
Melissa: Yeah, go check her out. Her socials, it's just beautiful. Just stunning and gorgeous photos and video and just see what she does because it truly is one of time. It's so fun.
Melissa: So, Celeste, thank you for being on the Brick and Mortar Visibility podcast. You guys. Yes, she does not have a Brick and Mortar. Isn't that funny? She's one of the best clients I've had and does not have a Brick and Mortar. However, she is a business owner doing her thing and doing it really well, providing a great service to her clients. So check her out on the socials, and we will have everything linked up here in the show notes. Connect with her, tell her you heard her on Brick and Mortar Visibility. I know she would love to hear from you. All right, so, Celeste Vee, thank you so. much for being on the Brick and Mortar Visibility podcast. And I will see you, Celeste, on our next call. Everybody else, we will see you, same time, same place next week. Peace. Have a great day.
Melissa: Oh, my gosh, you're still here. You are such a rebel woman. I have to meet you. Come on over to the Rebel Women Tribe on Facebook created for Brick and Mortar Business owners just like you. In this group, we empower, encourage, and support each other. And every week I come in and share with you a tip, tool or strategy that I'm learning in my Brick and Mortar Business to help you and yours. And you guys, this is the real stuff, the nitty-gritty in real-time of what's going on. So come on over to the Rebel Women Tribe on Facebook. I can't wait to meet you.