We had the good fortune of connecting with Brianna Goldberg and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brianna, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I didn’t set out to start my own business, and it was never something I thought I had the skills to do. I spent most of my professional life as a freelance double bassist, playing in several part-time orchestras. Maintaining your instrument and bow are a huge part of being a professional musician. We have some people working on double basses here in LA, but there seemed to be a lack of people willing to work on bass bows, and a lot of my colleagues were shipping their bows out of state.
In 2016, I decided to learn how to do basic bow maintenance, called a rehair, as well as the most common small repairs on bows. I went to the University of New Hampshire Violin Craftsmanship Institute that summer to learn these skills. My teacher there, Lynn Hannings, spent some time during one of the classes to give us some advice on starting our own bow business. Somehow, it never occurred to me that learning these skills would naturally turn into a small business. I hadn’t given any thought beyond learning how to work on bows!
After I returned home that summer, I had to figure out how to actually start a business, especially since all my work experience had been in the arts, not the business world. My aunt was a huge help, as she worked with me on making a marketing plan, and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was a big help as well.
I turned my dining room area in my South Pasadena apartment into a workshop and I officially was open for business! Over the years, I continued to go back for more training to learn more advanced repairs, as well as bow making, and on January 1, 2019, I moved into a commercial storefront in Pasadena.
I never would have thought that figuring out a solution to the problem of “Where can you get a good bow rehair around here?” would have resulted in me answering this interview question from my workbench with tools all around me, looking out the 6-feet tall storefront windows at the view of the San Gabriel mountains, as I head into the 6th year of owning my own small business.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I think something that has helped me succeed in my business is my desire to always learn new things. I am always looking to improve my skills and learn new techniques. I think you always have to strive to be better than you previously were to consistently put out work you are proud of.
I also am very committed to always putting forth my best work. When I was in elementary school, I remember writing out my homework very quickly one day, with very messy handwriting. My mother asked if I would be proud to hand that in with my name on it, and of course, I said no, and took the time to redo it. That really shaped how I approach work- I always strive to put out work that I am proud to attach my name to, no matter how much longer it takes.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Often, I will have customers visit my shop from out of the area and they will ask for recommendations for places to eat lunch or get coffee. I always like to recommend Mediterranean Cafe on Shopper’s Lane in Pasadena. I have been going there since I was in high school, when I would come to Pasadena every week for music lessons. The food is just as good as the first time I went, over 20 years ago!
I would also recommend Rosebud Coffee on Colorado Blvd., which is just down the street from my shop. Fantastic coffee with a very cool atmosphere.
Now that COVID-19 is almost in our rear-view, I would definitely recommend seeing live music. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is one of the top orchestras in the world, and Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl are very cool places to see concerts. There are lots of chamber music groups doing innovative things, such as Salastina Music Society, Wild Up, Delirium Musicum, and many others. LA has so many world class musicians, and I’m fortunate to rehair a lot of their bows! It has been a tough year and a half for musicians, but I think now that live music is finally able to return, we will see how much we really missed it.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to shoutout my bow teacher, Lynn Hannings. Lynn has always been so encouraging and willing to share her knowledge, passed down from the great lineage of the bow making tradition in France. She has been a wonderful mentor and friend, and I’m so lucky to have her as an example of a great bow maker and pedagogue, who happens to also be female! She was one of the pioneering women in this traditionally male field, and she has cleared a path for future generations to feel welcome in this community. Thank you, Lynn for all your support!