We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicola McGillicuddy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicola, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My husband and I have been business owners for over 17 years now. And we are starting our 3rd business!
Before we began our first entrepreneurial effort, we knew nothing about business. We were both working in the Arts. I was an actor, waiting on tables to pay the rent while I auditioned. And my musician husband Dan, was working as a freelance producer. After years of “ups and downs” we saw that success in the Arts depends mostly on other people – not on personal efforts. This realization helped motivate us to learn new skills. So before we even started our first business, we started on a path of personal growth by reading books on business and personal success.
Dan and I have always liked to talk about possibilities. And many of our conversations became about what we might do to earn money outside of the entertainment business. We decided to create an income stream that we had control over. We wanted the success or failure to be up to us.
These conversations sparked our entrepreneurial spirits! We started giving more and more of our attention to the idea of creating a business. We learned that ‘attention’ is a powerful tool. By focusing our attention on new possibilities, we learned to recognize opportunity.
For us, that first opportunity was Ebay. By considering new possibilities, Dan noticed that he could buy used recording equipment locally in Los Angeles for substantially less than what it could be sold for on Ebay.
We began visiting music stores all around Los Angeles every Saturday. We introduced ourselves to each store manager and explained that we’d be interested in purchasing used recording equipment that had been sitting around the store for too long. (For a reduced price, of course!)
By showing up at each store EVERY Saturday, we began building relationships with most of those store managers. It took some time, but those relationships became the foundation of our new business.
Eight months later, I quit waiting tables. After a couple of years, our first business grew to a million dollars in annual gross sales.
The main reason this happened for us is that we began giving our “attention” to new possibilities. New possibilities lead to opportunity.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
When you’re a business owner you get to experience both the ups and downs of growing and running your business.
And sometimes you come to a crossroad.
For us, that was the 2009 recession which hit music retail really hard. And our Ebay business suffered the blow. There were already other trends happening that were negatively impacting music retail, but the recession was the final straw for us. We needed to make a change.
At first I resisted moving in a new direction. Our Ebay business was successful for over 10 years. I wanted to hold on to what we created, what was familiar and what had worked for so long. Letting go was not easy for me.
But change is a part of life.
My husband and I started having many conversations on what’s next. And we started giving our attention to what this new possibility could be.
Since music was already in our wheelhouse, our next adventure was starting a music school. We opened Sunset Learning Studio in Redondo Beach in 2012.
We started with two lesson rooms and two teachers. A year and a half later we opened a second location in Redondo Beach and also expanded our first location.
The word to describe this business is joy!
Our main focus in creating Sunset Learning Studio was to build community. And it is the foundation of our success.
We love our Sunset families! We have had the privilege of seeing kids grow not only as musicians, but into wonderful young adults. This has been a very fulfilling and moving experience for us.
Our teachers are the other reason for our success. They are amazing people who are positive and really care about their students. We all feel like we are of service and contributing to our community.
When COVID hit we were fortunate that we could move our lessons online. We have experienced many challenges over this past year, but we have survived. We believe the main reasons we are still here is our strong community and teachers. And for this we are so incredibly grateful!
When you have an entrepreneurial spirit, ideas can bubble up for a new creation that can be hard to ignore.
That was was the case for us recently creating another business called Luv Earth.
This business was born out of a conversation Dan and I were having with some friends. We started talking about the climate change crises. For each of us, it was the first time we shared our fears and overwhelm out loud.
We talked about feeling scared, anxious, overwhelmed, and helpless. And we realized these negative emotions left us feeling completely powerless and immobilized. Even though the environment is important to each of us, none of us had really done much personally to address the issue – besides recycling and using reusable shopping bags.
So we began to dig deep on the topic of global warming and we discovered there is incredible progress being made to fight climate change. Truly inspiring stories! It became very clear to us that…
“Fear immobilizes. Positivity moves us forward.”
Putting our attention on the positive things that were happening moved us into action. We started with small simple life style swaps, like no longer buying plastic water bottles and instead buying a reusable water bottle. This led to more steps like looking at the efficiency of our home and our food waste. Which led to even bigger steps like buying an electric car and becoming vegetarians.
We wanted to create a company that shared this process we went through, which was going from inaction to action by focusing on all the positive things happening to fight global warming.
Our goal is to help as many people as possible get started in the climate change fight by simply taking a small step. And then another small step. And then another. It is the power of people coming together that will create change.
So Luv Earth not only sells products that fight climate change (Plastic Free Shampoo & Conditioner Bars and Palm Oil Free Body & Face Bars ), but also shares the challenges and solutions facing our beautiful planet through our Luv Earth newsletter and Social Media.
The foundation of Luv Earth is inspiration and empowerment. And just like our other businesses, we are so excited to build it!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We live in the South Bay and when friends visit we love to share all the treasures that are in our backyard.
The hiking and walking trails in Palos Verdes are always a big hit for our guests. Hot spots for us are: The Point Vicente Lighthouse, Abalone Cove Trail, and the Portuguese Bend Reserve. The views are gorgeous and make for great picture taking!
For a night out, The Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach is our ‘go-to.’ It’s always a great time! It is such a special place and we can’t wait for it to reopen.
When it comes to eating out (breakfast, lunch or dinner), we love taking friends to the village in South Redondo Beach. Some of our favorite restaurants are Good Stuff, Riviera Mexican Grill, The Green Temple, Turquoise Restaurant, and Pedone’s Pizza (New York style…Yum).
And of course you can’t beat just hanging at the beach!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My step dad, Frank Linder, was an engineer who had his own business. He was such a positive light in my life. I am so grateful for his love, support, encouragement and wisdom during those early years.
Dorothy Tielens, our business landlord, was a real role model and inspiration to me. She created a real estate empire from nothing. She was a dynamo who loved life! She always encouraged us and shared priceless nuggets of wisdom. She just passed this January at 100 years old. I feel so grateful and blessed to have known her.
And I am so grateful for all that I have learned from others by reading books on business and personal growth such as Napolean Hill, Tony Robbins, Marianne Williamson, Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, and so so many others. They have challenged my thinking and helped me understand that a path of growth never ends!
Website: Sunsetlearningstudio.com & luv.earth
Facebook: @sunsetlearningstudio @luv.earth.fightclimatechange