Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Riccardo.
Nicole, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up, I would never have imagined “entrepreneur” as a career path for myself, but because of how many different interests I have that is how it has worked out (and I couldn’t be happier)!
Music wise, I began my studies when I started taking piano lessons in first grade. In fourth grade, I picked up the flute and loved it so much I continued through school to attend Florida State University where I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Flute Performance.
In addition to music, I have always admired those with impeccable online presence by way of their social media accounts, websites, and blogs, so I dedicated myself to learning the art of branding and creating beautiful visual content. After many long years of hustle and hard work, I have finally created a life I love as a professional musician and social media + branding consultant!
Most recently, I have channeled my creativity into running a blog so I can share everything that I am passionate about with others! In addition to music, I am a huge foodie, I love to travel, and as a former makeup artist for Bare Minerals, I am a total beauty junkie!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not! (Is it ever?)
After completing my degrees, I struggled to maintain my musical life while working full time in the medical field to support myself. I came home almost every night so exhausted that I had no energy left to practice. Going from my entire life being consumed by music for the past fifteen years to absolutely nothing felt like being hit by a train! I spent more lunch breaks than I can count crying in a bathroom wondering if I made the right choices for my life and if I was even good enough. As I watched friend after friend around me leave music to pursue a different career path, I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s where my path would lead as well. Thankfully, my boyfriend David (who conveniently has a Master’s in Performance Psychology #powercouple #dreamteam) was able to help me adjust my mindset in order to push through these tough years. I started practicing again. I sent out e-mails to every school and music academy in my area. I took any audition within driving distance. I read anything and everything I could about marketing and branding. I dedicated myself to taking better photos and creating a beautiful visual representation of myself online. And FINALLY, things started happening! I started getting calls, I was meeting the right people, and I started to make money doing what I love! It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t an overnight transition, but with a lot of dedication, late nights, and persistence, I was eventually able to create a life where I get to do what I love every single day!
If I could give advice to other women starting their journeys, I would say to always fight for what you want. I truly believe that you can achieve anything as long as you work hard enough! Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and support you, take any and every opportunity you can, and accept that there WILL be tough patches. Every time you have doubts, just remember why you started in the first place and keep going! As the saying goes, doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with your business – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
As a musician, I teach private flute and piano lessons and perform with various orchestras. Most recently, I was given the opportunity to perform with the Sarasota Orchestra for their annual Cirque Des Voix show for the Sarasota Circus Arts Conservatory. Can I just say… it was so much fun, I was ready to run away with the circus!
As a branding and social media consultant, I help others create a cohesive plan for their online presence including everything from the logo, color scheme, design style, photography, and editing, to full social media management. I love helping others create something that is a beautiful visual representation of themselves or their company!
Right now, I am most proud of my blog! I designed the entire website myself, including the graphics and logos! Out of the entire site, I am the most excited about my travel section. As a musician, I travel frequently for performances, conventions, and auditions, and whenever I visit a city I OBSESSIVELY research everything about what to do, see, and eat. I’m talking swiping through every single photo on a restaurant’s Yelp page just to decide if it is worthy to spend a meal at! I put an enormous amount of time and energy into trip planning, and have personally tried everything I recommend to others. And if I went somewhere that didn’t fulfill expectations? You better believe it isn’t making it onto my list! I would rather NOT put up a post if I’m not happy with the content and photos I was able to get than to put one up with content I do not fully stand behind. Sure, this means I may not pump out multiple posts a week like some bloggers are able to, but to me, I would rather be 100% behind something than half-ass it. Considering how oversaturated blogging has become, I think this is something that really sets mine apart (and I hope my readers feel the same)!
Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
Oh, 100%! First and most importantly, I will forever be grateful to my family for encouraging me and fully supporting my choices. Never once did I hear the dreaded, “Uh…you should probably consider a different career path” when I made the decision to be a professional musician. Instead, my family scraped together every week to make sure I could take private lessons. They spent hours in the car carting me around to various festivals, competitions, and conventions every year. And they were right there supporting me at every single one of my concerts. In fact, when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, my grandma gave me a box that contained a program from EVERY SINGLE CONCERT that I had ever performed in since my very first concert in fourth grade! How incredible is that?!
The second thing I attribute to my success is the wonderful teachers and mentors I had in high school. I attended Booker High School in Sarasota, Florida, which is a performing arts school. Half of my day was spent on music courses and the music department was run essentially like a college music program. We had music theory courses, music history, sight singing and ear training, music technology, and yes, even juries twice a year (you other music majors know what I’m talking about)! We performed college and professional level repertoire: I performed the Mozart Requiem, Symphonic Metamorphosis, The Planets, Brahms Requiem, and performed in Carnegie Hall TWICE, all as a high school student! Without the experiences I had here, there is no way I could have been as successful as I was when I entered into a top-tier University music program.
Outside of school, the two most important and influential people on my musical career have been my flute instructors, Betsy Traba and Professor Eva Amsler (or as I affectionately refer to them, my flute moms). Without the support and confidence I received from these two incredible women, I would not be the musician OR person that I am today!
Julia Rachel Photography, Jolene Madewell, Nicole Riccardo