Ever since she was a young girl, Brejoya Smarr, Owner of Daytona Beach Music Academy, always dreamed of being a singer. Despite exposure to Karate and other team sports, music was the only thing that stuck. After high school, Smarr went to college in Georgia where she began teaching private music lessons. She moved home to Daytona Beach in 2008 and spent several years working as a Chorus teacher at Deltona High School, while still teaching privately on the side. By 2014, Smarr was ready to pursue her true passion on a full-time basis.
"At the time, I was a single parent," she said. "I had daughters in preschool in the Daytona area and I was commuting back and forth to Deltona every day. I was tired of it. I didn't know anything about running a full-time business, but I knew I could do it. I took a leap of faith and left my job with the school."
Smarr put up flyers and contracted with a few private schools and churches to teach music lessons. She moved in with her parents to cut down on expenses and put every ounce of energy into growing her business. Slowly but surely, her efforts and sacrifices paid off. By December 2016, the business had grown to a level that justified the need for its own space.
"We initially shared our space with a photographer and a dance teacher," Smarr said. "Looking back on it, this was a great financial decision at the time. After a year, they found different locations and I was there by myself. Fortunately, by that point, I had built up enough momentum to be able to handle the whole rent payment on my own."
Initially called Angelic Muziki, a combination of Smarr's middle name and the Swahili word for music, the business was renamed in 2018 to Daytona Beach Music Academy. According to Smarr, this made a huge difference.
"More people were able to find us," she said. "I've since learned more about marketing, my online presence and SEO. I also hired someone to build a proper website. You get to a point where you realize that certain things are better left for those with that type of expertise."
As the premier school of music in the Daytona Beach area, Daytona Beach Music Academy offers private lessons in all popular instruments for kids ages four and up. They teach the basics and classics as well as the music students want to learn. They're innovative through the use of apps and various websites for learning music. They also give their students performing opportunities throughout the year and reward them for not giving up.
"Music is one of the only universal languages and has benefits beyond pure enjoyment," Smarr said. "I love teaching and giving back to the youth through this powerful source called music."
Smarr continued, "Last year, we did a five year anniversary celebration which inspired me to write my first book called 'Body of Art'. It's about the impacts of the arts on our youth. The book highlights the stories of several artists and how the arts has impacted their lives. The book also serves as a voice for my newly formed non-profit called 'Arts Transforming Our Tomorrow (ATOT)'. I founded ATOT as a way to provide scholarships for students in underprivileged communities that want to study art, dance, music or even culinary art. Our goal is to launch the scholarships this summer."
Looking ahead, Smarr's goal is to become the largest contemporary school of music in the Daytona Beach area. She wants to serve 500 families by 2025. She's also looking to continue to take steps towards freeing up her time to work on her business rather than in it. With a team of 10 teachers, she's well on her way to accomplishing this objective.
What advice does Smarr have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Just start," she said. "Then find a mentor, a coach and get connected with other entrepreneurs."