How Tatiana Berman used her classical music career to inspire others to express themselves
Tatiana sits down with us to talk about her experience founding Constella Arts, her mission to make classical music more accessible, and her experience performing for the Queen of England.
Describe your business in a few words?
I am the founder of Constella Arts organization–a creative hub for live performances, film/digital productions, and educational workshops.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I wanted to create an interdisciplinary artistic organization that presents and produces innovative ideas. Specifically, I wanted to find ways to introduce a broader audience to classical music in a way that is updated and accessible. That is why I co-created the Not So Classical concert format, and released an album with the same name.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was trained as a classical music soloist at the top music institutions, including the Royal College of Music in London. I gave recitals, performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world, and presented educational workshops. I also had two young children at the time.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Hahaha… Growing up in a family of musicians in Russia, I wasn’t even aware that the entrepreneurial path was a real possibility. When I was little I was one of those kids who wanted to do many different things. I wanted to be a violinist, artist, conductor, philosopher, dancer, composer, writer and cosmonaut. In my twenties, having lived in the UK since the age of 14 and then moving to the U.S. a few years later, I started to feel an urge to create an organization that connects ideas and people in the artistic realm.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
When I first conceived the idea of Constella Arts, fortunately it was the right time as there wasn’t anything similar to the organization. One of the best strategies was very actively connecting with like-minded organizations and individuals in the area and beyond. They were involved, and shared the information organically. At the time, this was the best way to spread the word. And it worked.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
A couple of years into it, the amount of events we produced became overwhelming. I personally felt burned out and not able to enjoy the same format anymore. I was even starting to doubt whether it was necessary to keep going and if others felt the same… So, after putting things on a brief hold, I came back with fresh ideas, scaling down the events but expanding into digital and education. It doesn’t always work, but it was the right move for us.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I don’t usually think of life in this way so it’s not easy to answer this question. However, there are some really memorable moments:
1) Performing for the Queen as a soloist at Buckingham Palace when I was 16.
2) Creating Not So Classical and Constella Arts.
3) Being featured as one of the protagonists in the documentary, Forte, which is streaming on the film’s website for the month of March in honor of Women’s History Month.
4) But most importantly, I would say that raising my three girls to be good-hearted, smart, and resilient humans is probably my biggest accomplishment to date 😉
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
The question varies depending on which position the application is for. Generally, I am interested to see what experiences and skills will help the person to be successful in the position they are applying for. How people present themselves, their passion for what the organization stands for, their work ethic, and ability to think outside the box are all important.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Constella Arts and other organizations in the industry suffered. Just as an example, our live events and educational work were all cancelled and we had to rethink how many things were done going forward.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
After the initial shock of the event cancellations due to the pandemic, we took a chance and expanded the educational work we were doing by connecting Constella Arts with a new venture, CultureNet Virtual Sessions. Despite circumstances being far from ideal for some aspects of the organization, it has been liberating to be a part of a movement to innovate music education. It is great to be able to influence and inspire so many kids throughout the nation virtually with the help of the new technology. We still plan to have live events and productions, but it will probably take some time to get to that point.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
In every challenging situation there is a silver lining. I learned to adapt and create opportunities despite my plans affected by things outside of my control. In 2020 I got to spend more time with my children. I love to learn and challenge myself and staying home a lot more became a great opportunity to grow in some unexpected ways personally and professionally. Like learning graphic design, taking self-development courses and finding out more about psychology.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Most importantly to surround yourself with the right people. Also, take one day at a time. Take small steps daily towards where you want to be and you will get there with less stress. You are the only thing stopping you from achieving your goals and dreams. Give more credit to yourself, believe in your abilities, take responsibility for everything that is within your control and let go of the things that are not.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Even with the best plan, things can change in an instant. With three kids and various endeavors, there are days when I am exhausted and stressed. But in general I know how to stay grounded. For me, focusing on a bigger picture, staying open-minded, and always learning are a must. I try to prioritize getting the most important things done and not worrying about the other less important tasks.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
A lot of the time we don’t take time to evaluate what is really happening in our lives. I believe the time you take for self-reflection is really valuable. Another one is self-care. I am talking about spiritually, emotionally and physically taking care of your whole self. If some aspects of this are neglected, generally life becomes imbalanced, leading to mistakes and burn out. Some of my favorites self-care tips: take a candlelit bath, read a good book, listen to a stimulating podcast, or just take a walk and think.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
If I were not a musician/artist/producer I would be a life coach. I am a dancer at heart (not in real life). I am interested in psychology and interior design.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) Decide what the priorities are and execute them before life gets in the way.
2) Have at least 2 hours of uninterrupted time for “output” work every day
3) Create reminders for repeated events and tasks. More time for creative work.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Enterprenista is resilient, innovative and unstoppable, creating opportunities to grow and learn, and leading the way for future generations!