Business owner Claire sitting and working with a Business Recovery Advisor
Business owner Claire sitting and working with a Business Recovery Advisor

Claire & Co Music

Claire Asha O'Connell-Demaj • King Valley Region

Guidance through a COVID-19 pivot

Claire O’Connell is a professional singer, working across all kinds of events and venues, including weddings, wineries, and corporate events. She began her music business, Claire & Co Music, in 2013, and in 2015 she began teaching vocal lessons. 

Claire performed across the UK, Scotland, and England, then returned home to Australia to perform and teach throughout Wangaratta and Rutherglen. While the success of Claire’s business was widespread and thriving, she soon ran into concurrent challenges that made for a long-term roadblock. 

Live gigs, no more

Difficulties began when 2019-2020 brought bushfires to Gippsland and the areas surrounding Wangaratta. As many of Claire’s family and friends were evacuated and relocated, the smoke in the area became never-ending and unbearable. As a result, all events and music gigs were canceled for months — a particularly big blow in the traditionally busy summer period. 

As a result, Claire & Co Music lost nearly all income from live gigs and in-person vocal lessons. Though Claire supported the local community through this troubling time by offering free singing workshops, the success of her business hinged on a pivot of strategy.  

Claire & Co Music business cards
Claire & Co Music CDs
Claire O'Connell, owner of Claire & Co Music, standing by a tree outside

This need was further reinforced when, shortly after bushfire season, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. At this point, when most of Claire’s business activity had already been cancelled, and now seemed to be shut down for the indefinite future, a change to the business plan was even more necessary. 

Reinventing the music

While Claire had never previously sought out assistance with marketing, networking or promoting, she was glad to have found help from the new experience of working with Business Recovery Advisory Service mentor Sam Hicks. 

Working with Sam, Claire & Co Music increased their use of online applications and ways of connecting with her audience that would enable her music business to thrive in a virtual world. 

Alongside business planning and mentorship, Claire credits part of her success with the program to the support and encouragement from Sam.

“Working with Sam Hicks has helped me greatly during this challenging time, as I felt so supported and encouraged to continue strengthening my business online. It has given me more confidence moving forward, learning about new online platforms and understanding how to connect, build and strengthen connections with other businesses and my students,” Claire recalled.  

Tools for future success

While the world slowly but surely returns to normal, and live gigs begin to crop up once again, Claire moves forward with important business knowledge in her toolkit that will allow her business to survive and thrive even further.  

Close up of Claire O'Connell, owner of Claire & Co Music, singing
Close up of Claire O'Connell, owner of Claire & Co Music, smiling

Through the Business Recovery Advisory Service, Claire has learned to understand marketing plans and strategies. She had previously not explored these realms before, and she has now gained important insight into planning, organising, and creating more effective content for her business. 

Claire, with Claire & Co Music, plans to continue to strengthen its marketing strategies while building confidence with online platforms and content. 

Claire recommends the service to all who may be experiencing business hardship: “The Business Recovery Advisory Service was such an empowering and confidence building experience for me as I learnt so many new skills and felt supported throughout the entire process. Thank you!” 

Business Recovery Advisory Service is available to any business owner/operator in East Gippsland, Wellington and North East Victoria experiencing hardship, recovering from disasters, and needing special assistance.

Book a freeone-on-one session with a Business Recovery Adviser for help with all aspects of business operations, recovery planning and resilience building strategies.

These strategies can help you reactivate your business and develop sustainable business models to strengthen and grow through the recovery period and beyond.