Turning a creative enterprise into a successful business is no mean feat. Caroline Redman Lusher tells us how she achieved entrepreneurial success and creative impact with Rock Choir.
Rock Choir began as a student get-together, when Caroline Redman Lusher – its founder and director – was teaching A Level students. What started as a way to improve her students’ confidence has since grown into a 25,000+ strong choral society and a successful business, with groups across the UK meeting every week.
“I saw the way my students reacted to the choir, and how happy it made them, and thought, “What could it do for other people? What could I achieve in the wider community? The business element really came second – it still does. The community and creative aspects have always been the real driving force.”
The basis of Rock Choir is simple: it’s a choral society that sings rock and pop songs instead of traditional music. Members pay a modest subscription to join their local group, led by a trained choir leader. In 2011, the choir saw a surge of interest as it formed the basis of ITV documentary The Choir That Rocks, a period that brought the business – and Caroline – to breaking point.
“After the documentary, Rock Choir very nearly fell victim to its own success,” explains Caroline. “It enjoyed huge growth without the structure to support it. As it grew so quickly, I soon found myself acting as CEO, MD, teacher, choir leader, PR, and the creative driving force of the business. Needless to say, it couldn’t go on.”
Following a suggestion from a friend at Universal Music, Caroline assembled a board of directors in 2013, appointing an MD to take the weight of managing the business and allow Caroline to focus on her role as creative leader.
“Our first MD didn’t work out, but that’s part of the learning process; our second appointment was perfect. Finding the right people has been such a crucial part of growing the business. For a creative enterprise that has such a personal impact on its members, we’ve really had to make sure that everyone who joins – from freelance choir leaders to head office personnel – is on the same page.”
Finding and keeping the right talent has been key to Rock Choir’s success. “We choose staff and choir leaders very carefully, but once you’re in, you are part of the family,” says Caroline. “It’s important for me to make sure that everyone who works here is paid well, feel supported and, ultimately, feel like they are part of something bigger.”
As far as the long term goal for the business is concerned, Caroline intends to stay focussed on the values she launched the business with, putting community before profit. “Some of the people closest to me say that, through Rock Choir, I’m just trying to build a world that I want to live in. I think there’s definitely some truth in that.”
Caroline Redman Lusher was featured in the 2017 Smith & Williamson Power 100, celebrating those who champion British entrepreneurship, created in association with Fresh Business Thinking.