Today we’d like to introduce you to Desislava Grueva.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Desislava. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve been passionate about music my entire life. When I was just seven years old, my preschool music teacher shared with my parents that I have a musical talent and should start music lessons. With no hesitation, I chose the piano. Nothing was as important as my best friend, the piano. I enjoyed making music and would spend hours upon hours practicing. After only a few years, I was accepted into the most prestigious music school for gifted students in Bulgaria. I graduated in music pedagogy and music in media which led me to my first job as a radio presenter for Bulgaria National Radio. Although it was a lot of pressure, I truly enjoyed the work I did. At the age of 26, I moved to Dubai and started teaching piano at a small music school. Shortly after I began teaching, I also found a passion for leadership and management. I was given the position of Assistant Director. Many years of hard work, sleepless nights and learning, I successfully led the company to grow to 10 locations and more than 2500 students.
The work was rewarding but I knew bigger ventures were on the horizon for me; it was time for another challenge. I sold everything I owned there, packed two suitcases, and moved to the US. I was pretty naive thinking I would have it easy with a solid background. However, being a foreigner in America, I was suddenly faced with numerous challenges and I had to figure things out pretty quickly. I didn’t have time for mistakes and I needed to stay focused. I enrolled in an International Business program at the University of Washington, Seattle where I met amazing people and professionals. It was such an honor to learn from the best of the best. Some of my professors had worked with Bill Gates for years and I could sit and listen to their inspiring stories for hours. Shortly after the program in Seattle was complete, I moved to Los Angeles and continued to study Music Business at UCLA. During my time there, I grew an interest in Music Supervision since it incorporated creativity, business, and law. Determined to become a part of this small community, I sent thousands of resumes but was continuously denied. I eventually reached an end to my finances with no resources available to me.
As a temporary solution, I started teaching piano in the OC and LA areas at various music schools. I quickly noticed the void that was left in music education and realized with my background and education, I could accomplish something better. I saw the potential to provide the community with a more modern and positive music environment for kids and their parents. One thing led to another and in January 2017, I opened WePlay Music doors within a month. I was very fortunate to create a team of highly qualified and enthusiastic teachers from the very beginning that took into heart every interaction with their students. My company has been growing ever since and I couldn’t be happier to work along with such talented professionals. We hope to grow the interest in music and be able to nurture young talents.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest challenge I have faced was when I changed my approach to everything and forced myself to be comfortable with the fact that I was starting from zero. Finding comfort in constant discomfort is a recipe for growth. There is no fallback plan, you have to make it. Often people ask me how I did that, I simply say I had no choice but to make it. Music taught me to be committed and consistent, dedicated and always strive for the best. Music teaches you lifelong lessons. The same lessons are taught by the leaders in any aspect of our life; sport, film, entertainment, business, etc. Music humbles you and teaches you to be patient.
Even when I first opened my music school, there was always the risk that everything could be pulled from underneath me. Pushing through that first year was a huge challenge, the uncertainty forces you to be better and make more of every single day. The days and hours spent to improve when you have a business are countless, you need to be ready for all that and enjoy being under pressure.
Please tell us about WePlay Music.
WePlay Music specializes in high-quality music education while providing a positive environment for students of all ages. We focus on investing in our students for the long term so they can reach their fullest potential. Instead of running as a business, we function as a community. Every teacher genuinely cares about their student’s well-being, their progress and is there to lead them through the journey. It’s so rewarding to see our students happy and proud of the work they have accomplished. Our students have won various medals, many with the highest-ranking scores in the country. What sets us apart from the competition is that we care about every detail involved in running a music school. We also focus on competing with ourselves instead of comparing ourselves to others. I’ve always followed my vision for WePlay Music and stayed true to the path I’ve paved.
Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well-positioned for?
As a foreign woman, I never felt I had fewer opportunities. Everything is out there for you if you believe in yourself, are honest and follow your passion. Even though many people see me as a successful businesswoman, I still don’t consider myself to have reached my full potential. I hope my business will give me more opportunities to contribute to the community and help those that need it the most.