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Alliance SBDC News

Perfect Blend - Dwight's Musical Heartbeat

Sometimes your entrepreneurial journey starts with coming home. In May of 2018, Allison Rhodes had completed her Bachelor of Arts in Music with concentrations in Piano Pedagogy and General Music and was on the road touring with three different groups from her Wisconsin university. With eight weeks of school left on her calendar, she had no plan of where her career was going. As a respite before striking out to find a job, and on the advice of her parents, she returned home to Dwight, IL.

Upon her arrival, she had four families contact her about music instruction for their children. By the end of the month, she had a solid roster of instruction students.

In passing one day, Jane Anderson, a cornerstone at the Dwight Economic Alliance, asked what her dream was. Allison bravely shared that her dream was to create a coffee shop and music instruction studio. Jane and Debra Karch (the DEA’s Executive Director) introduced Allison to local investors. Suddenly, her long-term dream was right around the corner.

The DEA also connected Allison with the Small Business Development Center and Allison began working with Amy Lambert and Jim Coughlin. The team created a game plan to start “Perfect Blend Music Studio and Coffee Shop.” Together, they identified the community needs her business would fulfill, planned a roadmap to incrementally build her vision, and refined her business plan and projections. With that full roster (and now a waiting list) of students, the music studio needed to come first, with a plan for coffee shop in phase two.

“I love my hometown. My family is here. My future is here. Returning home to Dwight has given to me is the opportunity to create myself and my future. I would have never thought that I would be achieving this dream. I thought it would still be decades away.” Allison said. “Without the enormous support of both the Dwight Economic Alliance and the Illinois SBDC at the Starved Rock Country Alliance, my journey would be far from the where I am right now. Having these entities on my side to connect, educate, and support me in how to start my business… well, it simply wouldn’t exist.”

Allison worked with her investors to brainstorm possibilities, milestone goals, and direction. Together they identified a downtown Dwight location that was perfect for Allison’s vision to grow into.

Perfect Blend Music Studio opened its doors on September 24, 2019. Currently, private piano lessons are available. Group classes are being developed for toddlers, adolescents, and adults. Keep your eyes open for the coffee shop in 2020!

“My hope has been to revitalize musicianship in my hometown and it’s still early, but its working! It is wonderful to be part of revitalizing our small town through the arts. I am thrilled with every student I instruct. Together we are creating the musical heartbeat in Dwight.”

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