The SpeakEasy Cooperative is FOUR years old. Please Celebrate with Us!

by | Mar 4, 2021 | 0 comments

Category: Business

It’s true! It’s true! While the planning and the thinking and the setting it all up began in the Spring of 2016… The SpeakEasy Cooperative opened its doors in March of 2017, to little fanfare and in much timidness. Now? The SpeakEasy Cooperative is FOUR years old, please celebrate with us!

Every business, as it grows, will find itself in a state of becoming. Sometimes, when we start things, we are unaware of our potential, our impact, and our capacity.

More often than not, we think too small. We base our future on our past. We blame our success on “flukes”. We refuse to take positive responsibility for what our business will, and has, become.

As The SpeakEasy Cooperative is four years old now, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the last four years, share a bit of our Origin Story (Institutional memory!), and ask you, quite boldly, to join us in our next season of growth.

How did The SpeakEasy Cooperative begin?

In 2014, my family and I made a huge life change. We moved from Silicon Valley to the Sacramento area. My husband was going to become an editorial food photographer and SacTown (as people here sometimes call it) was quickly gaining a reputation (through some brilliant marketing!) for being the Farm to Fork Capitol.

We moved here when my daughter was five weeks old and my son was three. We had six figures in the bank from the sale of our San Jose condo, we had decided that I would close the voice studio I ran in SJ and take six years to work as Chief Domestic Officer, then re-open my business in 2020, after both kids were in school.

You can stop laughing now. ‘

Very long story short: The work that we moved here for fell through, we used up the six figures in the bank, went several tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and Hubby got a regular ol’ job. (Don’t worry, we are all good now, and Hubby has a different job that is a great fit for his skills and expertise.) It was time to get back to the studio – for hell or high water – whether I wanted to or not.

In a series of interesting events, I wound up the president of the local chapter of NATS, the lead singer of the Dave Bass Quintet, an online voice teacher for kiddos I worked with back in Silicon Valley, was a traveling “get your tech week in order” assistant director for youth theaters, and began giving presentations for NATS Regionals, in the span of two years.

In 2016, I was speaking on Belting for Classical Singers at a Regional Conference. By this time, I knew I wanted to start a subscription membership of some sort – but I thought I would start it for female and femme college and university musical theater majors – supporting them through intersectional feminism.

I needed some community in my life, and the FB groups at the time for voice professionals were not a healthy place for me.

Mentoring students in adulting, and modeling how to not be an asshat was something I could do. The handful of my female and femme students who were interested already saw how I didn’t always stick to voice teaching in lessons… that pesky life-coach and mentor stuff just won’t quit.

Prepping for the conference was hard. Whenever I reached out for help, I didn’t get it. (Now I know I didn’t ask the right people.) With trepidation, in my bio for that conference, I mentioned something about running a successful studio in Silicon Valley and that I had just moved to the Sacramento area to rebuild a studio there.

After the presentation, a circle of about ten teachers gathered around me to ask questions. “AWESOME!” I thought! “I get to teach teachers some cool stuff about non-amplified singing.”


Every. Single. One. Asked. About. Business.

“You have a SUCCESSFUL studio?? What is this magic?”
“How much do you charge?”
“Do you do a lot of marketing?”
“How can you only teach six people and make so much?”
“What is your policy around X, Y, Q?”

Like a lightning bolt in an Arizona monsoon – I was struck down with the glorious and terrifying realization that the subscription membership I was to start was for teachers, not students.


Here’s the part where I could tell you how I total messed up my PayPal buttons, or how we didn’t have a website, or how I positive it would be like me and twenty friends just hanging out. I could tell you how I didn’t do the market research like one is supposed to because the only groups out there were TOXIC and I freaked out every time I went to post on the “self-promotion” days. I’m not going to though, because we have some celebrating to do, instead!

The SpeakEasy Cooperative is four years old.

A lot has happened in four years.

We have grown quickly – we lost some of the small and intimate culture that was there for the first season. I fought that hard. My fighting it had consequences. I made mistakes.

We have grown more effective – more and more people gaining clarity, boundaries are being realized and enforced with grace and grit. Prices and fee structures that bring people to a living and thriving wage are implemented. We created the Virtual Cocktail Parties and Champagne Brunches of continuing ed for pedagogy. I train on business stuff at Tuesday Trainings. We have group coaching, guest speakers, gif parties.

We have grown to love growing – now that we know how to ride the waves a little better, have a more clear idea on where we are headed and who we serve. By “we”, I mean the team at Fck AND each member of SECO. We have some fancy pants standard operating procedures, members are a part of this growth mindset and come here to change, on purpose, even if it’s scary. We even have a hashtag for it – #immadoitanyway

We’ve grown in collaboration – we’ve added a team of coaches and FaithCultureKiss Studios has expanded its suite of offers for business owners. We invite the members to teach, talk, train, and add to the daily conversation. Members hire each other to work in each others businesses, when appropriate. We share #sassafrass to enjoy each others’ wins.

And when I look back on 2020, and how we got over 100 teachers online in a matter of WEEKS at the time of our three year birthday and therefore did not celebrate our three year birthday… whew.

I feel an overwhelming swell of pride for what this group of humans has become.
My heart aches with gratefulness that these humans have invited my work to be part of their journey and business and personal growth.
My eyes flood with the beautiful and heavy responsibility I have to this company, its team, and its clients.

You are invited to join the revolution.

It is a victory for the voice-business world that The SpeakEasy Cooperative can no longer use “a voice teacher group” as a unique value proposition.

I am flooded with joy that more and more coaches and membership groups have popped up in the last four years to serve voice teachers and other voice business owners.

This new wave of our field desiring to see voice-related business owners thrive thrills me to no end!

Y’all. We started a revolution. The voice world is different today because of this group of powerful, dedicated, refuse-to-settle, powerhouse ragamuffins. This group of indy studio sole-props, multiple location multi-teacher studio corporations, bodyworkers, and nutrition experts, and SLP/SLT’s and rehabilitation specialists – watching them elevate the vibration and reduce scarcity is EXACTLY what we set out to do.

And we will keep doing it.

In the next year, our goal in SECO is to create and offer our best with even more clarity, focus, and love than ever before.

If you are ready to join a group where you can choose your own path and get support while you walk (or run) it, where you can ebb and flow in and out of focused, dedicated work and restful self-nurturing, where you can mingle with professionals who will call you in to the best version of yourself, believing that we are all in this together, then join us, here, now.

As our Readership, how can we celebrate YOU?

Even though this blog is “The SpeakEasy Cooperative is FOUR years old. Please Celebrate with Us!”, it just wouldn’t be SECO without sharing the love and #sassafrass!

It doesn’t matter if you are in SECO or not, I’d love for you to share what you have accomplished in the last four years.


In the comments, brag on yourself.
Tell us your amazingness.
Reflect on your accomplishments, your growth spurts, and your learning moments.

Take a moment, and to celebrate with us, celebrate you!

All My BeastyBoss,

Michelle Markwart Deveaux blog signature

P.S. The team and I are going live on Monday, March 8, at 9am Pacific to tell our stories of celebration! I would love it if you joined us! Click here for the FB page.

Michelle Markwart Deveaux

Michelle Markwart Deveaux (124)

As CEO of FaithCultureKiss Studios, LLC, I lead underestimated humans through the personal and professional development needed to create successful solo and team-based businesses.

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