Natasha Miller is a San Francisco-based musician who saw an open space in the events industry that needed to be filled. Her career as a classical violinist was taking off and she began having to turn down gigs because she was already booked – when the light bulb went off: what if she filled those performances with other musicians she already knew? At first she provided musicians in the classical and jazz genres but eventually her business Entire Productions started providing dance bands, DJ’s, magicians and full scale entertainment production. Today Miller is thrilled that her business helps keep artists working and the San Francisco music scene thriving.
Miller’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
I was performing as a classical violinist in my string quartet and also as a jazz vocalist. Instead of turning down inquiries to perform when I was already booked, I suggested to the client that I could bring in a group just as good as me and probably better manage them. At age 19, Entire Productions was unofficially born. I started filling performances with my professors and local musicians. I saw a need, a “white space” in the event industry for programming and providing entertainment for special events. I began sending out mostly musicians, like me in the classical and jazz genres, and then began getting requests for dance bands, DJ’s, aerialists, magicians, etc. and it’s just blow up from there. Now we offer entertainment in every genre and discipline from local artists to headline performers from all over the world. It’s been amazing!
My definition of success has changed since starting the business and hopefully will always evolve. I always thought it would be financial, but the truth is once you get to a certain spot, more money isn’t success. For me it’s owning this incredible company, adding jobs to the market, fulfilling our client’s biggest dreams, keeping the arts alive by paying performers to create and entertain. Being recognized in our event industry as well as by the business industry is also pretty amazing and is one of the definitions of success for sure! I am now fueled with the incredible opportunities my recent success affords me. I love mentoring entrepreneurs, speaking to entrepreneurs and people in the event industry and creating new business lines that have split off from our core business. I’m also writing my memoir which wouldn’t be possible without all of the inflection points- both positive and negative- in my life.
For the second year in a row we’ve been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America. Entrepreneur Magazine has named us one of the best businesses in their 360 list, we’re one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in San Francisco per the San Francisco Business Times. This year I’ve been recognized as one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in San Francisco (San Francisco Business Times) and on the BizBash 1000 for best in the event industry. These successes have been incredible for self-esteem, team bonding and marketing/branding, but have also led to opportunities we wouldn’t have had without them. I’m now being asked to speak at the Inc. 5000 events and consult with entrepreneurs to help them.
Our headquarters are in San Francisco- one of the most expensive cities in the country to live in and where the unemployment rate is at about 1.8%. Everyone has a great job and is being paid an incredible amount. That’s hard to compete with. Recruiting is fierce in this market and I’m learning that sourcing talent, interviewing and hiring as well as on boarding and training is a huge responsibility and an art in and of itself. I’ve learned a lot from my studies at MIT and the Harvard Business School and have also adopted the ghSmart method of interviewing which has been a great change for us.
I have so many wonderful role models, it would be hard to select one. One is Victoria Sassine who helped develop the Goldmann Sachs 10ksb program- I’m now on her board of advisors for her company, Scale Smarter Partners. Another is Cindy Kaczmarek who started out as a client, became an advisor and now is an incredible friend and I’m helping her with her business as well. Cindy helped me with defining roles, recruiting talent, managing company culture and invited me to consult with her husband who is the CEO of a large company in the Bay Area. Those relationships helped me to grow by 65% two years in a row. In the meantime, Cindy and I developed a true close friendship and I’m now helping and consulting her in other endeavors. It’s the perfect circle!