It all began for Candace Alper when she was on maternity leave. In Canada, new moms are able to take up to a year off which has led to a growing number of mompreneurs in the country. Having a year to herself and her new baby, Candace was able to take the time to think about her life and her career. With an infant daughter, she started singing the songs all moms know and love but she would incorporate Hannah’s name to personalize the tunes.
Before long – “If You’re Happy and You Know It” became “If You’re Hannah and You Know It” and the idea of Name Your Tune was born. Candace’s husband, Eric works in the music industry and he supported the idea of the new business venture and also brought significant skills and expertise to the table. From the beginning, the focus has been on making music fun for children and parents alike. By customizing songs with a child’s name, this wife and husband team has been able to take classic children’s songs to a new place.
Sing a New Song
Candace admittedly has no experience in the music industry but her background in liberal arts and education has provided her with a cadre of transferable skills that help her run the business. Directly after college, Candace hoped to pursue teaching but the lack of opportunities in the education field led her to a position in the retail industry. She was working her way up the management ladder when she became pregnant with Hannah. The plan was to go back right after her maternity leave but Name Your Tune happily took her life in a different direction.
Candace has been active with children and youth in her community through social programs, summer camps and trips abroad so creating a new business about kids was an ideal fit. They started with 9 songs and 800 recorded names. Candace and Eric invented the technology to personalize the songs with a child’s name in the recording process.
Eric’s music background came in very handy with this new business venture. As the company co-founder, he has been active in the Canadian music scene for 15+ years and has experience with media relations and acquisitions for Koch Entertainment which proved extremely valuable for Name Your Tune.
Bringing Home the Bacon and Cooking It
In the beginning, Candace admits she was useless around computers as technology was not her forte. But, she is now the company’s one-woman IT department and coordinates the efforts of 4 amazing singers, producers, and a West Coast office, handling most of the day-to-day tasks herself.
Being a mompreneur and a WAHM (work at home mom) means that Candace can be her own boss. She sets her own hours, which lends itself to a flexible schedule so she can balance her varying roles as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and business owner. While Candace admits to accepting a certain amount of imbalance as a reality to her day, she feels fortunate to be able to work from home and enjoy the little things that she couldn’t do if she worked off site.
While juggling Name Your Tune responsibilities she usually does a few loads of laundry and gets her daughter to and from school daily. She has become the queen of multi-tasking. On an ambitious day this might also include cooking a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce because these are things that she is able to fit in during her work day now.
A Hard Day’s Night
While the work day might sound idyllic, prioritizing her family during the day means that Candace often works at the computer well into the night. Eric is often at her side since this business is truly a joint venture and a family affair. She has his total support and kid coverage when the job requires her working weekends away for promotional events to brand their product. They have developed a partnership and have each other’s backs to cover things on the work and home front.
Since the company launch, Name Your Tune has become the leading personalized CD in the world. Children will hear their name more than 80 times throughout 14 treasured songs and they now have over 4500 names to choose from!
People Magazine called Name Your Tune CDs “This year’s most coveted item.” in 2009. NBC’s The Today Show calls the CD “Must have baby gear – now that’s something to sing about!” Celebrity parents sporting customized CDs include: Patrick Dempsey, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie, Matt Damon, Debra Messing, Tori Spelling, Denise Richards and many more.
The business is thriving now and going better than Candace and Eric ever expected. But, the start-up costs were significant. Family was very supportive and Candace’s dad is an accountant who shared his financial wisdom and backing for the new company.
With 4 performers and a full studio assembled to record the customized songs, Name Your Tune cost $25,000 to become functional in the very beginning. Candace and Eric also have West Coast partners that manage and grow the business in the states. They see it as a 4-way partnership and each person has a specific job that makes the engine run.
Candace warns other aspiring entrepreneurs to protect themselves legally early on and seek out expert advice from a lawyer. She and Eric sought out the counsel of many specialists to make up for skills they did not possess. Defining their unique brand in the marketplace has been incredibly important as well as the research required to figure out the nuance of supply and demand in the kid’s music industry.
At the end of the day, Candace is happy as a WAHM but warns other moms to be realistic about what you can commit to while raising your family. “Sometimes you have to learn to live with the fact that the beds aren’t made and the dirty dishes in the sink because you are working and growing your business while raising your kids. And that’s ok!” Candace is still figuring out the delicate balancing act and no two days are alike. She wants her daughter to know that there is more to life than work even though as a WAHM she is never off duty.
Play it Forward
A portion of company proceeds are donated to Hear Here, the non-profit, charitable organization that purchases hearing aids for children through the Hospital for Sick Children. In 2007, Candace also launched a campaign called Play it Forward, a new initiative to support the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund. This effort collects new and pre-loved CDs to be distributed across Canada in support of Music Therapy. With the support and generosity of her customers, friends and colleagues, over 20,000 CDs were collected and distributed last year.
The accolades keep rolling in since Name Your Tune CDs have been named as an iParenting Award winner, the Parent to Parent Award, and in 2010, was nominated for both a Nickelodeon Parent Pick Award and Candace was herself nominated for an RBC Entrepreneur Award.
Out of a great idea, a song or two, and a lot of hard work and enthusiasm, Candace Alper changed her tune and reinvented her career from retail management in waiting to record label entrepreneur.
Candace’s Advice and Action Steps:
- To the WAHMs – don’t underestimate how hard it is to work at home.
- Empower yourself with information and seek help from others who do what you can’t.
- Don’t take things personally, business is business.
- Research the market you want to enter and find out what the needs are. Plan your transition according to what you love and what is needed.
“It’s only a good idea if you do it – so do it fully!” Candace Alper
Name Your Tune www.nameyourtune.com