Editor’s note: For our annual Women in Business issue, we invited women in our local business communities to share insights they’ve gained through their work in Western North Carolina.
Šara Stranovsky is a trilingual arts educator and performer, as well as the director and owner of Bilingual Birdies Asheville, a language and live music program that uses live music, puppetry and theater games to teach foreign language to kids 5 years old and younger. Since launching in October 2022, the program has doubled and now offers both French and Spanish through community classes as well as through partnerships in preschools.
Xpress: What piece of advice do you wish you’d been told prior to launching your business?
Stranovsky: Businesses require unbelievable amounts of admin work! Mostly kidding. I wish people had reminded me that you have to constantly believe in what you are doing because you will have doubts. I work with toddlers, new parents and schools, so people are often too busy to shower you with compliments. Focus on the quality and mission of your work, and validation will come.
How do you feel women in leadership experience their roles differently today than they may have in the past?
Women today are raising the bar higher and higher when we weren’t even in the game in the past. I don’t think leaders “experience roles” because that sounds passive. Leaders, especially women, are creating their own hybrid roles and not merely fitting themselves into existing positions. I’m trying to do it all as a mom, business owner, artist, performer and educator, and I’m driven by that modern entrepreneurial spirit.
What is your most memorable experience as a business owner, and what have you learned from it?
A very shy child attended one of my community classes with her mother. The child was quiet and angry, but she would light up in class in very subtle ways that were not easily visible to her parents. The people pleaser in me would have instantly given the family a refund when they wanted to quit. But I encouraged them to stick with it, and by the end of a week or two, this child triumphantly broke out of her shell, and the parents were grateful. I learned to trust in the education, research, experience and mission behind my personal teaching style and program.