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Tish Ciravolo is on a Mission to Put a Daisy Rock Guitar in the Hands of Girls the World Over

By Mark Madler San Fernando Valley Business Journal Staff

03/02/2010

Posted date: 3/1/2010
Power Chords

Tish Ciravolo is on a Mission to Put a Daisy Rock Guitar in the Hands of Girls the World Over

By Mark Madler
San Fernando Valley Business Journal Staff

Axe Slinger: Daisy Rock made its reputation with guitars made in odd shapes and then expanded into more traditional models.

Tish Ciravolo doesn’t live much of a rock and roll lifestyle these days but hopes that her guitars will inspire girls and women to go down that path.

Starting Daisy Rock Guitars 10 years ago came out of personal experiences Ciravolo faced in the Los Angeles music scene of not being taken seriously as a customer in music stores or as a musician on stage.

Now known the world over as the “girl guitar” company, Daisy Rock offers more than 80 models of guitars ranging in price from $99 to $3,000. These are not toys, Ciravolo emphasizes, but real guitars albeit lighter in weight and with slimmer necks than found on guitars used by males made by competitors.

A division of Alfred Music Publishing in Van Nuys, Daisy Rock brought changes to the retail music industry by opening up a new market.

That new market then brought a change in attitudes at music stores of treating women customers better, said Alfred Music CEO Ron Manus.

With all the ideas Ciravolo has for new model guitars, stopping her is the tough part. “She’s not limited by the convention of what’s been done before,” Manus said.

Question: When you started the company did you think you would last 10 years?
Answer: Yes. We had created something completely different. Before I started my company nobody really thought a girl would want to buy a guitar specifically made for her.

Q: Did you have a lot of business experience at that time?
A: I was with my husband Michael Ciravolo and he is president of Schechter Guitars. It wasn’t so much that I worked for the company as I just tried to help out with anything I could do. Everything from accounting, stuffing envelopes, to getting the guitars in boxes and getting them shipped out. Because I kind of got my boot camp and training in that environment that led me to be able to run my own guitar company. I launched Daisy Rock Guitars with Michael in 2000. It was a division of Schechter Guitars at the time, and I’ve been over here at Alfred Music since 2003.

Q: How did becoming part of Alfred come about?
A: I received an e-mail from (Alfred Music CEO) Ron Manus and he had gone on the web looking for something on growing their company and ended up on my website by accident. He was very impressed with my guitar company and sent an e-mail saying we ought to get together. We got together and started writing the Girl’s Guitar Method and Girl’s Guitar Method II. Alfred Music is about wanting everyone to experience the joy of making music and Daisy Rock’s mission is doing whatever it takes to get more girls to learn to play guitar. We felt those two mission statements matched up really well. Besides it had never been done in our industry before where a publisher would distribute for a guitar company. So they were looking for ways to grow and I was looking for a bigger company to be a part of. It really worked out great.

Q: Are you given independence to run Daisy Rock as you see fit?
A: We are under the umbrella of the Alfred Music family. Alfred has been very, very supportive of what I do and are amazed by all the different things we are able to do with Daisy Rock. Ron is a guitar player, we play in a band together. So as part owner of Daisy Rock he really likes to be involved. Whereas before it was just myself and my husband designing the guitars and coming up with the different ideas and concepts for where we wanted to take the company, Ron was brought in for that. So now Ron is a big integral part of that because he is a player so he can put that part into it too.

Q: In growing the company, what challenges have you faced.
A: There have been many. You have no idea. When I started nobody believed there should be a girl guitar. There hadn’t been one before in our industry. I go out to my first couple of trade shows and I’m convincing dealers by saying take this guitar and put it in the window; you’re going to have someone come into your store who has never been there before. At first I got a lot of ‘That’s a cute idea.’ It didn’t really catch on. It started snowballing a bit more three or four years into it. There was a lot of convincing in the beginning. I started getting taken seriously with the company more when we started doing more of the traditional style guitars. We make guitars just like Gibson and Fender make guitars, we just make girl guitars. That’s been the hardest thing I’ve always had to make people understand is that it’s not plastic. We make high-end professional guitars.

Q: This is the era of the “American Idol”-type singer/performers who don’t play instruments. Has that presented a challenge to selling guitars?
A: I don’t and I think it’s because every day another girl gets old enough to realize she wants to play guitar. That can happen when you’re eight years old and it can happen when you’re 48 years old because there’s a girl guitar company now and there wasn’t before. I think everybody is expressing themselves by playing guitar and bass in all different facets of their life. We are the number one guitar for the Grandmother’s (Cool Rock) Club yet we are the number one guitar in all the teen magazines. We have this real wide range.

Q: How do you go about marketing the company and your guitars?
A: Everything we do is almost viral. It’s really word of mouth. That’s the cool thing about the company. It has such a great passion behind it. To me it’s very organic in that I came from a place where I started the company from my experiences (in the Los Angeles music scene). It’s not like we sat down and did a business plan and thought ‘We’ll make a lot of money if we do this.’ It came really organically from me and then my daughters. Because of that so many people hop onto the idea ‘This is a great passionate thing she is doing; we should completely spread the word about this and more and more people should know about it.’

Q: Did their come a time when you did do a business plan?
A: Of course. When I started the company in 2000 there was somewhat of a business plan put together. We put together another business plan when we came over to Alfred Music, which I needed to submit for them to take consideration to become distributors and part owners of the company. If you have a clear vision about what it is you want to do I don’t think it’s hard to do that. Obviously the numbers have to work. I had to show how much growth I’ve had every year. In the first few years we were doubling (sales). When you are showing that growth I think it’s a lot easier to sell to anybody. We have a plan with here is the market we created now and here are all the other markets I want to go into. When you show the income potential that can come up that is also a great sell too.

Q: Where do you see Daisy Rock Guitars going in the next 10 years?
A: We have this girl rock revolution happening. It’s not going away. It keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We started with one artist and now have over 600 bands that we work with now. We are like a conduit for all the girls who want to learn to play guitar or start a band. We get thousands of emails from all these girls from across the country who are trying to figure it out. We are about 15 percent to 20 percent of the (guitar) playing population now and I’m hoping in the next 10 years it’s going to be 50 percent. So as many guys who play guitar you will see girls play guitar. That’s really what I’m looking for.

Tish Ciravolo
Age: In my 40’s is the closest I can say without having to kill you…..
Title: President/Founder of Daisy Rock Girl Guitars
Education: AA in Business/Communication
Most Admired: Sarah Silverman – she is fearless and fierce!
Career Turning Point: Trying to stop being a musician…
Personal: Married, 2 daughters