A Scarsdale mother has found a way to turn a program adored by her two children into a successful side business.
When Dana Fisher and her husband Joshua lived in Manhattan, their two children, Teddy and Ruby, loved visiting children’s music program Songs for Seeds on the Upper West Side. The program allows children under six years old to interact with a live, three-person band. Children can sing along, dance or even play an instrument, while the band plays a mix of children’s, contemporary and classic rock ’n’ roll music.
“The kids loved the classes and so did the parents,” Fisher recalled.
But when her family moved to Westchester County in 2014, she struggled to find a class that was similar to the one her children enjoyed in the city.
“When we came up here, we really missed it,” she said. “We tried other music classes, and it just wasn’t the same.”
It seemed serendipitous, then, when she received an email blast from the organization’s Manhattan parent company, Apple Seeds, about a franchising opportunity. The company, which operates a trio of indoor playspaces for children across New York City, had recently franchised its Songs for Seeds program and was looking to expand into Westchester County.
“I sent it to my husband and said, ‘This is a sign,’” Fisher said.
The timing may not have been perfect for the couple. Neither had any experience owning their own business, and the duo had recently purchased a house in Fisher’s hometown of Scarsdale.
“We had no money,” she said, laughing. “But we decided that we were just going to go for it.”
To start their franchise in 2015, the pair rented a ground-floor banquet room from Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont & Emanu-El at 2 Ogden Road.
“When we first were going to get started, we went through every scenario,” she recalled. “Like, what if no person ever signs up? Will we have to move from the town”
Thankfully for the Fisher family, their fears failed to become a reality. Instead, families flocked to Songs for Seeds, which features 45-minute classes that children the opportunity to bang on drums, play an electric keyboard or even grab a microphone and sing along.
The fee to start a Songs for Seeds franchise is $45,000, and according to the company’s website, total initial investment ranges from $91,300 to $116,100, along with ongoing royalty of 7 percent of sales.
Along with the musical equipment, training and props, Songs for Seeds also provides a scripted curriculum that includes music, lyrics and lessons for the participants.
“The success of the music program is beyond our expectations,” she said. “We’re thrilled for the kids and their parents.”
Following an “overwhelming” response to the program during its first year, Fisher decided to expand her franchise, first to Rye Brook in 2016 and later in Armonk in September of this year.
Today, nearly 300 children take part in Songs for Seeds classes across Fisher’s three franchises. Fisher’s business also employs nine musicians, three for each location.
Because each outpost of her franchise hosts between 10 to 15 classes each week, “it’s just not a business that can have a storefront,” Fisher said.
As is the case in Scarsdale, Fisher rents a room from Congregation B’Nai Yisrael in Armonk. In Rye Brook, the program rents space from East Point Dance in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center.
“We’re probably going to expand one more time to the rivertowns in the fall, but it might be nice, because we’ve opened a new place every year, it might be nice to have one year” without opening a new location, she said. “But at the same time, it’s nice to build on that momentum.”
Though the success of the business has been rapid, Songs for Seeds is still a side job for Fisher, who has spent two decades working as a producer at the popular daytime program, The View. She frequently finds herself greeting parents at Songs for Seeds in Scarsdale, which sits just a few blocks from her home, before rushing off to her fulltime job.
“I don’t really know how I juggle it all, and my friends ask that question all the time. I am a producer, so I think I am good at time management and getting stuff done quickly,” she said. “I really work on Songs for Seeds most of the night. Parents always say, “I got an email from you at 11:30 p.m.,’ and I just say ‘Yes, you did!’”