Listen to your customer

August 24, 2023

Kristine Dandavino: A Melodic Journey of Passion and Resilience

From her community of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, QC, to the bustling streets of Oshawa, Ontario, Kristine Dandavino’s resonating voice of passion and resilience sings the powerful tune of an unyielding entrepreneur. At the heart of her venture, the Oshawa Piano and Vocal Academy lies a tale of love, struggle, and profound resilience.

“When I look back at why I started, my daughter always comes to mind. She was my beacon, my north star,” Kristine begins, tracing back to her decision to leave a stable job in 2013 and plunge wholeheartedly into her business.

Kristine’s Academy is not just any music school. Her specialized training in handling students with high anxiety, ADHD, and ASD makes her an oasis of hope for many. But it’s not just about the notes; it’s about the soul. “I believe in nurturing the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of a musician. I coach not just their voices, but their hearts,” she shares, echoing the warmth she extends to each student.

Winning the Ontario Music Awards for Teacher of the Year in 2020 was no small feat, especially amidst a global pandemic. “That award was a testament to the love and support I’ve received from my students and community. Building this from scratch, that was my standing ovation,” she says with pride.

The challenges of entrepreneurship have been plentiful. But for Kristine, every hurdle is an opportunity to reevaluate, refocus, and reinvent. “Sometimes, knowing when to let go, when to step back, is essential,” she emphasizes.

Kristine’s involvement with Pow Wow Pitch has been multifaceted. While she came to win, she also cherished the camaraderie with fellow participants. Her mentors, especially Megan McAuley from RBC, taught her to be fiercely proud of her journey and the importance of clarity in communication.

Embracing her Indigenous roots, Kristine’s approach to entrepreneurship is all-encompassing. “My studio, whether virtual or in-person, is a sanctuary. A haven where love and respect reign supreme,” she explains. She believes that while there’s significant progress in accepting Indigenous entrepreneurs, the road is still long.

One of her most profound lessons? Boundaries. “It’s essential to recognize that while catering to clients is crucial, protecting one’s mental and emotional space is paramount,” she stresses.

For budding Indigenous entrepreneurs, Kristine has pearls of wisdom to share. “Start where you are, with what you have. Your reputation and genuine connections will often surpass any advertisement. And always, always listen to your clients.”

But what truly resonates is her parting note: “Believe in yourself. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path, but remember, with every step you take, you’re creating a legacy. And if you ever doubt, know this – we all believe in you. Keep moving forward.”

Kristine Dandavino’s journey, with its highs and lows, is a beautiful symphony of perseverance. Through her Academy, she not only shapes voices but also moulds the future generation of resilient dreamers.

Register to watch Kristine pitch at the Creative Semi-Final Online Watch Party on September 13, 2023, at 6 PM ET and vote for Kristine to win the 2023 People’s Choice Prize (#68) before September 17, 2023.