Renee Bordner is a long time Pepperlane community member who owns her own small business, a music studio called Note-worthy Experiences. A business owner who balances motherhood with growing her business, Renee’s also a dedicated boost leader for Pepperlane. Pepperlane is a community that helps moms building businesses of one succeed by creating a safe space for them to work on their business challenges and receive advice and support from a community of supportive fellow mothers.
For many moms, their journey to Pepperlane and small business ownership is a long and winding one. So, how did you become the owner of Note-worthy Experiences?
I’m an art and music therapist by background who discovered I love teaching. Fifteen years ago, I was a stay at home mom - I had left the workforce because of a concern with a possible health issue for my daughter, one that was thankfully resolved.
But here I was, at home, having left a career in health care. And, I was looking for a piano teacher for my own son. I truly couldn’t find a teacher I gravitated towards and that energized me. I kept asking my mom friends for recommendations and I wasn’t coming up with anything. Then, my mommy-and-me group friends would say: “Renee, you have a masters, you love music, you have a piano - why don’t you teach? I said “what, who me? No way!”
The goal was to teach 4-6 neighborhood children. That goal quickly went by and I was teaching 55-56 students a week. I used to go to baseball or ballet and people would say “Hey Renee, do you know a good clarinet teacher?" I would keep a word document of tips and share them, and did sometimes wonder - why am I spending all my time building other people’s businesses? I took that thought and stuck it to the side. I never did anything with it.
At that time we were in the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania area for my husband’s work. He was given a new job opportunity and we decided to relocate to the Boston area. I said goodbye to all the students in Pennsylvania and I kept a few students on Skype! (Remember that platform?).
We moved to a town called Sudbury, Massachusetts. Once I was settled and had torn down the old wallpaper and set up our new home and settled kids into school, I started teaching. A year later I was back to a wait-list for piano lessons in New England. I had no idea that people were going to embrace my family the way they did. We moved wow, it’s going on 10 years ago, and I started growing by hiring teachers for Note-worthy Experiences about eight years ago.
Remember that idea I parked in Bethlehem, and that word document I used to share with families? Today, I have 57 teachers teaching for us. We are teaching 500 lessons on 25 different instruments. Our youngest student is 3 and our oldest is 87. We are all over the Metro West and we also still teach online. We have been through one pandemic and two global recessions and we are still here.”
"Today, I have 57 teachers teaching for us. We are teaching 500 lessons on 25 different instruments. Our youngest student is 3 and our oldest is 87. We are all over the Metro West and we also still teach online. We have been through one pandemic and two global recessions and we are still here.”
You are a Boost leader. Tell us about your experience with boosts.
I like the boosts the best. The world has changed - I do still long for the in-person boosts. But the online are also magical.
I love meeting people from all over - in my last boost, I met someone from Texas, California and even from my own town! How great is that.
I like the structure of the boosts - we do our pitch, and then we also get the follow on our 1 Simple Act from Pepperlane. No other networking group does that. It’s unique. And, I love being a boost leader.
How else does Pepperlane fit into your life as a mom building a business?
Pepperlane has been a part of my journey for a long time.
I attend events with Pepperlane as a member - I usually hop on to 1 or 2 Pepperlane events a week, picking from their busy events calendar.
In addition, I personally use Pepperlane to flush out ideas - and for the support. Hosting a boost or attending a boost member session minimizes my own challenges. I find it inspiring and comforting to know there are others to have the same challenges as me.
How have you handled being a business owner and mom during the pandemic?
There is no doubt about it - the pandemic has affected us all socially. When do we have social opportunities they are very limited. I chat with friends around the country, meet family, connect with college friends. These are all important moments.
But I keep coming back to Pepperlane. That’s a Zoom screen of women who just GET it. That just KNOW that not only am I managing the grocery list, the carpool and the laundry, the payroll, the interview - but also trying to the 1099’s out.
It’s very different than my other girlfriends and mom friends and it’s different than family.
That’s why I sign up for a Pepperlane thing each week. I know I need that. And it feeds me.
“I keep coming back to Pepperlane. That’s a Zoom screen of women who just GET it.”
How has your business journey inspired and changed your family?
My husband and kids created a 501(c)(3) called Instrumental Angels. I volunteer daily with it. We upcycle musical instruments and ship them around the world. To date we have moved almost 2,000 instruments as far away as Sierra Leone, West Africa.
And you know - I often think about how Pepperlane can support not just us but also our kids as future entrepreneurs. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Renee’s husband and two children started a 501(c)(3) called Instrumental Angels about 4 years ago. It helps upcycle used musical instruments, serving children around the world in need. She volunteers with it daily.
On a bad day, what keeps you going?
Through all the frustration - the bumps and bruises and scraped knees - and so many countless more during Covid, I never quit. Way before “growth mindset” - I just had goals. I started with wanting to teach my son. Then the other students. I always said if I put the students first, I’ll figure the rest out. And I treat all of our families the way I as a parent want to be treated, if I make it family or parent friendly, I’ll figure the rest out. Those have always been and still remain my driving missions.
But there were a lot of smaller me-goals and mom-goals. One I was that I wanted to buy a grand piano. I went and got one - I bought it myself with my Note-worthy money. Paying for vacations, ballet classes, memberships for Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts. I wanted to work to help out with the things my kids needed. These were always the driver. The current steamroller is college tuition and two teen drivers. I want to contribute to that.”
Why should others consider Pepperlane and maybe even consider booking a boost with you?
I say Pepperlane is a safe space to share ideas - a safe space to dream and goal-set and celebrate. Because it’s just different. It’s astounding to stand in a room of corporate types I meet at cocktail parties and be able to use the pitch I learned at Pepperlane and be taken seriously.
To someone who is just getting started, honestly what they are seeking is confidence. To be able to get there - I tell a lot of moms, please DON’T take as long as I did. Learn from others - my journey before Pepperlane took WAY too long.”
Want to book a music lesson for your child with Renee or simply inspired to learn more about her? Visit Renee’s profile page on Pepperlane’s web site.
You can also learn more about Renee and her family’s not for profit, Instrumental Angels, and how it’s changing the lives of children in need via music, here.