Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music Business Spotlight
Marlayna Goosby, Founder and Director of Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music uses her gift to grow the gifts of others.
Born in Louisiana and a military “brat”, Marlayna lived in England, Alaska, and Alabama before moving to Fort Walton Beach in 1995. Her father was Command Chief at Hurlburt Field and her husband is a retired reservist Chief Master Sargent from Duke Field.
She attended Fort Walton Beach High School and the University of Southern Mississippi graduating with a degree in music. As First Clarinet in the university symphony, Marlayna played alongside Doc Severinsen and the original cast of Les Miserable.
Marlayna worked as a mail clerk at Troy University and after five years, she moved up to academic advisor. She was the grants director for the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast and the Director of Academic Advising and Testing for Northwest Florida State College.
Deciding to begin teaching music lessons in her home, she grew the number of students to 23 and had a waiting list of 11 students.
The next decision was to expand. She prayed and began working with a realtor to find an appropriate space to rent. Every location they looked at had daytime businesses next door that might not appreciate the music all day. She needed a stand-alone building. The realtor suggested they look at a building on Beal with road frontage. It turned out to be the building Marlayna took music lessons in when she was younger!
Marlayna and her husband worked day and night to paint the purple walls and grind down the orange concrete floors. The renovation was a labor of love.
Starting small, Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music opened on May 6, 2019, with one employee. In October of 2021, they outgrew the space and found a new location in Harbor Village on Beal.
Grow Your Gift currently serves 300 students per week in the building and through community partnerships such as the Montessori Learning Center, Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast, Choctaw High School, Meigs Middle School, Sinfonia Gulf Coast Youth Orchestra, St. Mary’s Middle School, Shoal River Middle School, Davidson Middle School, Ruckel Middle School, and Liza Jackson Preparatory School.
The conservatory teaches 15 different instruments to students from six months old to 74 years old. There are 16 employees who are all musicians. Marlayna’s entire family are musicians.
Marlayna created the Full Circle Foundation to provide scholarships to students who need access to music education but do not have the ability to pay. With community help, she raised $20,000 in two years.
Grow Your Gift is built on the vision of being the preeminent music institution in the community and that healing comes through music. Friendships are built through group lessons because Grow Your Gift emphasizes collaboration making sure the students get to know each other and providing a high level of service, organization, and commitment.
An ardent proponent of music as an instrument to change lives, Marlayna shares her own daughter’s experience. Kilaya was struggling academically and had low self-esteem. When she started playing the trombone, she blossomed, finding an outlet for her creativity and personality.
Marlayna says adult students feel they are finally doing something for themselves and are proud they can learn something new later in life.
Students share in the community through performances, learn new concepts, gain confidence and self-esteem, engage in peer-to-peer mentoring, and are held accountable because the group depends on each other.
Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music offers private lessons, group lessons, and summer camps. Growing the gifts of students of all ages and seeing the positive impact is a wonderful gift in itself for Marlayna Goosby. She isn’t going to rest on her laurels. She has plans to expand even more and continue to grow your gifts.
When asked how she would advise aspiring entrepreneurs, Marlayna says:
1: Always plan as if you are at full capacity whether that’s inventory or customers. That way you don’t have to scale when things get busy.
2: It’s tempting to save money by doing it all yourself but don’t. You will stress and burn out. It is best to invest in good help. You have to spend money to make money.