With the unemployment rate among people who are blind or visually impaired said to be somewhere between 50 and 75 percent, owning your own business can be a great way to control your own financial freedom.
Today meet voice over artist Satauna Howery. She’s one of the winners of the Hadley Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship and Employment’s New Ventures Competition.
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Check out the talking baby commercial as mentioned in the piece…
There are some real advantages to operating your own business.
Besides being your own boss;
– You are doing something you enjoy!
– You can make your own schedule
– You have the potential for significant financial reward
The Forsythe Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship, part of The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, recently awarded a total of 25thousand dollars to three winners of their first New Venture Competition.
I spoke with Colleen Wunderlich, the director of the Forsythe Center who says the goal of the competition was to incentivize their students to move forward with their business plans.
We had about 20 applicants. Students had to submit a business plan with all the components; financial plan and the market research. We had a panel of three judges. One of our judges is blind and was in the rehab field for much of his life. He was an entrepreneur. Our other two judges were entrepreneurs as well. I wanted our judges to be people who have lost and won in business because that’s really were the lessons are learned.
Three finalists were chosen and flown out to Chicago for one last in person interview with the judges.
Meet one of the winners of the New Venture Competition
My name is Satauna Howery and I’m a voice actor, so I talk all day for a living which is really fun! [Fading giggle!]
It’s fun, but her voice is her business.
I work for anybody who needs a voice. When you walk in the store and you hear those people come over the intercom sometimes there people and sometimes it’s just a commercial telling you what the specials are for the week. Somebody said that! And somebody got paid to say that. Voice works spans the gambit of all sorts of things. Audio books, I do radio and TV ads… I do “crazy video game characters [Said in a high pitched cartoon voice]or animated cartoon kinds of things. Audio description, that’s gotta be voiced. I’ve done “Mosha and the Bear”, “F is for Family” and “Lego Friends” for Netflix. I do a lot of corporate work. So people will want to explain their products through video. There’s a lot of E-Learning out there, I’ve read more Conflict of interest resolution manuals.
And just how exactly does she accomplish all of this?
I get the script via email on a Braille display. I have this four by six Whisper room booth that I sit in and I’m in front of a microphone which is connected to my computer and I record directly into the computer and I edit and clean it up and I send it to the client.
With natural gifts and interests, Satauna was well equipped for a career as a voice over artist.
My parents brought a piano home when I was two and I started playing with my thumbs…[Giggle] then I went to nursery school and I came home and figured out that I could play with all my fingers. I didn’t start formal training until I was about seven. And I only took about four years of formal classical training before I came to my parents and decided I wanted to just quit and be my own person.
When I was a kid I had my own recording studio. My Dad built that. It was actually a separate building from our house. I engineered and arranged for other people and I certainly wrote music on my own.
It actually took me a while to come into the digital world, but I eventually got there . So doing voice over I had the skills to do all of the editing and that kind of thing. I understood how to make all of it work.
As a teen Satauna dabbled in voice over related projects ,
But for the most part I did music growing up and I thought about doing a voice over demo and I thought about it for many many years as an adult. And I kept saying yeah yeah I’m gonna do it someday.
A friend of mine showed up one day and she was all excited. She was going to go do a voice demo and she had just gone to a local studio that did voice coaching and I thought wow! I have all these skills, she’s starting out with absolutely none of them and she’s just gonna go do this?
I should just go do this!
Demo in hand, Satauna signed up with casting websites connecting voice over artists with companies and organizations seeking a voice.
Two or three days of submitting auditions with no offers, she realized the process was a bit harder than she expected.
Learning that others already established in the field had more auditions under their belt than she did, she came to the understanding…
I gave up too soon!
So I went back to auditioning and within three days I had my first job.
[Demo of Satauna here]
And her business has been growing ever since!
One requirement for entry into the New ventures competition was completion of a course in Hadley’s forsythe Center.
I took marketing research, , the marketing plan and the financial plan. Thinking that those would give me insight as to what they were looking for when I wrote up my business plan. And they certainly did … I’ve been doing this for little over three years now and I just never sat down and actually tried to write anything up because I never gone to a bank or an investor and attempted to get money. So I’ve just been flying by the seat of my pants.
Actually, that time in the industry is extremely valuable. Colleen Wunderlich from Hadley explains.
You have to work in an industry to know what’s needed what works, what doesn’t … Three to five years of industry experience to launch a successful business… unless you’re a person who started so many businesses that you really understand how to start businesses and make them succeed.
But voice over is more than just speaking into a microphone…
Right now I do everything on my own. From all of the admin and marketing to the actual voice work and then the production of that voice work.
Production includes editing and manipulating audio.
This is the business plan…
Satauna recognizes the opportunity to expand and employ part time editors and others who can perform some of these production related tasks.
Can this include others who are blind or visually impaired?
Sure, absolutely. I know there are blind people out there who have the kinds of audio skills that I have.
there are some real advantages to a voice over business especially for someone who is blind or others with disabilities
I don’t have to think about transportation… Most of the time my clients don’t know I can’t see, they don’t need to know, there’s no reason. It’s so flexible and I get to be somebody different every day. I really get to set my own hours and work with people all over the world. It’s so much fun!
While you may not get recognized in public, there are times you can enjoy and even point others to some of your work.
I worked with Delta Airlines… I’ve done some of their overhead promotional work.
I was on a plane from Minneapolis to Los Angeles… so we’re sitting on the runway and all of a sudden it’s me talking to everybody…[laughter] about Delta Wi-Fi and you know you should download the Delta app…
There was a T.V commercial for Empire Today were I was a talking baby. That was fun cause I could say to people this is where you’ll find me …
I think I still know that jingle…
[Together Satauna and Thomas recite the jingle!]
“800 588 2300 Empire…
That’s exactly right!
[Both laugh to a fade]
C’mon now, don’t act like I’m the only one who sings that commercial.
[In the background Thomas is singing the Empire jingle to himself]
Available in every state and internationally Hadley has a lot to offer.
We have a high school program so if someone is trying to finish a high school diploma …
We still do offer courses in Braille and large print and audio, but the business courses primarily are online. We believe if you can’t be online then you can’t really be in business in today’s world.
If you are a budding entrepreneur or business owner with an idea and want to participate in a future New Venture Competition Hadley is planning another in the Winter of 2017.
To find out more on that or available classes, you can contact student services.
You can also reach us online at Hadley .edu.
For more on Satauna or to find out where she is in the process of growing her support staff, stay tuned to her website or follow her via social media…
www.satauna.com [Spells name phonetically]
I’m also emailable at email@example.com.
I’m on Twitter @SataunaH. You could search for me on Facebook or Linked In too.
This is Thomas Reid
“I started playing with my thumbs”]
For Gatewave Radio, Audio for Independent Living!
When producing stories for Gatewave, I try to edit down to what I think would be of interest to the most listeners.
However, , there was much more to the conversation. Put me in ear shot of another audio geek and I’m asking about gear…
Now, I know I’m not supposed to be jealous and I’m definitely not supposed to admit it, but man she had her own recording studio as a teen… that’s so dope!
I remember making my pause tapes and thinking I was really doing something special…
I simulated a four track recorder by using two cassette recorders and an answering machine to make my own answering machine greeting that included an original beat. It was just me tapping out something on my wooden desk, a sample from some song and original vocals…
Last year I took an interest in audio imaging and voice over and took a shot at creating my own movie trailer.
voice over/Imaging project last year… PCB
This was done for the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind conference which was including an original play…
You can say it’s my hat tip to the movie trailer legend , Mr. In a world… Don LaFontaine.
[Audio Trailer audio including
TR: “In a world of glamor, glitz and fame … everything that glitters isn’t always gold!”]
That’s just a quick sample…
My voice is not as deep and is probably better suited for something else…
I do have a few characters but sharing here may put me at risk of offending a lot of people.
Maybe another time!
BTW, Reid My Mind Radio is going on a summer hiatus. I’m actually in production on another project that I’ll be sharing soon. I’ll be sharing via the podcast so make sure you are subscribed which you can do via iTunes or whatever podcatcher you use. Also go ahead and follow me on twitter at tsreid where I may drop a few details along the way.
Thanks for listening and Peace!