We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Robitaille and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anna, we’d love to hear about your relationship with your siblings.
I had the best childhood growing up in Bankers Hill. We are Sicilian and so was the neighborhood I grew up in. My relationship with my two older brothers had me always admiring them and I looked up to both of them. They taught me how important hard work is and how to interact with the neighborhood children and to be respectful towards adults. My oldest brother started working in our neighbors’ yards when he was 13 years old. Once he was 16 years and old enough to get a job, he then passed down the gardening jobs to my other brother and myself. We were young teens working on Saturday mornings while our friends were enjoying their leisure Saturday mornings. But my brothers and I were excited with earning money at such a young age and were proud of our hard work. I grew up in a family where hard work got you far in life. Starting with my great grandfather who left Sicily for a better life in America. He ventured off to San Diego and sold fish door to door in Little Italy. My Grandmother also worked in a tuna cannery on Pacific Highway since she had to help support the family. She was a divorced mother and worked hard enough to build a house in Bankers’ Hill. She, along with the rest of my family, taught me hard work and how to establish nurturing relationships. Communicating well and establishing positive relationships has helped me with customer service through the years and has also taught me how to interact well with our students. My family and I are still a tight knit family. Unfortunately we lost my oldest brother in a car accident last year and we lost my mother 3 months later to Alzheimer’s. Their deaths taught me how precious life is. If you have a dream to open up a business you should go for it and not be afraid in trying. Life is short and precious and should be lived out to the fullest. I often think of my mother and brother and how they saw my business evolve in the last 11 years and I know that they would be proud of what I have accomplished today.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets us apart from others is the long relationship we have had with the neighborhood. I grew up in Bankers Hill and went to school in Mission Hills and my grandmother lived at the Green Manor. Having a business in Mission Hills has solidified my love for the neighborhood. Many years ago there was a need for the arts in the community and I wanted to fill that void by opening up a music school. The neighborhood immediately responded to this in a positive way and started to support my business, We still have some families who have been taking lessons with us since we first opened our doors. It was a challenging at first trying to establish students and to also start up a business during the recession. But since there was such a need for the arts, I wanted to make it work and thanks to the community, it did. Hard work and a little but of luck will get you far in life.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First, I would show my visitor historic Gaslamp District downtown and Little Italy which showcases San Diego’s history. We would even visit The Waterfront Bar which was the first bar in San Diego. It also has pictures on its walls of the fisherman who long ago caught fish in that area long ago. Then I would take them to somewhere fun like O.B. Since Ocean Beach is so eclectic, it has such a fun and exciting atmosphere. It reminds me so much of Venice Beach with such an interesting collection of people. And not mention the beach there is nice too. Another stop would be Bankers’ Hill. I love the Victorian homes in that neighborhood and of course Balboa Park. It’s a great neighborhood to walk around in and to see the historical plaques hanging on the front doors of the beautiful homes. Lastly, I would show off Mission Hills. Mission Hills has livened up with businesses through the years. It’s also fun to have dinner and drinks at Harley Gray and to catch an outdoor movie at the Cinema Under the Stars on Goldfinch Street. It’s also nice walking around the historical Mission Hills Nursery that Kate Session originally opened, and grabbing a coffee from Meshuggah Shack.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Shoutout goes to the hard working and loving family that I grew up in. They were dirt poor from Sicily and had a dream to come to America and create a better life. As I previously said, my great grandfather sold fish door to door in Little Italy. and his daughter, my grandmother, worked at a tuna cannery to help support the family. She was paid by piece rates, which meant that she was paid by how fast she could work. She even won awards for being the fastest employee because she knew how important that big paycheck meant to her family. One of her brothers opened up a barber shop downtown, another brother was a fisherman, and another brother was a carpenter. They were not educated people but had skills that they could use to establish substantial careers. They all loved their new lives in the States and were grateful to leave their previous lives behind. They taught me to look ahead in life and to become a better version of yourself as you move towards the future.

Website: www.missionhillsmusic.org
Facebook: Mission Hills Music