We had the good fortune of connecting with Athena Espinoza and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Athena, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve been a professional singer and performer for over 20 years and have worked in various vocal groups, bands, and theatrical performances throughout San Diego and Los Angeles. I got to the point where I kept thinking about how I’d like to start/create a vocal group of my own and tackle both the creative and business side of things myself. I’ve always loved singing Christmas music since I was a kid singing with my parents (also professional musicians), so I decided to start with a Christmas caroling group and go from there. So, in 2016, I started the Holiday Hipsters, a quartet singing urban, contemporary versions of Christmas carols and songs. This quartet sings Pentatonix covers (yes with beatboxing!), vocal versions a la The Manhattan Transfer and many of our own original arrangements. With the success of this group, I’ve been able to add additional Holiday vocal groups, Dazzling Dickens Carolers (traditional Victorian) and The Holly Pops (a trio of lovely ladies) as well as create new vocal groups that perform year-round, including The Pin-Ups (1940s girl group) and The Vibrations (beach themed fun). I’ve been having so much fun and love working with all my über talented singers, awesome booking agents, and great clients!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Singing and making music is a way for me to connect and communicate with others. Working with other musicians is so rewarding to me as it gives me a chance to collaborate and form a community. I’ve been working in this industry for almost 25 years and it hasn’t always been easy. I had plenty of financial challenges throughout the years due to the fact that the entertainment and music business is competitive and it can be difficult to find that next job or gig at times. And although I have had other jobs along the way, I’ve always come back to singing, performing, and the arts. It’s really my passion and I’m so happy to have finally started my own business providing Christmas carolers and other vocalists for events all through the year. I guess my brand is “the best quality musicians who bring fun, connection, and a desire to create great memories at each new event.” The singers I hire are all professionally trained with strong, upbeat personalities and, ultimately, I want them to enjoy singing together as that really translates to the audience.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a San Diego native, growing up in Encinitas and living here my whole life (outside of a few years in LA). I love the beach so I would definitely suggest a nice walk along the shore in Cardiff or Encinitas. The SRF Botanical Gardens in Encinitas are also pretty awesome! I currently live in Rancho Bernardo and have found some great hiking trails near me including Lake Hodges and the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve. My favorite place downtown to walk around and browse is Seaport Village (can you tell I like water??). I also love thrift store shopping in Hillcrest along 5th Ave. For local dining, I love Roxy Restaurant in Encinitas, Posiedon Restaurant in Del Mar, and Ortega’s Mexican Bistro in Hillcrest. I’m a little bit addicted to coffee and my favorite local spots are Lestat’s in University Heights, and Better Buzz!
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?
I’d love to give a shout out to my Mom and Dad for instilling a love of music into me from a young age. Being the daughter of 2 musicians definitely pointed my interest in that direction! I’d also like to give a shoutout to Randy Prior as he gave my the opportunity to sing for 2 Seasons with his caroling company, Mixed Company, as it reignited my love for singing Christmas music and introduced me to what it’s like to be busy as heck in November and December adding to people’s special Holiday experiences. Finally, I’d like to shoutout to all the booking agents and clients that took a chance on us those first couple Seasons as we got off the ground…and, of course, my singers…who are all talented performers AND some of the loveliest people too 🙂
David Rumley, Kürt Norby, Tia May