Diploma Programme (DP) graduate Kyla Christie is the co-founder of New Art Collective. Her efforts to create a community and opportunity for performance artists in Indonesia were recognized by the Diana Award, which supports young people making an impact in their communities. We connected with Kyla to find out more about her passions and hear her advice for students looking to build their own businesses.
“Even though we may not fit what many adults expect business owners look like, we have a strong portfolio of successes and a great team to make them think again”.
What inspired you to co-create New Art Collective?
Growing up in Indonesia, I noticed a lack of performing opportunities. I have been a singer for 15 years, and back then, aside from performing in small events, I noticed that young, passionate artists didn’t have a chance to be fully immersed in the arts industry. I built New Art Collective originally to be a place where students and other young people could perform. Since then, we have grown into a community that delves into the industry a lot deeper than just singing, dancing, and acting. We’re training young people to be self-sufficient by putting up their own shows, all the way from creating sponsorship proposals and marketing plans to set and light design of the stage.
We now offer classes, content and internship programmes for the youth on all performing arts aspects including modeling classes, social media marketing and business development.
New Art Collective’s original inspiration was just for a 15-year-old to find a stage to sing on, and now it has become a change-maker in its own industry.
How were you able to turn an idea into a fully-fleshed business?
I remember three weeks before our first show, I had my team of 100+ people quit, leaving only me, my co-founder and three other people. They quit because they thought the show was never going to happen. So, our team of five did everything possible to prove them wrong.
It was never about starting a business, we just wanted to put on a show. What we didn’t realize was that putting on a show is a business. I handled everything from ticketing, marketing and sponsorships all the way to the details of costumes and lighting design. I remember plotting out the seats on an Excel spreadsheet and coloring in the tickets people bought.
We never sat down and created a business plan or gathered a board of advisors or even had a website. What we were still able to accomplish was generating interest in using the skills we did have, like generating interest in our show on WhatsApp! What we did was start. Anyone can plan, but what set us apart was we just went for it. Now, of course after gaining a lot more experience, we do have a board of advisors, a website and teams but without that first experience, we would never have known what to do next!
What key challenges or obstacles did you have to overcome when starting up your venture?
“It was never about starting a business, we just wanted to put on a show”.
Being both in the arts world and being young means people underestimate you a lot. It’s either: “They’re young, so they won’t notice this”, or, “they’re singers, so they won’t understand this”.
We’ve had people try to take advantage of our age when discussing finances because they thought we wouldn’t understand anything about pricing.
As an example, we’ve also had vendors send in the wrong, inexperienced staff to help us. For our first show, our lighting technicians were actually sound board technicians that the lighting company sent to us because they thought we, “wouldn’t need expert technicians”, when we paid for expert technicians.
At the end of the day, what keeps us going is proving these people wrong and believing in our skills and talents. Even though we may not fit what many adults expect business owners look like, we have a strong portfolio of successes and a great team to make them think again.
What skills from your IB education have supported the work in your start-up venture and in your career?
“Use only what you know and use it to your advantage”!
A lot of IB is project-based and what that allowed me to do is have a mindset that goes beyond tests and memorization. It helped me work with other people, taught me leadership values and how to communicate my words and intentions.
It allowed me to take the context of what I was learning outside the classroom and into a professional real-world setting.
Most of all, it taught me that expression and being out of the box can reap amazing rewards!
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
There’s always something special in everyone. If there’s anybody telling you that you shouldn’t build your own empire because you’re too average or because the market is too saturated, you shouldn’t listen to them if you believe in yourself. Your journey, your perspective and your voice are unique. Use only what you know and use it to your advantage!
Kyla Christie is the co-founder of New Art Collective, a performing arts company based in Indonesia. She was born in Indonesia and currently attends university in Boston, U.S. on a full-ride scholarship. She has founded over five businesses during her 19 years of life and is still active in her non-profit initiative Sing to Build, where she helps rebuild houses and communities destroyed by natural disasters. She has recently won the Diana Award for her company’s’ work to positively impact and grow the performance arts in her communities. Kyla also coaches other performers, artists and creatives to find ways to build their passions and art into businesses.
To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!