Katie and Vicky are journalists who saw a gap in the world of modern storytelling – a safe and inclusive podcast workspace.

While the medium of podcasting has grown to become a mainstay news and information source for today’s digital generation, Katie and Vicky wanted to create a platform for the stories that are overlooked and unheard.

“Most of the big podcast people now come from the usual places, but we think that most of the most interesting podcasts – most of the most compelling ones that are actually pushing the needle in creating interesting work – are actually coming from racialized people, from women, from people with disabilities,” says Vicky.

“While that’s not necessarily who our clients are, that’s who we orient our business around.”

What’s in a name?

Their vision produced Vocal Fry Studios, a podcast studio space in downtown Toronto that removes barriers for stories of the under-represented.

Like its name, which references the vocal fry register commonly associated with the “classic radio voice” that has garnered widespread controversy for the criticisms received by female adopters of the vocal effect, Vocal Fry Studios aims to provoke and resonate.

“The name I think hits who our audience is in terms of who we point a lot of our decision-making around the business at, which is that we want to talk to the people who feel excluded or undermined by the industry, and whose voices traditionally just haven’t been heard and don’t get to be a part of making decisions,” says Vicky.

Katie and Vicky launched their side business with the intention of building more than just a workspace, but a wider community of like-minded people in podcasting ready to take their passion project to the next level. So, in addition to studio bookings, Vocal Fry Studios run workshops, lunch-and-learn sessions and consultations on podcasting, scripting and editing.

Where they’ve experienced unexpected business has been in branded podcasts with the likes of The Globe and Mail and Community Foundations of Canada.

Managing business growth

With the need and demand for a platform like Vocal Fry Studios growing, Katie and Vicky needed additional support, but funding is where they came unstuck.

“We’re journalists and we’re freelancers so the capital that we have access to is really small, and also we have precarious income,” says Katie.

Katie and Vicky explored various avenues for financial support, from crowdfunding to umpteen variations of “funding for women” Google searches, until they came across Futurpreneur’s Side Hustle Program.

Designed specifically for young entrepreneurs looking to grow their side business with unsecured loans of up to $15,000, the Side Hustle Program offered the financing and bonus mentoring support Katie and Vicky needed.

Funding for their Side Hustle enabled Katie and Vicky to create an equitable internship opportunity that helped to support their business growth and community.

“Futurpreneur funding through Side Hustle has allowed us to hire our first intern for a better-than-living wage to do what we get to do but don’t have time to do,” says Katie.

As part of the Program, Katie and Vicky were hand-matched with a mentor, who they have credited as being instrumental in ensuring their continued progress and success.

Next up 

For Katie and Vicky, the Side Hustle works, not only for the flexibility, but also for the way it enables them to maintain the industry expertise they need to remain ahead of the game.

“Right now Vicky’s teaching at Ryerson and I have a contract at CBC, and I think our students and our community is better for that, especially as journalists, to stay fresh and relevant.

We are learning from what academic institutions are doing and what the national broadcasters are doing, and then we can translate that so it lowers the barrier to access,” says Katie.

With a schedule that’s constantly full and an enquiry inbox that’s showing no signs of slowing down, it’s no longer a matter of if but when Katie and Vicky decide to take the next step.

“It’s at the point where we know there is a demand for it; it’s just about whether we want to sink all our time and money into it, and once we get the space for it we’ll be ready to do that,” says Vicky.

Next month Katie and Vicky will be joining other audio storytellers at the Hot Docs Podcast Festival in Toronto before attending the Werk It Women’s Podcast Festival in New York.

Vocal Fry Studios takes studio bookings from 9am to 6pm weekdays and evenings/weekends by appointment only, collaborate on branded podcasts for clients large and small, and run workshops/lunch and learns and consultations. Find out more on vocalfrystudios.com.

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