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How an entrepreneur builds community online

Veronika Roux-Valchova brings families together to learn and enjoy music
December 21, 2020
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By Samia Aladas, BFA 96

Art Strollers Academy Art Strollers Academy brings together students from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York and New Jersey. | Photo: Art Strollers Academy

A less-than-easy visit to an art gallery with her first child sparked a potential business idea for Veronika Roux-Vlachova, BComm 01. The former Wall Street financial analyst and residential realtor — now mom of four — realized it would be easier to take a tour in the company of other families.

“At the time I found it was hard to go to a gallery with a fussy baby,” says Roux-Vlachova. “I figured if I’m experiencing this, there are probably other moms feeling the same way.” As a result, she launched Art Strollers in 2008 to offer museum and gallery tours for parents and their babies. And to its credit, all major museums in Toronto — where Roux-Vlachova calls home — now offer stroller tours.

Art Strollers’ initial success across the city inspired Roux-Vlachova to add classical concerts to her company’s offerings. “They were very popular and parents loved it. Often, it’s the baby’s first concert,” adds Roux-Vlachova, who studied accountancy at the John Molson School of Business.

‘I saw the need’

Art Stollers’ whole season had been planned up until June 2020 — dates had been set, musicians and venues were booked and all events were sold out.  

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Roux-Vlachova, like so many entrepreneurs, had to quickly shift business online. She launched Art Strollers Academy this summer to offer operatic and classical music content for children and families.

Veronika Roux-Vlachova, BComm 01 “This has been an amazing turn in my life,” says Veronika Roux-Valchova. | Photo: Plexman Studio

“I saw how we could suddenly connect all these families online at a time when things were quite hard and with a lot of uncertainty,” says Roux-Vlachova.

With lessons in piano, violin and cello for school-aged children, and the combination of opera and yoga for parents, babies and toddlers, the online shift seemed to resonate.

“I realized I have all these artists who could conceive online programs and that’s how the academy was born,” she says. “I saw the need.” 

Roux-Vlachova’s inspiration for Art Strollers Academy came not only from her passion for classical music and opera, it came from the desire — as a non-musical parent — to introduce it to her family. 

As her children grew up she wanted them to all play an instrument, but encountered difficulty. “It took me so many years of trial and error in order to integrate music into my children’s lives and our programs can make that introduction easier,” she says. “Where to buy your instrument, how to tune it — it’s a hard process, so we’re developing a guide to help families.” 

The classes also bring people from different locations together across Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York and New Jersey.

Essential skills honed at Concordia

Roux-Vlachova credits Concordia for a rewarding student experience. “The program’s structure gave me the tools to become an accountant and financial analyst, and an entrepreneur from participation in case competitions. It prepared me for the next steps in my career.” 

As a student, she served as vice-president of communications for the John Molson Accounting Society, to which she attributes having gained lifelong soft skills. 

Roux-Vlachova continues to remain connected to her alma mater through the alumni network. “In Toronto we have a strong alumni organization. I’ve attended a lot of events and met some fascinating people, which has been an amazing help,” she says. 

While the pandemic threw Art Strollers an unexpected curveball, Roux-Vlachova’s time at Concordia provided her with the foundation to take it in stride.

“This has been an amazing turn in my life,” she says. “It has brought enormous joy to me and my children and it’s a way of sharing a passion.”



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