Tom and Kate of White Clover Music talk to us about taking chances in life, business and in love, on each other and on yourself.
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Tell us about yourselves?
Kate: We’ve been together for around six and a half years and we’ve been working together, performing in weddings, for almost that entire time. We started dating while doing our Bachelor of Music at Western Sydney University. We were immediately attracted to each other but didn’t think we’d get along very well until we started working on a project together. We couldn’t help but notice how well our voices complemented each other.
Tom: We have very different taste in music. Kate is more into pop music, while my style is more classical rock and folk-acoustic – definitely on opposite ends of the spectrum. I personally believe that music is like a little window to the soul. Instead of forcing our preferences on each other, we learnt to appreciate our differences. Opening up about our music and what it meant to us helped us bond and get to know each other better.
Kate: I think our different styles is what makes us work so well as duo. We each have very different roles – my music usually gets the crowd going, while Tom creates a more mellow atmosphere. I think it’s really special that we get to be in our own element, but still do it together.
How did it all begin?
Kate: Tom was actually studying Occupational Therapy while I studied Psychology. And although I really enjoyed it, I didn’t feel like it was really where I wanted to be. So three months before I was due to graduate, I finally decided to shift to Music – it was a very hard decision at the time but a decision that I knew I had to make.
I remember my parents being a little worried about it, but they’ve always trusted me. I’ll never forget how supportive they were in the end. They told me to follow my heart, because they knew that I’d succeed in life no matter what I did. That was a very empowering moment for me.
Tom: My parents on the other hand were much more cautious. I’m the first in my family to go through university and get a degree. And I started playing the guitar quite late and started singing even later. I was actually just starting to learn new songs and new techniques when I first started my degree.
I eventually found myself spending more and more time playing music than actually studying and I stopped enjoying my degree altogether. My grades were slipping very quickly and it was getting harder for me to make myself attend lectures and go to classes because they would always get in the way of all the gigs I had worked so hard to land.
I was playing anywhere and everywhere I could, sometimes for free. That’s when I decided to put my degree on hold to pursue what I felt I was really passionate about – to me it wasn’t a really big jump, but it was a bit of a shock to my parents, as you can imagine. To them, sticking it out was the much safer option. I would have had a sure job – I could have been an Occupational Therapist straight out of university and actually start getting a solid income. I was trading all that security in and still might eventually need a “real job”.
It takes courage to do what you both did…
Kate: At the time I didn’t really look at it as being brave or courageous. I just knew what I was passionate about, and when you have that fire in you to do something you love, you go out of your way to do whatever you can to make those dreams become a reality.
Tom: I started singing at weddings by accident. I was playing twice every weekend basically at any pub that would let me. One day, someone approached me and said they’d love for me to come play at their wedding. I had never really sat down and planned out where I wanted my career to go but I was surprised at how much I actually really enjoyed it. There’s something incredibly inspiring about being around people that are in love. And the best part about it is I get to do something I love and get paid for it. It really is such an honour. It’s someone’s big day, and they’ve chosen you to share it with them. It’s an amazing feeling.
Kate: It was very natural for us to start performing together and eventually we started to offer our wedding services as a package deal. I always knew that I was going to be an entrepreneur but I also knew I was a passionate musician – I just didn’t quite know how to put those two together until then. We absolutely love what we do and we haven’t looked back since. We just made the decision to do it, and figured it out as we went.
So what do you think makes White Clover Music different?
Tom: We do everything in our power to make our couples’ wedding magical. That’s how we approach everything that we do in our business. We’re not just in the music industry, we’re in the wedding industry – it’s an industry centred around once-in-a-lifetime moments. Moments that our couples can’t ever get back. It’s our responsibility to do right by our couples. That means doing what’s best for them, always.
“…when you have that fire in you to do something you love, you go out of your way to do whatever you can to make those dreams become a reality.”
Kate: At the end of the day, we just want to make sure that our couples get to enjoy their moment with the songs that they’ve chosen to remember their day by. We do what needs to be done to achieve that.
What were some of your biggest challenges throughout your journey?
Tom: We started White Clover Music with absolutely no capital which any business owner can tell you, is a serious challenge. It took some seriously hard hustling for us to get to where we are now. Every dollar we earned we put straight back into the business. We scrutinised every single financial decision. Do we really need this? Can we really afford it? How can we negotiate some more?
We’re so lucky that we never got into any debt – though sometimes things were definitely more than just a little tight! I think what helped a lot is that people saw the potential in us and gave us a chance when we needed it the most.
Kate: We are eternally grateful to everyone who believed in us and gave us a chance when we were just starting out. Many of them have become our colleagues and mentors whom we have incredible respect and admiration for. Now, we’re fortunate enough to be able to help others back, especially to those who might need someone to take a chance on them like we did.
Has it been hard balancing your personal relationship with your work relationship?
Tom: Our personal relationship has always made our business relationship stronger. We both have very different strengths and we make sure we take full advantage of that.
Kate: Over time, we learnt how to deal with things in a way that doesn’t affect our personal relationship. Our partnership really does empower us as individuals and as a couple. And people actually like booking us because we’re in love. They can see it and feel it when they first meet with us and certainly when we’re performing. We’d like to think that it adds to the magic of their own day.
What are some lessons you’ve learnt in your journey so far?
Tom: We’re still honing our skills as performers and we’re still growing and developing as a business. We know what our true passion is, so we try to keep that in mind every time we have a decision to make.
Sometimes in business you start something thinking one thing. But you really have no idea where it’s going to take you or what it’s going to grow into. There are so many different paths and opportunities you can take. Sometimes it can become something completely different than what you first set out to do. Be flexible and enjoy the ride but don’t lose track of your vision. That’s why we always remind ourselves of what our passion is – it helps us stay on track and choose the right opportunities when they come our way.
Kate: It definitely hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. There’s a lot of failing, crying and so, so many lessons to be learnt along the way. Going into business for yourself can be a steep climb. Sometimes you just need to toughen up. I feel like I’ve grown so much as a person since we first started – it’s definitely shaped me as a person and has brought out a side of me that I may not have had the chance to explore otherwise.
What advice would you give to men and women or couples who are thinking about starting their own businesses?
Kate: There’s this quote by Howard Thurman that’s always been one of my favourites. He said, “don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” Be true to yourself every single day, because only great things can come out of it.
Tom: For couples, it’s so important trust yourself and your partner relentlessly. You’re not just two people going into business together, you’re two people who are joining every aspect of your lives. For me, it’s essential to have that trust and that passion for what you do.
And advice for couples looking for musicians for their wedding?
Kate: Find the right fit for you. Consider what you need and search until you are completely happy with what you have found.
Tom: This is your special day, don’t settle. Go for artists who you vibe with, and you feel that soulful connection with and make sure that they can create an atmosphere that’s right for you.
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For more on their music and vibe, visit www.whiteclovermusic.com.