THE INTERVIEW WITH JODY ESPINA:
HOW LONG HAS YOUR COMPANY BEEN IN BUSINESS? WHAT HAS SOME OF THE GROWTH BEEN THAT YOU SEEN?
“I have been making mouthpieces for five years. For four years we have doubled revenue each year.”
WHO ARE YOUR TARGETED CONSUMERS?
“Anyone who plays sax or clarinet; primarily professionals and students who want to step up to a professional mouthpiece. Some grade school musicians play our mouthpieces, as well as a lot of junior high students, high school students, and college students all over the world.”
WHAT PRODUCTS DO YOU OFFER THAT WOULD BE APPEALING TO YOUNG MUSICIANS?
“We have a colored mouthpiece in our Classic Mouthpiece line (a professional mouthpiece). The Classic colored mouthpieces are made from the same material as the black mouthpiece. We also offer the HR* series mouthpiece which has a warm ensemble sound for jazz and classical (in a classical setting use a hard reed and for jazz a soft reed).”
WHAT KIND OF FEEDBACK DO YOU GET? WHAT KIND OF FEEDBACK WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE? IS YOUR WEB SITE SETUP TO RECEIVE FEEDBACK?
“We receive hundreds of letters and emails ranging from “I love this mouthpiece” to long explanations about how people notice a difference in their playing since they started using their Jody Jazz mouthpiece. Our web site gets approximately 650,000 hits a month. On the Jody Jazz web site, we have 6 questions we ask our customers to recommend a mouthpiece. We like to have a lot of customer interaction; to know why certain people don’t like a certain mouthpiece, etc. Unfortunately, our web site is not setup for feedback, but anyone who wants to get a hold of us, they can just send an email to the normal address.”
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR KEY ARTISTS?
“Some our key artists include Andy Snitzer, Jeff Kashiwa, George Garzone, Ed Calle, Laura Dreyer, and many more. We require our artists to actually buy the mouthpieces and play them.”
WHAT NEW PRODUCTS CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
“In the near future, I hope to finish the Jody Jazz DV line. I am working on the soprano DV and then I will work on the bari sax DV. I also hope to develop a really great student mouthpiece that has a small tip opening and is available at a low price. I have been teaching since I graduated from Berklee and I am the director of jazz studies at Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale, NY. As a teacher, I feel I have a responsibility to the kids, because they don’t know if it’s because of a piece of bad equipment that keeps them from being able to play.”
“I also hope to develop a classical saxophone and clarinet mouthpiece – a darker model of the Jody Jazz DV mouthpiece. I already have a prototype for this mouthpiece. I also hope to design a ligature.”
“To design a new mouthpiece, I usually create 50-60, and maybe even more than 75 prototypes. The process takes about a year before I have a new product developed. To design a quality product, you have to be careful and not in a hurry.”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE YOUR MOST EFFECTIVE METHODS OF ADVERTISEMENT?
“Our most effective methods of advertisement are word of mouth and reviews. Internet forums are also really effective for getting the word out.”
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN COMPANY?
“Runyon was my mentor, and it was really his idea that I design mouthpieces. I went to Runyon’s 93rd birthday and liked one of his mouthpieces. I wanted more bottom out of the mouthpiece, so Runyon refaced it for me. This mouthpiece is my Classic model mouthpiece. I put my name on the mouthpiece to sell it. People on the internet started to talk about it, and I saw that it could be a business. So, Runyon then let me prototype the ESP mouthpiece. My inspiration was the opportunity to make mouthpieces just for myself, just the way I like them.”
“I then designed the HR* mouthpiece because a lot of people wanted a hard rubber mouthpiece. The price is low on this mouthpiece because it is nice to have a product that everyone can afford.”
“I wanted to be able to compete with Ottolink and Meyer, so I then created the Jody Jazz DV. It is the mouthpiece that I am in love with right now; I call it ‘the Ferrari’. I recently read ‘The Da Vinci Code’, and in the book they talk about the Fibonacci series of numbers which essential describe the proportion in nature. I wanted to make a mouthpiece that exemplified this. The DV has a lot of projection with a big body of sound and tone that is equal at all volumes.”
HOW LARGE IS YOUR COMPANY? ABOUT HOW MANY EMPLOYEES? WHERE ARE YOU BASED OUT OF?
“Our mouthpieces are distributed in every continent (except Antarctica). Jody Jazz has three employees in Manhattan, New York.”
WHAT ARE QUALIFICATIONS TO BE EMPLOYED? IS THERE POTENTIAL EMPLOYMENT FOR YOUNG MUSICIANS? INTERNSHIPS?
“We look for employees with a good attitude and good people skills. Right now we are looking for an assistant to our operations manager. We want employees who want to work and have the potential to learn. There is definitely potential employment and internships for young musicians.”
If you want to find out more about Jody Jazz or get in touch with Jody Jazz, you can visit their web site.