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Management meets Jessi Frey

In celebration of World Music Day, we speak to 2012 MBA graduate, Jessi Frey, about juggling running a business with being a charting musician.

A headshot of Jessi smiling at the camera
Jessi Frey, MBA class of 2012

I’ve loved music my whole life and always wanted to be a pop star. Growing up in Finland, I attended music school where my passion grew.

When I moved to England for university, girl bands like the Spice Girls were a big thing. Because of this, so many new groups were forming, and I decided to audition for some. This experience made me realise I wasn’t a girl band girl. I wanted to be in a rock group, so I decided to form one.

I bought a synth, started writing songs and got together with my brother, who helped me produce them. Eventually, we started our five-member band, Velcra and I went back to Finland to promote our music. It turned out people loved it, and we got signed to Virgin Records.

'I wasn’t a girl band girl. I wanted to be in a rock group.'

We released three albums, all of which entered the Finnish music chart. Even though Velcra were so successful, it just felt like we were doing our own thing, since we were touring a lot. But it’s always been weird getting stopped in the street.

Making music is quite personal, when I write songs I do it for myself to get things off my chest. It is so rewarding when other people resonate with it.

After almost ten years, Velcra disbanded. The lifestyle had been full-on and I wanted something different. So, I moved back to England, got a job, and looked for a new challenge. A colleague (now my husband), Matthew, had done the MBA at Bath and recommended it. I loved the fact it had an entrepreneurial emphasis and rushed my application in, which was accepted.

'Ambition is to always strive to improve yourself.'

The MBA taught me to broaden my view. I learnt a lot of new things that helped me to generate new ideas and try new things. I graduated in 2012 and in 2015, I started my consultancy, Frey Enterprises where I coach start-ups and scale-ups. After Velcra, it was nice to have time to focus on myself and start a family.

Eventually, songs just started coming to me. I decided to write a few, then a few more, and before I knew it, I had an album. I’ve been self-releasing ever since. I find it liberating.

I consult alongside making music. I’m a businesswoman three to four days a week and spend the rest of my time writing songs or with my family. It is a stressful lifestyle when you rely on your art, and it impacts how you make it, too.

To me, ambition is to always strive to improve yourself. It is to always try to do better and not get stuck in your old ways. My time at Bath taught me you don’t have to be one thing; you can be lots of things. I don’t work just because I have to, I work because it makes me a better person.

I have wonderful fans who support me, and I enjoy doing the whole music-making process myself. It means I can do what I want. My latest album was released in 2022, so I think it’s time to write again!

The Bath MBA