The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Account Executive & Director of Latin America Sales/A&R/Marketing for DR Handmade Strings, Rosa Daza

rosadazaThrough her talents as an account executive and director of Latin America sales, A&R and marketing for DR Handmade Strings, industry pro Rosa Daza represents one of the world’s most legendary guitar string manufacturers.

DR is a company with deep roots in the music industry. In 1952, Alfred Dronge founded the Guild Guitar Company, and in 1960 was joined by his son Mark. Mark later founded DR Handmade Strings, and today, is still passionate about creating quality products for guitarists worldwide.

In 1991, Dronge hired Daza to fill an entry position –– and over two decades later, she remains vital to the company’s everyday affairs. Although DR is huge in the guitar string world, its employees remain humble. “When you come and visit DR, you’ll feel like you are at home,” Daza says.

Below, we chat with the wonderful Rosa Daza to discuss her career at DR and beyond! You can out more from DR Handmade Strings at www.drstrings.com.

WiMN: How did you get started working in the music/audio industry?

RD: When I was a little girl, working in the music industry was on my lifetime to-do list. And so one day I came across a very small black and white newspaper ad. I remember holding the newspaper saying, “this could very well be the music company to work for.”

At first, I was a little intimated to call for the salesperson position because I had a feeling that I might be the only girl working at the company. Then I told myself to just be fearless and go for it. Like the Nike commercials say –– “Just do it!” I sure didn’t want to miss the opportunity. So, I made the call and within a couple of days I met with Mark Dronge, president of DR Handmade Strings.

We got along very well during the job interview, and on that day he hired me on the spot. Mark has been a great boss to work for ever since then. And now after a couple of decades you could definitely consider us as family. But of course we have our days just like any other family :). When you come and visit DR, you’ll feel like you are at home –– we are definitely a family-oriented company.

By the way, I was one of two females working there at the time. It was Georgina Catarcio, the bookkeeper and myself. Georgina was an amazing lady with a tough and sweet attitude. No one messed with her, lol. I’m blessed to have met her because she taught me how to do accounting while I was selling DR products. I believe you should always learn everything about how a company is run, including learning each department as much as possible.

WiMN: What have been some of your favorite moments working with DR Strings?

RD: Wow, there are so many :). Just about every day is a favorite moment. Being a part of this company and traveling, going to trade shows, concerts and meeting artists that I grew up listening to are all favorite moments. I’m blessed to have met so many amazing people in this industry. 

Years back, I met my favorite artist since childhood… Prince. He’s amazing, extremely talented and innovative. The most recent memorable moment was back in April ’14 –– meeting the legendary Johnny Winter. He was so amazingly sweet.

WiMN: Tell us about some of the current or most favorite projects you are working on at DR.

I have to say one of my most favorite projects at DR has been the release of the K3 Neon Super Strings. What an awesome invention by our factory manager, Thomas Klukosky. When he first showed us how the strings glowed under a black light, I was blown away. The strings completely change the stage look, and produce amazing video footage and photos of the guitarists and bassists that use them. I never knew Neon strings would ever exist in my lifetime. It’s completely amazing. Tom is like Albert Einstein on strings, lol.

There are some that would call these strings a gimmick, but they actually do sound amazing and look incredible under a black light or any type of lighting. Today, when you see a musician playing on stage with Neon strings, you know they’re from DR Handmade Strings.

The most recent DR project we released is the Neon MultiColor strings which match the Rocksmith game by Ubisoft. These strings are great for any beginning guitar or bass player. Dan Miller has given the best review:

“Not only do kids love the bright colors, but the colors make teaching easier. Now instead of telling students to ‘play the 3rd string’ or ‘play the G string’ –– which more times than not is met with a either a blank stare or a long pause while the student tries to figure out what string you are talking about –– the instructor can now simply say ‘play the orange string’ and the student goes right to it. Many teachers are also using these multi-color sets on their own guitars in the teaching studio so that their students can easily see what string the teacher is playing.”

Following the MultiColor Strings, we released the DR Neon USA Flag sets, where 10% of the proceeds go to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. You can visit them at www.specialops.org

WiMN: Do you play an instrument?

RD: Yes. It all started because of my beautiful and amazing mother. She played the acoustic guitar around the house when she had a little down time. One Christmas day, she surprised my brother with a drum set, and she gave me a keyboard. We use to play in the living room all the time. Unfortunately, we lost our mother due to breast cancer at a young age. My brother and I still continued to play. I always found comfort with music. Music is one of the greatest therapies and a source of serenity for me. And my mother simply loved music.

A couple of years later my brother bought a beautiful white Charvel/Jackson. I was watching him play the guitar all the time and was getting attached to the sound of it. So my brother surprised me with my first electric guitar. It was all black with a white pickguard. The rest is history. I found out later on when I went to visit my family in Colombia that my grandmother loved playing flamenco style acoustic guitar. She was pretty good, and I saw why my mother wanted to play the guitar.

Later in my teenage years, I went a little crazy buying Flying V’s, a Marshall JCM 800, and a bunch of equipment. I was thinking to myself at the time that I would be the next Joan Jett or Lita Ford. Then I started getting into other music like Madonna and Prince, and I thought the same thing again, lol. We can all imagine, and that’s the beauty of dreams.

I never played in front of tens of thousands of people, but I did experience many times over how it feels to be on stage in front of thousands. It was amazing when I first stepped foot on stage. It was such an incredible energy and it felt so good.

In my second year of working at DR, I was getting really interested in learning to play the bass. There was something so cool about it. The majority of my clients endorsing DR’s and my friends around the globe are all bass players. I have to thank all the bass players for teaching me about this amazing instrument. It’s always a pleasure seeing some of the greatest players, like Marcus Miller, Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke, Verdine White, Larry Graham, Victor Wooten, Jonas Hellborg and so many amazing musicians around the world.

WiMN: Who are some of your heroes or inspirations in the industry – musicians or otherwise?

RD: My mother, she’s my first hero. She is the main reason I’m extremely involved with music. Some of her major influences that I follow are Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and Donna Summer. She definitely had a list of musicians she loved, but these three artists were her favorite. We had quite an assortment of music going on in out house. My dad would be blasting Santana, Edgar Winter, Chicago and Stevie Wonder and my brother would be blasting Iron Maiden, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, and Led Zeppelin.

WiMN: What is some advice you’d offer to a young woman pursuing a career in the industry?

RD: No matter if it’s the MI business or any others, you will encounter some bumps in the road. Life has its curves for us –– that’s what makes it wonderful and a learning experience. You need to be very strong within, and feel blessed to wake up each and every day. Be thankful to see the day, no matter if it’s rainy or sunny.

Have a positive attitude, stay healthy and be ready to face any obstacles that may come your way. Keep improving yourself and never give up. There is no expiration date on what you want to pursue. Just go for it. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work this time around, but it doesn’t stop there –– you pick yourself up again so you can go back to the drawing board and create another plan. Go out there and do it again. Don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes… it’s a way to make yourself even better for the next time around. If someone says to you, “it can’t be done” or “it’s impossible” or “you can’t do it” –– don’t allow these people to take your dream, your beauty and sweetness away.

Be happy, fearless and love yourself. There’s nothing wrong in being different than other people. You have to take chances in life. Remember that our time is limited here in this beautiful and mysterious place called Earth. Everything will come together if you stay positive and be your beautiful self.

“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” —Coco Chanel

WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?

RD: Yes. In the beginning there were many challenges because not many ladies were working in the music industry that I personally encountered. I always believed that one day our future would be brighter for women, and that we’d be more accepted in this business. It really all starts with how you carry yourself. We must be strong, confident, smart, classy and sweet. In the past couple of years, I have seen an increase of ladies working in the music business with new female musicians on the rise, which is great. 

Here’s a very important thing to mention: I’m very thankful and blessed to have met so many nice guys that actually taught me. I want the ladies to know that there are guys who really would like to see more women succeed in our industry. Don’t be intimidated to ask questions from the guys. They would be happy to teach you, as they did for me.

WiMN: What’s in store for you and DR for the rest of 2014?

RD: As for DR, we are always brainstorming. We are aiming to have a great remainder of the year. It has been an amazing journey with DR, and to see how far we have come is amazing. As for me, I’m working on some new projects on the side to be released later in 2015. I wish I could tell you, but I can’t. So you’ll just have to stay tuned. 🙂

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