NEWPORT BEACH — There's no mistaking the aura of a small business about to open its doors for the first time.
Not yet dulled by writing, the tips of the pencils are still sharp. A pile of freshly printed business cards sits strategically placed.
The shelves are artistically stocked, price tags clearly displayed, no corners left unclean.
It's the calm showcase — one well-planned, the final product of untold work hours — before the customer/client storm most owners hope to get. But beyond the spick-and-span exterior, there's a more interesting story.
Dr. Miluna Fausch is starting to witness her vision come to life since opening her new venture: the Voice Healer Vocal Studio.
What the Voice Healer offers is multifold: voice lessons, vocal health products, protocol for singers and actors, nutrition and wellness coaching.
There even are classes planned about branding, industry networking tips and marketing.
I visited her small Newport Beach studio one morning last month. It was the week before her grand opening party and, like most every new small-business story I've written, one visit helped me understand the innovation, sweat and sacrifice that goes into opening a new venture.
Dr. Miluna, as she likes to be called, has a novel and philosophical idea: within all of our voices, there is magic. She wants to help us find it.
"I believe in the power of the voice and music," she says. "It's such a force for healing, and a lot of people haven't found their voice."
What that magic is would be hard to say — everyone's is likely different — but it would seem the good doctor has the credentials to uncover it and more.
'Fire of a musician'
Dr. Miluna's own story starts with a small-town upbringing in Hope, Ind., population 2,300. While growing up in the Midwestern hamlet about an hour south of Indianapolis, she always knew she could sing.
Powered by some of the family musical genes, she started piano lessons at age 7. Into her late teens, she held onto dreams of being a famous singer. Maybe another Barbra Streisand.
One of her music teachers sensed her talents, suggesting she teach music too.
"At the time I thought that was ridiculous!" she says. She laughs at the thought now, some 20 years of teaching experience later.
Miluna's music continued while studying at Indiana State University. A German opera coach there wanted her to go into the opera world — surely the most difficult and demanding of all singing genres — but its intensity was too much.
"It scared me silly," she says. "I thought there was no way I could do it with the vocal demands, the languages you have to learn, the travel … I found it so confining."
Miluna eventually graduated with a bachelor's in music business and finished her coursework with some "get out in the real world" internship experience: a six-month gig selling pianos.
Not liking the high-pressure piano sales pitch routine, she then went out and did jobs elsewhere in the business world. Though she still kept those musical genes at work by acting, doing musical theater and studying voice.
"At the time, I didn't know how to approach my career," she says. "Artists are wired a little different. I don't think you can get away from it."
That said, she did know the corporate scene would never be her calling. And she knew it deep inside, that she wasn't "done with the arts."
"If you have the heart and fire of a musician … I don't think you can give it up without a price," she says. "If we've got that burning passion and we don't honor it, there is a shutdown. There is a creative shutdown."
Never capitulating, Miluna found work around the Eastern Seaboard. Acting, cabaret, blues, jazz were some of her calling cards
But after moving her talents to Los Angeles, her life took an unexpected twist. Today, she calls it her "wake-up call."
'A shocking chasm'
Doctors found a benign bone tumor in Miluna's head. Known as chondroblastoma, it worsened the hearing in one of her ears. Her face felt paralyzed. The right side of it drooped.
She couldn't eat well, couldn't chew.
There were equilibrium issues. Double vision.
Fortunately, renowned ear and head surgeons in Los Angeles removed the tumor, and through that ordeal, Miluna discovered what would become another of her life's pursuits: holistic and alternative medicine.
"What I found was is there is such a shocking chasm between traditional medicine and holistic and spiritual," she says. "It was just like nothing was addressed. My nutrition was not addressed, my emotional health, spiritual health — nothing."
She started training in medical intuition, holistic medicine and psychology, eventually obtaining a Ph.D. from the American Institute of Holistic Health and Wellness. The school also certified her as an HHCP: a holistic health counselor & practitioner.
'Care for the vocalists'
Miluna, who lives in San Clemente, chose Newport Beach as the stage that combines her old wellness center in San Juan Capistrano and music lessons in Dana Point.
Located in The Hangars business complex on Birch Street — aptly named for its proximity to John Wayne Airport — Miluna's space used to be a photography studio. Now it's a studio of the singing kind, complete with microphone, keyboard and stage.
Hers is a cozy spot, the walls artistically displaying Miluna's degrees, accolades, musical influences (namely Ella Fitzgerald) and little sayings: "Life is to dance to the music within you." "Artists are magic people for we create something out of nothing."
She sees her store as filling the vocal void.
"What's the one thing you never see in a music store? Care for the vocalists," she says. "We're always left out … you can't replace the voice, unlike guitar strings or a keyboard."
That's why she offers some "vocal vitamins," a "throat saver" spray that clears mucus, a sinus cleansing product and the ultimate "vocal rescue." It's an intense, rejuvenating invention used when you've "just got to go on" with the show.
'Tap into that emotion'
What about that magic in a voice? Clearly it's not for sale on the shelves.
Miluna told me about a student's quest to find hers. She's a 17-year-old girl with ADD. She wants to be a pop singer, but needs work on her stage poise, on "opening up" with the audience.
"She's not willing to tap into that emotion," Miluna says. "If there's anything we must do as a singer-actor, we've got to accent that emotion. We've got to be able to be vulnerable onstage. That's the hardest thing we do."
But the teen is afraid of showing too much emotion onstage, to the point that she feels she wouldn't be able to stop crying.
So Miluna told a story about when her own dad died. She was only 7. While singing in her hometown church, emotion of the bereaving moment overcame her. She started crying.
Everyone knew her father in that small-town corner of Indiana. The loss of one was a loss to many.
Yet crying helped Miluna start "opening up the audience" — showing vulnerability to make onstage magic.
Miluna says her student needs to do that somehow too, so they've created a "vocal freedom day" to do the trick, to put the wall down.
"The magic will come out," she says, "but not until she allows that 100 percent access."
BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at email@example.com.
Vocal Healer Vocal Studio
Address: 4120 Birch St., Suite 113, Newport Beach
Call: (949) 488-0844