The Boston native came to Lafayette more than a decade ago via Teach for America with an interesting skill in her back pocket.
“I attended Indiana University and they had a violin-making program,” Burgess says.
From a musical family, she settled on the violin by her teen years. Marry her love for that instrument with a natural draw to figuring the workings of how things are made and she found herself completing the program. Fast forward years later when she finished teaching in Acadiana but wanted to stay a bit longer.
“What am I qualified to do? I was in my early 20s and I went back to what I was really trained to do and that was violin work. I started in my dining room in my house 12 years ago,” she says.
The business grew and for years she’s been building a base of clients from her Arnaudville home. In early November, she moved the business, SOLA Violins, to Downtown Lafayette and opened the doors with more than violins; she has cellos, upright basses and all the accessories and offers rentals and does repairs.
“I don’t have time to build as much.
Only one or two in a year. Building violins requires a lot of discipline and detailed work,” she says.
While she would like to get back to her beloved violin-making, she’s happy to open Downtown and enter the fray of local businesses.
“In Arnaudville, there’s a workshop behind my house on the Bayou Teche and it’s a very nice place to work in nature and out of the way.”
It was also increasingly out of the way for customers and clients.
“It’s the evolution of my business and its growth. I work a lot with the Lafayette Parish Arts Academy string students and wanted to be more accessible to customers and be a part of Downtown,” she says.
In addition to the shop, Burgess also plays in Magnolia Sisters and Bonsoir Catin. Quite simply she loves the instrument.
“I love everything about the violin,” she says. “It’s a work of art in building it and the shapes and the geometry ... and also a beautiful instrument.”