July 18, 2017 Community

The Starbucks family that plays together

By Steve Stolder / Starbucks Newsroom

The Stockert kids have a knack for harmony, in more ways than one.

All three live at home with their parents.

All three have jobs as Starbucks baristas.

And all three play in their all-sibling band.

The family residence in Sayville, on the south shore of Long Island, N.Y., is home base for their friendships, their coffee jobs, their music – and what Trish Stockert said is key to her family’s harmonious rapport: a nightly no-phones-allowed family dinner.

“It’s important that we eat at the table and learn what’s going on with each other’s days,” the mother of three said. Even when the kids were little, Kayla, now 19, was always the child with the most to report.

Though a hearing problem from early in life created speech problems she’s only recently overcome after years of speech therapy, Kayla enjoyed singing from the time she was a toddler. Her father, the lead vocalist and guitarist with a band that played weddings and local events in the 1970s, had a particular fondness for ’50s and early ’60s oldies, which caught the ear of his daughter. Kayla first sang in public at a hometown talent show when she was 8, wowing the crowd with a performance of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” a 1956 hit by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers.

Into her early teens, Kayla toured as a featured performer on the oldies circuit under the name Kayla Starr, performing doo-wop and early rock 'n’ roll classics in a poodle skirt alongside artists like Connie Francis, Johnny Maestro and the Five Satins who’d gained fame decades before she was born. When she was 14, she was invited to audition for the Fox music competition show “The X Factor,” an experience she recalled as “the craziest thing in my life.” She didn’t make the cut to be featured on the show, but by then she was putting aside her oldies career and writing her own material. Brandon, meanwhile, was fast developing as an instrumentalist. Matt began to feel left out musically and took up the bass guitar.

“We kind of all got together,” Kayla said. “One day I said, ‘Wait. Why don’t we all try playing a song.’”

Time for work and time for play

Now, Kayla is the lead singer of the pop band, which performs under her name – "Kayla Stockert." Brothers Matt, 22, on bass, and Brandon, 17, on guitar, back her up. The siblings practice anywhere around the house where their instruments are handy. According to their mother, the only issue they ever have is not with each other – it’s when practice goes past midnight and their father, Russ, is trying to sleep.

“When we’re rehearsing, it’s all of our opinions,” said Kayla. “We all get each other. I really love them. They know what they’re doing and they’re both so talented.”

“The type of relationships we have in our family is very unique,” Matt said. “My brother is my best friend. We’re very close and we do everything together.”

Trisha credits the flexibility of her kids’ Starbucks jobs for making them successful. She felt so strongly that she wrote to Starbucks chief executive officer Kevin Johnson expressing appreciation for how her children can “work, dedicate time to their art and finish their schooling because of Starbucks.”

Matt began working for Starbucks in nearby Bohemia out of high school. The company’s deep connection with customers had always intrigued him, according to his mother. When Brandon began looking for work, Matt helped get him hired at his store. Earlier this year, when a homesick Kayla moved back home after a semester away at college, her big brother made the case to her that Starbucks was the place for her and reached out to a store manager he knew to get her a spot at a Starbucks near the family home.

These days, the three perform periodically at local venues and festivals. Matt has enrolled in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which covers tuition for eligible partners to earn a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s top-ranked online programs. He intends to get a degree in business retail management. He admits that music isn’t a defining passion for him the way it is for Kayla and Brandon, who makes his own hip-hop-flavored music and plans to study sound production. Kayla is following Matt’s lead and intends to take courses at Arizona State University through the SCAP program.

“Doing something you love with the people you love is life changing,” Kayla said. “It’s incredible just being on stage with my brothers. I wish I worked at the same Starbucks as them.”


For more information on this story, contact Steve Stolder