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Westport Now

Westport NowIn Westport Now · May 26, 2004

Westport’s Erica Feidner: She has the Ivory Touch

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Erica Feidner performs in March at Long Lots Elementary School. Long Lots Elementary School photo

Move over Martha Stewart and Ann Fudge and make room for Erica Feidner—Westport’s latest female business executive on the cover of a national magazine.

Feidner, the top salesperson for Steinway and Sons pianos in New York City, is the cover story in June’s Inc. Magazine.

A profile accompanies her photograph and highlights her success as a salesperson, musician and burgeoning inspirational speaker.

“The whole thing came together in a magical way,” Feidner told the Bennington (Vt.) Banner in explaining how she came to be the cover story.

Feidner grew up in Bennington and every Saturday attended Juilliard’s pre-college division in New York.

But certain twists in her life, well-documented in an eight-page New Yorker article in 2001 by author James B. Stewart, made her decide to attend business school in New York City, the report said.

She ended up at Steinway in 1992 and slowly made her way back to performing on the piano, for clients and for herself.

Feidner and Stewart have kept in touch since the article was published, she said. Stewart purchased a Steinway piano from her during the time of the article, and since then, he has put on a yearly recital at Steinway’s recital series with Feidner’s help.

At a reception for Stewart’s most recent recital, Feidner was having wine and cheese and got talking to a woman who worked for Inc. Magazine. Feidner clicked with the woman instantly.

“Within 30 seconds we were laughing hysterically,” she said, and the meeting eventually led to the cover story.

The newspaper said the magazine article is one of many new aspects of Feidner’s life that signify big changes are in the works.

“For 38 years, everything was golden. Then for a year, everything collapsed,” said Feidner, who is about to turn 40.

The last year has been hard, she said. She suffered from a slipped disc in her neck that left her on bed-rest for two months, she moved from New York City to Westport, and she divorced her husband, although it was an amicable separation, she said.

“My body was saying you have to slow down,” said Feidner.

She had been working at Steinway 60 to 70 hours a week, where she met with clients by appointment and worked with them as a “matchmaker,” like the New Yorker article says, to find their perfect Steinway.

Feidner now spends 30 to 50 hours in the office at Steinway, but still expects to sell about $3.5 million worth of pianos in 2004, according to the Inc. Magazine profile.