I met Jenn absolutely years ago now when I used to work in a building on Square Victoria and I was new in town. Her studio, Luna Yoga, was the first place I ever took yoga, and her warm and caring attitude was a huge draw. I was so delighted when she agreed to participate in my Career Q&A. Read on to see what she has to say about running a successful yoga studio.
Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?
I actually applied to several different organizations when I was fresh out of university, but I had a degree in environmental studies, which at the time was rather new and quite broad, so I was having trouble finding a job. At the same time I was really enjoying my yoga practice, and my teacher offered to train me to teach. In exchange I was to help him open his yoga studio. I started teaching more and more, and ended up managing his studio. We had different ideas on how to run a business so eventually we went our separate ways. I wasn’t really sure what to do next, and it was my students, colleagues and friends who encouraged me to open my own studio. It took me about a year of researching, applying for grants and planning before I finally open Luna Yoga in 2003.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
I was very lucky to receive business advice from many people. My Dad was an entrepreneur so he was constantly asking me how the business was doing and focusing on the finances, which drove me crazy, but looking back on it I’m super grateful to have had his love and support (even if it was in that annoying Dad kind of way). I also had some consultations with mentors from SAJE. One of the marketing consultants told me my schedule was too confusing, and I was offering too many different styles of yoga. I wanted to cater to everyone, but he recommended I focus in on one style. It took a while, but I eventually figured out that we were an active vinyasa style studio, so we came up with the name Yoga Flo. I felt it best described what we offer, and it was pretty bilingual. Narrowing it down to what we’re good at rather than spreading ourselves thin, was great advice.
I was also very lucky to have met Kimberly Wilson at the Jivamuikti Yoga training in NY. She was attending her 10th teacher training, and had her own yoga studio in D.C. that she had opened several years before me. Her and her partner Tim Mooney have been a wealth of information and inspiration for us. One of the things that sticks out, is when Kimberly told me to hire a manager. It was only a couple of years into having my own studio. I was doing almost everything myself (accounting, web management, admin, cleaning, teaching) with a lot of help from my partner Jason, and a couple of yoga teachers. We paid ourselves just enough to get by, so we couldn’t imagine having enough to pay a manager. Kimberly’s advice was that if I didn’t hire someone else to help with the day to day running of the studio I would never be able to move forwards. She was right. Hiring someone else allowed me to focus on the growth of the business.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is you can’t do it all yourself. At first we did almost everything ourselves, but over the years I’ve realized it’s often more beneficial to have an expert take care of things. At first it was difficult to delegate, but once I had my first baby and went on maternity leave I was forced to give some things up, and that was a good thing. The studio now runs on the collaboration of many different individuals all with their own special strengths. I think I may have been scared to lose some of the control, but everything runs so much smoother with the help of others. I feel that Luna is now a real community for both the clients and the staff, and that makes me very happy.
Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?
Our Teacher Training. It was a big undertaking, but every year we offer a 250 hour training to go deeper into the yoga practice and teach people how to become yoga teachers. It took a lot of organizing and collaborating but I feel we’ve put together a really good program that I am very proud of, and we have a lot of amazing teachers now working at the studio who graduated from our training. Some have gone on to give retreats, teach at festivals, and one even created her own very successful festival in Banff!
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Is it something you are passionate about?
Are you a person with a lot of determination and commitment?
Have you done your research?
What’s the first app, website or thing you open/do in the morning?
The weather app. My family and I usually have a ‘guess the temperature’ game we play each morning. After that we like to keep the screens off until after breakfast and getting everyone off to school/daycare.
All photos were done by Michelle Little Photography as part of my branding photography offering. Interested? Contact me and we’ll work together to create something that really tells the story of your business to your audience.
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