I personally love hot yoga and we didn't have a hot yoga studio in my local area so I wanted to include that in the name so people knew in advance that we offer hot yoga. I love the idea of creating a space that helped people feel happy and healthy.
Was it a gradual decision or lightbulb moment to start your own company?
I started to fall in love with the yoga practice personally after years of hating it (I only went in the start because my physio told me too ) . I was practicing it at a local studio not too far away from my house and one day I arrived to see that the class had been cancelled and to be honest i had the shits. I was so over the way that the studio was being run that i thought to myself (gosh how hard can it be to open a yoga school and run it professionally - nothing against that yoga studio, but it just wasn't the way I would have it) . That night at dinner I was telling my boyfriend at the time about my day and how I was frustrated with the studio and he said to me (well why don't you open your own studio, how hard can it be? ). This got my brain ticking over, 3 months later I was a yoga teacher and a yoga studio owner at Happy Hot Yoga.
How did you get your first three clients?
The day we opened i had an open day- free yoga classes for anyone that showed up along with some healthy treats and my family were all there wearing shirts helping me talk to people and get them and show them what Happy Hot Yoga was about. We offered an intro deal at the time $25 for 10 days unlimited yoga. This enables new students to come and try out as many classes as they wanted in 10 days.
The thing with yoga is - you do it once, you may get a little confronted, your mind racing as you cant help but look at what others are doing. You do it 2 times a week and you feel good after , you do it 3 or more times and you give your body a chance to really feel the benefits. I have found that so many people don't really love the first class - our intro offer encourages you to try it again and hopefully again.
How did you validate the idea?
Did you have any experience/expertise in the area? I did lots of shopping and trying other yoga studios not only in my local area but also in the country and overseas. I look at what other studios offer (what is value for money and what is not). I then chatted to some other yoga teachers and came up with my price structure (this has evolved and changed throughout the past 4 years)
Who is your target demographic?
My demographic is anyone between the age of 18 and 70. Our main clientele is women between the ages of 38-60 (but we have lots more men joining our classes these days which is awesome.
What is the most common class you run?
We run a range of classes on the timetable, our favourites are Power yoga and Yin Yoga. Power is a dynamic class that mobilises and detoxifies your body. The flow part of the class comes from the natural transition from one pose to the next where your focus will be on connecting your movement to your breath. A sweat-dripping class leaving you challenged, refreshed and fulfilled. This class is a stronger flow in the heat a great workout.
Yin Yoga - This class is like heaven on earth. Yin yoga targets the deep tissues of your body in a way unlike any other yoga practice. A Yin pose is one that is held for a long time. In return, your connective tissues are gently stretched. Your body responds by making its tissues longer and stronger.
How do you attract clients?
Facebook, instagram, local letter drops, word of mouth, brochures in cafes, website , google. After spending money on all types of advertising I still don't think you can beat word of mouth - This is why I also do my best to treat every person that walks in the door like a unique soul as you never know who they know.
What is the funniest/most strange request you have received from a client/prospective client?
Funniest thing is people doing (farts) in class, it always cracks me up and it happens to all of us at different times. We often also experience people becoming so relaxed that they start snoring in class (also always makes me laugh)
How did you fund the idea initially?
I had this great idea and went and spoke to my biggest support (my father) after some long and hard discussions we decided to become business partners and I have not looked back since. My dad is my fix it man at the studio and pops into the studio for regular classes when he is not caravanning around the country.
My father and are equal partners.
Any tips for finding first employees?
Being honest about who i am my mission and purpose in life and at the studio. Making sure to set out my expectations from the start. I also make sure I understand the employee purpose and mission, and why they want to become part of my team.
Did you run any companies prior?
Yes, I had been running an Anytime Fitness franchise for the previous 3 years ( taught me so much and still does).
What motivated you to start your own business?
I saw a need in the area and I tend to become frustrated when I see potential for a great business and no one else is doing it or if they are doing it and I feel that things could be done a little better
What were your family and friends first thoughts you creating your own your company? Initially my family were a little lost with the idea of a yoga school. “Carla, yoga schools don’t tend to make much money” - was a comment I recall getting.
My answer was, “It's not always about making money, I want to help people and trust me i can make this work”. From that moment on my family were on my team (friends and acquaintances were a little different but the type A personality/ capricorn that I am loves to prove those people wrong). It seems weird but i just knew that I could make it work, I felt it in my guts.
What motivates you when things go wrong?
I am continually indulging in books and watching and listening to other success stories - this motivates me always and i am naturally motivated. I want to do and be the best person I can be.
I understand that life is a journey and it’s the daily small steps that fill me up. It helps that I love what I do. I love teaching, I love our community and I love to help make an impact in whatever way I can.
What is the end goal?
My end goal is forever growing and evolving - I am going to have a studio that is known Australia wide for being a place where people can come and take time to nourish themselves, possibly a few studios around Australia.
I have a goal to make an impact globally- for this reason I partner with BIG1 and microloans. Every time someone takes a yoga class or makes a purchase at the studio, we share this impact by providing a loan for a woman entrepreneur in Malawi or providing a meal for a child in poverty in India.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out? I always say that if you are going into business make sure it's something that makes your heart sing, you could do it everyday without getting paid and have a purpose to make an impact to help others (i believe this helps keep you driven, focused and smiling everyday.
What is stopping you from being 3x the size you are now?
To be honest probably myself and my own limiting beliefs. I have not yet really thought about partnerships to date but always open to ideas on how to accelerate my growth.
What are you working on now?
I am on a huge mission to help as many people live a happier, healthier life.
My goals moving forward are to grow the studio and to share my message with not only my local community but also globally through my speaking engagements and my podcast (Get Happy Hour).
Would you ever sell the company?
Possibly one day in the future but that's hard to envision now as its my baby and a mother always has issues letting go, but yes one day for sure.
|Happy Hot Yoga