Did you graduate from college?
“Yes, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University in 2012.”
When did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Was this a particular moment or idea over time?
“After graduating college I accepted a job in management at lululemon athletica. My time was spent growing people, building community relations, and working on local events and outreach. After a “green light” for position advancement and no new role to grow into, I grew weary and needed a new challenge. I began to shift my focus to my career as a yoga teacher. I accepted the challenge of growing my classes and I poured my energy into the studio. A couple months later, I was branding myself as a yoga teacher and turning my hobby into a career. I shifted my energy, my focus, my drive, and the momentum began building. The connections I gained through lululemon opened doors to people who helped me build my dream. With a branding agent, a real estate broker, and incredible insight into the fitness community I was equipped with the right tools to begin building my yoga studio.”
At what age did you have this idea? How long did it take for you to finally start up?
“At age 21 I decided that owning my own yoga studio would be the ultimate goal. Upon graduating college it was my desire to begin working on my studio; instead, I poured my heart into lululemon. When the lululemonade lost its flavor, I dove head first into studio creation. The last four months have been dedicated to growing this business. I am 24. It’s happening.”
Was it the love for yoga or the idea of starting your own business that pushed you to follow through with opening your own studio?
“It was a bit of both. I have seen so many studios start up that have SO much potential….the problem is, yoga studios begin with yoga teachers not business owners. I am inspired by those who have accomplished both.”
What has been the most difficult part of starting your own business? Have you had to face any obstacles?
There are new obstacles everyday. I had no idea how time consuming starting a business would be. Attorneys, CPA’s, Leasing Agents, Brokers, Banks, Credit Cards, it doesn’t slow down.
The most difficult part of starting carlygraceyoga, LLC was in deciding the ownership structure. I began with the intention to work with a partner. After really evaluating the finances and learning what is truly involved in creating a partnership, I realized working with a partner was not the best way to go. I had this difficult conversation with my potential partner in best interest of carlygraceyoga, LLC and had to let feelings and fear of hurting someone go. The conversation was difficult and I may have lost a friend.”
Have you had to make sacrifices in order to follow your dreams? How so?
“I have worked weekends the past two years. I teach yoga Monday through Thursday at 6am. I wake up at 5am. Sacrifices, yes.”
Where did your initial finances come from to start up your studio?
“I am working with a bank in getting a loan. In order to get a loan I have to front hard capital to show my investment. I am investing 20-40K of my own money in order to get a line of credit from the bank. Some of this money is coming straight from my savings.”
I know you are still in the “start-up” phase, but has this been a rewarding experience thus far?
“Yes very. I am learning everyday.”
Interview by Natalie Scott, SMU Student