Entrepreneur Profile: Lawrence Yoga Collective
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about yoga. Some people feel it’s just for the rich. Others think it’s for hippies or those who are super religious. To me, yoga is for everyone. I got into it when I was trying to rehabilitate from a running injury. I purposely sought out a highly physical form of yoga with none of the spiritual and meditative aspects. A few classes in, my life changed instantly when I met my first real Teacher, Rolf Gates. Rolf gave me the physical practice I craved but also brought a smart, practical spiritual side to his teaching. Yoga became my new obsession and I pretty much gave up running.
After practicing it for a few years, I slowly came to the realization that I wanted share this experience with others. I took an intensive training and then taught classes all over the Boston area. In 2007, I opened a yoga studio in Jamaica Plain and operated it with a donation-based fee schedule. It turned out to be a huge success.
When I moved to Lawrence in 2008, I was disappointed with the lack of yoga in the area. There are no regular yoga classes in Lawrence and the classes in surrounding cities aren’t affordable for many Lawrence residents. Also, Lawrence has the highest obesity rate in the state. I decided that I would start the Lawrence Yoga Collective. Like my studio in Jamaica Plain, I want this to be a donation-based fee schedule. Students will be able pay whatever they can afford for their classes.
I knew this was a good idea, but was lacking the community and connections I needed to get the idea out of my head and into the world. I heard a lot of great things about the Sandbox and decided to apply for their Accelerator Program. So far, the program has exceeded my expectations by quite a bit. I’ve been thrilled to work side by side with so many bright, energized entrepreneurs and to have the support of so many great mentors as well as the Sandbox staff.
By the end of the program in March, my goal is to have a business plan in place, acquire a permanent studio space and open the doors for business. I’m well on my way to achieving this goal as my mentors have already helped push me through several of the rough spots in my plan and continue to push me to refine the plan before I open. By year’s end, I want to have 200 students a week taking classes at the Collective.
In many ways, it would have been easier and possibly more profitable to open a yoga studio in one of the surrounding cities, but there’s a lot of great energy in Lawrence. The city is changing and I want to be a part of that process.
In the end, I want the Lawrence Yoga Collective to be more than just a studio. I want the Collective to be a place that brings together the Lawrence Community. I want it to be open and available to all, regardless of race, gender, language and income.