Have you ever wondered what it is like to own your own yoga studio? In this month’s Profiles In Yoga, our series featuring yoga studio owners, we’re talking with April Clark, owner of Second Wind Eco Tours located in Swansboro, NC.
As a way to alleviate stress. It became my release valve from stressful days, 60-70 work weeks while in graduate school. Additionally, yoga became my vehicle for meditation, and helps me develop emotionally and spiritually.
What styles of yoga are you drawn to? Why?
I am a Hatha yoga instructor. I like Kundalini, Yin Yoga and my newest obsession is aerial yoga. Aerial yoga is very empowering and has been helpful in ensuring I am developing core strength, particularly as I age.
Did you have difficulty finding and staying employed as an instructor before you owned your own studio?
I became certified after I opened my studio.
What made you decide to open Second Wind Yoga? How long have you been in business?
After a 16 year career in corporate wireless sales, it was time for a change. I started practicing yoga with some regularity a couple of years prior to opening as a way to alleviate stress and unwind. Opened in June of 2010 with a business that centered on some of my passions, kayaking, the environment and yoga, doing what you love isn’t work at all!
You also offer Reflexology, Reiki, kayaking and paddle boarding. How did your interest in these begin?
Our original business model included kayaking. I have always loved the outdoors and our proximity to the water makes it a sensible choice. I am an environmentalist at heart and protection and preservation seem the right course of action with kayaking, leaving as little as a footprint as possible is appealing to me. Kayaking gives us a different perspective, slows us down to enjoy our surroundings almost meditative like yoga. As the SUP market grew so did the desire for SUP yoga. Having fully credentialed yoga instructors who can SUP gave us an edge on this emerging watersport. Activities like massage, reflexology and reiki are part of the wellness spectrum and also fit nicely with our business model.
Do you find that there is a large market in your area for yoga and the other services Second Wind offers?
The market is wide open. Demonstrating the value of yoga to different demographics is our opportunity, whether you need yoga for stress relief or want to remain physical as we age, yoga can help. People in this area are becoming more aware of the benefits and the market is maturing/warming to idea of exploring yoga as practice to better health, both physically and mentally.
Since opening, what have been the best (or unexpectedly good) parts of owning your own studio?
The community that is created, the people that come to work, practice, to heal and to be healed is a gift. To work in a vocation that has higher purpose, through seva (service) makes it most rewarding. Wonderful partnerships.
How about the most challenging?
As a business owner and operator having enough time and energy to complete all responsibilities that are associated with owning a small business can be a challenge. The key to overcoming this is to have great partners, instructors and people that you work with to accomplish the multitude of tasks necessary to keep the doors open. Having people that CARE is important, care about the work, the clients, the space and themselves, it makes the difference every time.
If you could go back to when Second Wind opened and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be?
The lessons I have learned from the mistakes or missteps I have made have been valuable learning experiences. They are necessary, to motivate me, to grow, change, adjust the sails and continuously evolve. If anything…in order to make enough money from yoga to pay the rent you need a decent size space.
As an owner, what kind of human resource issues have you faced?
The nomadic lifestyle and quality of some yoga instructors can be a challenge as it relates to building a client following. Students cleave to a teacher… in India they are known as devotees to a teacher or guru. When a teacher leaves (especially unexpectedly) it creates a void and sense of loss for those that studied/practiced with the teacher. A sacred trust has been breached.
How difficult is it to market yourself as a yoga instructor? As a yoga business?
As a non-traditional business we have our challenges, but if we participate in business centric activities, i.e. Chamber membership, events, sponsorship opportunities and the like we can promote our brand and our services. Word of mouth for our business is the best source of advertisement for us. As the community at large becomes more conscious of their own health and wellness, they begin to seek out business like mine.
Any tips for other yoga instructors looking to build a client base?
Stay committed to the work. Treat your time/space as sacred, show up and suit up. Educate, communicate and celebrate with your clients. Teach them and then leave them in their glory.
To learn more about Second Wind visit their website.