Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shawandra Ford, Founder of BRWNSKN Yoga, located in Memphis, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Brwnskn Yoga is a holistic yoga studio that operates in underserved schools and communities. Our mission is to make sure that yoga is accessible to everyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background.
In addition to providing studio sessions, BSY has been fortunate enough to go into inner-city schools to introduce the practice of yoga and social-emotional learning to students of all ages. Most recently, we have expanded our teaching to those who are incarcerated and are seeking reform and rehabilitation.
Tell us about yourself
I am Shawandra Ford, a native Memphian and the founder and owner of Brwnskn Yoga. I am a wife, a mother, and a full-time Yogipreneur. Surprisingly to some, my background is in IT and Finance. I have 22 years of experience working for the largest school district in Tennessee.
Just like the students I teach, I also grew up in underserved communities. For me, resources were limited, and we could not afford extracurricular activities. We moved around a lot, so I never really had the opportunity to make a lot of friends, which caused me to be socially awkward. I also suffered from severe anxiety, and sometimes I still do.
In January 2010, I lost my mom to cancer. Her death was the most traumatic thing I had ever experienced. It took a long time for the images of seeing her sick to fade away from my mind. I spent a year going to grief counseling on and off, and one day I found myself in a yoga class at the gym. I fell in love with the Ashtanga practice.
It required a lot of discipline, and it was in those classes that I realized that I had no coping skills, nor did I know how to breathe to self-regulate… I mean, no one ever told me breathing was a thing. Now, several years later, I am back in that same community where I grew up, providing tools and resources to students that remind me of how I used to be, and I love it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest milestone thus far has been the Brwnskn Yoga Wellness Warrior feature on Good Morning America and seeing all my students highlighted in such a positive manner was heartwarming. I hope they cherish those moments forever and continue their practice as they become adults!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner has to be resilient. Entrepreneurship is not for the weak; it is hard! If you want to be successful, you must roll with the punches and have enough integrity not to punch back—that is being resilient. Not allowing the bad days to outweigh the good days requires resilience.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
The three most important pieces of advice I would give to anyone looking to start a business are:
- Speak it into existence.
- Do it.
- Do it, even if you are afraid.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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