Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessica Lucey, Founder of Sun Breath Yoga, located in Fort Collins, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I help people find joy and confidence in the way they move through yoga and outdoor activities. My clients enjoy being outside and spending quality time with their friends and family. As they get older, they notice that their flexibility and balance are changing, and it's taking them longer to recover from their activities. They come to yoga to take care of their bodies and feel more relaxed. Plus, with all the busyness in their lives, going to a yoga class with me helps them with their self-care and puts some "me time" on their calendar.
Summer classes are outdoors and are focused on having fun and connecting to nature. My SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Yoga classes and Yoga Hikes are a unique way for them to share the Fort Collins and Loveland areas with friends and family who come into town. Plus, it's a fun challenge for all my regulars that helps them connect to muscled they didn't know they had and really focus… or else they might be in the water, which is fun too.
Yoga students taking Private Yoga and 8 Week Yoga Semesters work on bringing more balance into their bodies and lives. With a focus on improving and maintaining their health as they get older, classes work on releasing tight spaces while improving strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. My private yoga students especially like learning how to integrate the yoga poses (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), and meditation into their lives as a way to deal with the stress and anxiety of their week and recover faster from their workouts and outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, or running.
Tell us about yourself
I became a yoga teacher because I received so much from the practice that I wanted to transfer to others. My yoga practice was what gave me sanity, peace, and "me time" as I was going through college and working in the Navy. People on the ship were asking me to teach a class. I told them no because I wasn't a teacher and had no idea where to start. But that planted the seed that people wanted to learn about the yoga practice, and I could help them with that. That seed took root and grew into a desire to share yoga with others. So after I got out of the military, I took teacher training, grew my confidence, and began teaching.
I got started in business accidentally. I only wanted to teach SUP Yoga classes. I went to the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) for help to make sure I wasn't missing anything as I set up these classes. To my surprise, I was told I needed to make an LLC as a way to protect myself since I was taking on more risk as a teacher. Apparently, people falling off paddle boards and doing yoga on the water opens me up even more to being sued. Who would've guessed? Lol.
Now, whenever I start something new, I go all out. My first hike and camping trip was up Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the US. When I first learned how to snowboard, I took a three-day trip to Mammoth Mountain. So when I became an official LLC in 2019, my mindset shifted, and I started seeing myself as a business and went all in on the journey. What keeps me going? Other than being tenacious and ridiculously stubborn? It's the people I teach. I love hearing stories from students about how after coming to class for a couple of months, they're seeing changes in how they balance at work. They're able to do everyday household chores, like squatting down to scrub the floor, that they weren't able to do anymore. They notice how they don't snap at their kids as often if they practice.
I continue to do what I do because for that hour/hour and a half that my yoga students are on the mat with me, they're given permission not to have it all together. They can relax, make mistakes, and choose how to move their bodies in whatever way is right for them. It's ok if they don't look the same as their neighbor or if they aren't the "typical yogi" because they're given permission to be their own person. And I think we all need more spaces and places where we can practice that.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I think being in business for over three years now and making it through the pandemic is pretty big. I am most proud of the way I am able to change and adapt what I offer to better support my students and myself. What do I mean by that? In the summer, my students want to be outside and soak up all that summertime goodness. Plus, during the pandemic, indoor classes were limited. So I moved classes outdoors and merged them with the summer activities that I love. SUP Yoga, Yoga Hikes, and Yoga in the Park were born. My business became stronger and more aligned with what I wanted to do and bring to the world.
After receiving feedback from students that they liked signing up for a series of classes because they didn't have to think about whether or not they would go to class, I changed all my non-summer classes to 8 Week Yoga Semesters. Not only do they not have to think about whether or not to go to class, but they also get the consistency, accountability, and community that helps bring change and transformation. My ability to listen, observe, and act from that information is one of my strongest gifts as a yoga teacher and business owner.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Taking time off and unplugging from work. Especially now with how connected we are. It's so easy to send "just one email" on your day off, but that inevitably leads to checking in on the other emails and responding to those real quick. I find it helpful to remember that letting your mind rest from thinking about work reenergizes you for what you do: like not seeing a friend for a while and then being excited to see them when they come into town. It also expands your creativity and makes it easier to get into that state of flow.
Our businesses are like our babies, especially if you're a founder. We want to make sure they survive and thrive. And the truth of the matter is that if we don't take care of ourselves by taking rest, we're going to burn out. If you're just starting and you're a team of me, myself, and I, then there's no one around to keep things going when that burnout happens.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Remember that things take longer than you expect them to. Give yourself extra time, grace to make mistakes, and be present in the process and where you're being led. Things don't always turn out the way you think they will.
- Ask for help. Starting a business is hard. There's no shame in asking for help. Once you get the hang of one thing, there's a next-level problem and a new challenge. You don't have to do everything on your own. Having the guidance of a mentor or colleague who's done something similar can help you navigate the process. This can also be helpful in your personal life, like getting someone to take care of the kids or the dogs for a little bit.
- Find a community where you can be supported. This can be a biz bestie, a group of business friends, a business mastermind, or something else. Make sure it's with someone else who's running a business because there are some problems that people who don't have a business won't really understand. Or it might not be that interesting to them: like figuring out all the different ways to market.
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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