Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Vanessa France, Co-Owner of Zen Yoga & Wellness, located in Westminster, MA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Zen Yoga & Wellness - 2 locations in Westminster and Lancaster, Massachusetts. Zen offers 48+ classes per week, including but not limited to:
- Yoga - including Vinyasa, Yin, Kids Yoga, Gentle, Sculpt, Restorative, Yoga For All, Nidra, and Hot Yoga
- Barre - including traditional Barre, Barre Sculpt.
- Pilates - including Mat Pilates, Yogalates, and Hot Pilates.
We also host private parties, offer many Spring/Summer outdoor events and classes, and offer monthly Brew Pub Yoga and Sound Meditation. Our customers are everyone and anyone looking to be the best version of themselves - in mind, body, and spirit. We have students ranging from 3 years old to 90 years old! Zen is so much more than somewhere to exercise - we are a community full of supportive, encouraging, and caring individuals.
Tell us about yourself
After the chaos of 2020, I was struggling greatly with my mental health and found myself in a vicious cycle of alcohol addiction. In 2021, when I had newly gotten sober and was in the process of developing healthier ways of coping, yoga became a huge part of my recovery. As many know, breaking old habits and creating new ones is one HARD task. Your mind constantly reminds you that there is a quicker and easier way to relieve stress, just as it did in the past. You have to fight to focus and stay on track to rewire your brain into relying on healthier and safer ways of coping. The commitment to my yoga practice was paramount to my healing. People may think yoga is about cool-looking poses, but it is SO much more. With every class, I was finally learning how to slow down, how to breathe with intention, how to be present and mindful, and how to accept and love myself - flaws and all.
All my life, I have been running and hiding from my anxiety - drowning it out and/or ignoring it. Now, I was finally able to tune into where and why this uneasiness came from. I learned to give myself some grace and accept it. Most importantly, I realized that if I wanted to live a FULL life, I needed to commit to finding ways to work through it. I knew I wanted to share this amazing, life-changing practice of yoga with others, so I dove head first into a Yoga Teach Training program.
One year into my sobriety, I formed such a strong friendship with 2 amazing women/instructors I had met through the studio. We ended up purchasing our beloved yoga studio that the previous owner happened to be selling at the perfect time. The three of us (Rebekah Traylor, Timea Godor, and myself) have now owned and operated Zen for one year and just opened our second location last month!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Showing my 4 children that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to is my biggest accomplishment as a business owner. Two short years ago, I would never have imagined that I would be running 2 yoga studios AND tackling my generalized and social anxiety disorders and alcoholism head on with getting up in front of a room to teach and share this incredible, life-changing practice of yoga with others!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Taking a break! This may sound funny, but my partners and I are SO passionate about running this business that we sometimes forget that we need breaks and time away from the business. We have started to implement forced days off for ourselves because of this. Even though our work is something we absolutely love, balance is so important, and we have to remind ourselves of that as well.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- When looking to the future and thinking about ALL the steps you will need to take in order to accomplish a big goal, it can seem overwhelming. However, if you break everything down into smaller goals and take things step by step, anything is attainable! Just like we say in recovery, which can be applied to anything in life: one day at a time!
- Go with your gut! When making decisions, there can be so many variables and moving parts that you may find yourself frozen and overwhelmed. I have come to learn that going with your gut, with what your instinct tells you, is the way to go. Follow through and stay true to who you are.
- Partner/do business with people you can truly trust and rely on. I cannot imagine running this business alone - my partners, Rebekah and Timea, have become my bestest of friends. They are such good people down to their core. I fully trust and rely on them, and they make running this business exciting, fun, and so rewarding.
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.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.