Welcome to the latest installment of Entrepreneur’s Spotlight at the Health and Fitness Law Blog. In this series, we look at successful startups and ventures in the health and fitness industry and interview the hard-working entrepreneurs behind these companies to discuss how they did it and what they learned along the way. If you have a company that you would like to see interviewed, please let us know.
Today, the Spotlight is on Bare Feet Power Yoga. This exceptional yoga studio is located in the trendy West Loop of Chicago. Founded in 2012 by Robin French, this studio does an excellent job with both beginner and advanced yoga techniques. What makes Bare Feet Power Yoga different from other studios is the friendly vibe that is shared by Robin and all of the instructors. Robin and the instructors teach powerful classes, love to have fun and have built a great community of people.
A bit more background on Robin: Robin took a leap of faith and quit her corporate marketing job in 2011 to make her dream of owning a yoga studio a reality. To her, yoga is about much more than the poses routinely practiced. She believes yoga is a practice that helps us to create a deeper connection to ourselves and others, it teaches us how to live in the present moment, and it opens us up to possibility so we can discover our limitless potential. Robin has been teaching yoga since 2009 and as a former collegiate swimmer for the University of Iowa.
H&F Law Blog: Robin, this is the fourth year Bare Feet Power Yoga has been open in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. How did you originally choose this location?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: My husband gets all the credit for our stellar location, he knew the West Loop was going to be hot a few years before everyone else. I saw several spaces as I was looking for the right one and my current location was one of the last spaces that I looked at. It was a little smaller than I was hoping for, but the location was ideal and I loved the fact that nothing had ever been in that space before.
H&F Law Blog: Prior to opening Bare Feet Power Yoga, you worked in marketing. Could you tell us a little bit about how you made the transition to becoming a studio owner?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: I've always had a love for business and would often dream about owning a business of some kind, but I never knew what it was going to be until I found yoga. My first yoga teacher training was a life changing experience for me and I knew that I wanted to share the gift of yoga with others soon after. I was motivated and inspired to open a studio, but it took me a few years to get to where I wanted to be. While I planned for my new business I continued to work in the corporate world of marketing which kept me in a business mindset and helped prepare me for opening a studio in many ways. The transition from a corporate salary to a yoga teacher/small business owner salary was the biggest challenge for me, but I adapted to it quickly and never missed the money or security of the corporate world.
H&F Law Blog: How did you ultimately decide on the yoga format versus barre and other formats? Has yoga always been a part of your life?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: I never considered opening my studio with a different format because yoga is what I fell in love with and is what I have passion for. I believe movement is incredibly important for all individuals and yoga is a wonderful practice because we gain strength and flexibility while we flow. The physical practice is so good for us, but what I love most about it yoga is how it extends beyond the physical. I believe a consistent yoga practice will help us create a greater sense of self awareness, it will encourage us to be kind to ourselves and one another, and it will open our mind to possibility.
The Style and Classes
H&F Law Blog: What separates Bare Feet Power Yoga from other yoga studios in Chicago?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: Our community! We welcome everyone as they are and give our students the freedom to be themselves. We are all about love at BFPY.
H&F Law Blog: What is the most unique class your studio is offering right now?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: Acro Yoga. We are offering it as a regular class on Saturday evening at 6pm.
Legal and Business Issues
H&F Law Blog: What is a legal issue that you have faced either in opening or operating your business? How did you address the issue?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: When I first opened my studio I was the only teacher. Once I started bringing on new teachers I set them up as independent contractors. As my business grew and the yoga industry evolved I began to learn about the importance of changing my teachers from independent contracts to employees. I worked closely with my accountant to understand everything that I needed to change or offer them and I learned a lot in the process. Now all of my teachers are employees and while it costs my business more money to have them as employees I believe it was the right move and I'm so glad I made the change.
H&F Law Blog: What business issues are you still trying to solve?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: Noise complaints. Our space is on the ground floor underneath several condos. We hear our neighbors all the time and they hear us. I'm working with our management company to soundproof our space, but like all things in construction, it tends to take far more time than planned.
H&F Law Blog: What advice can you offer to other people that are thinking about leaving corporate America to start their own studio?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: Don't let the fear of failure hold you back. If you have the passion and determination then you can do anything. It may not be easy, but it is definitely worth it.
H&F Law Blog: Do you have any plans to expand Bare Feet Power Yoga to other locations in the Chicago area?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: Perhaps... I'm open to the possibility of opening another location in the future.
H&F Law Blog: What is the most important or interesting thing that our readers should know about Bare Feet Power Yoga?
Bare Feet Power Yoga: Dogs love our space! We have several neighborhood dogs that stop by our studio daily. They love our good vibes and all the sweaty people.
Thanks again to Robin French for participating in the Entrepreneur’s Spotlight. For more on Bare Feet Power Yoga, or if you want to try a class next time you are in Chicago, please visit http://barefeetpoweryoga.com/.