Today we are launching a new series at the Health and Fitness Law Blog: Entrepreneur’s Spotlight. In this series, we look at successful startups and ventures in the health and fitness industry and interview the incredible entrepreneurs behind these companies to discuss how they did it and what they learned. If you have companies you would like to see interviewed or questions you would like to see posed to these industry leaders, please reach out and let us know.
Our first interview is with the trendy New York studio, Y7 Yoga. The “Y” stands for Yoga, the “7” for the seven chakras and while their classes are rooted in a vinyasa style of practice, there is a twist that makes this studio far from your traditional yoga experience: they add hip hop flair. Having been to their Flatiron location in New York and then their recent pop-up in Los Angeles, I was amazed each time by the individuality of the format. The room is dark, illuminated by small flame lit (real heat burning) candles, with no mirrors to ensure your focus is turned inward, heated to about 90 degrees with top- quality speakers playing crisp sounds of an array of current and throw back hip hop music. Although when you walk into their New York studio, you are welcomed by this message:
H&F Law Blog: What were each of you doing before Y7?
(Y7) Sarah Levey: I was working in Fashion and Mason was working in Digital Advertising.
H&F Law Blog: Y7 has set itself apart by fusing together two things that people appreciate individually but do not often see together, yoga and hip hop music – how did you develop this format?
(Y7) Sarah Levey: Mason and I both found ourselves wishing that we were getting more out of our yoga practice. Hip hop is fun and yoga should be too - it doesn’t always have to be so serious. We just took two things we love and put them together to develop a format that is engaging and different.
H&F Law Blog: When you were first launching the business, how did you approach marketing to get people to check out this new format?
Y7: Honestly we had no idea if anyone was going to be into what we were doing. We actually started Y7 as a pop-up only on the weekends and gave away all of our classes opening weekend for free. It was all word of mouth marketing in the beginning.
H&F Law Blog: What is one particular legal issue that came up unexpectedly in running the business and how did you resolve it?
Y7: One issue that was unexpected included the designation of “Landmark” buildings in New York City. Two of our three studios in New York are deemed a "landmark", which means that we can have minimal signage/renovations. Thankfully we learned of the issues in time to make sure we were in compliance and our branding definitely leads to a more minimal approach so we sort of played into that.
Growing the Y7 Business
H&F Law Blog: Y7 started as a small studio in Williamsburg but has grown to three locations around New York City – how did you know that you were ready to launch your second and third location?
Y7: We began hearing from a lot of our clients that there was a need for a location in the city and at the end of last year it became apparent that we had a client base large enough to support a second studio. We kind of just went for it and thankfully the support was incredible.
H&F Law Blog: Have you teamed up with other fitness formats and if so, how has this contributed to the success of Y7?
Y7: We haven't teamed up with any other formats yet. The collaborations we have done tend to be more music related. We do classes with The Fader where the class playlist consists of their top hits and they have been amazing so far. You get your workout in and get to discover new music at the same time, which is awesome.
H&F Law Blog: I have noted that you use email communications to ask your yogis fun questions like music artists they want to hear more of in class, etc. – how did you come up with this and have you found this type of engagement to be successful?
Y7: Email really is the most efficient way of communicating with your clients and I think it has been successful for us because we ask questions that people want to answer. How cool is it to tell your studio that you want a Rihanna class and then the next week there is one being offered.
H&F Law Blog: What are your plans for growing the business in the next 5 years? What information do you look at when making those decisions?
Y7: We would love to be able to open in different cities and continue to grow throughout New York. When looking at new locations one of the biggest things is accessibility; here in New York City it is always key to be close to subway stops. We also take into account what other businesses are around us.
H&F Law Blog: Anything new and exciting that we should be on the lookout for related to Y7?
Y7: More amazing merchandise and hopefully some expansion into new cities J
H&F Law Blog: Question of the hour – what is it like building a business as a couple?
Y7 (Sarah Levey): Haha well….it has its challenges and I would say it is one of the hardest things I have ever done. We definitely have different ways of communicating and operating, but at the end of the day we always make every decision together and have each other’s backs without fail which we feel is very important.
Well that’s a wrap! Thanks for tuning into the first post in the Entrepreneur’s Spotlight Series. For more on Y7 Yoga and to buy some of their incredible merchandise (it sells out like hot cakes), visit http://www.y7-studio.com and definitely check out a class next time you visit the Big Apple!