New Love City: Open House
So about a week ago, I wrote a thing on here about how my brand new baby yoga studio / co-working space New Love City was brought to life. It’s an interesting story, someone taking a chance on a venture, plus there’s renovation involved and people are just dying for that these days. Ask the folks at Scripps — it’s a thing. If it involves spackle, it’s enticing. Add some grit and personal growth, forget it. I made mention of my emotional breakdowns several times in the retelling, so I’m checking all the boxes. I used the word ‘courage’ twice. COURAGE. Just looking at that word makes me feel invincible. Just because it’s true doesn’t mean it wasn’t intentional.
Anyway, it’s a good story. Now that I’ve hooked you with the gory details, I’d like to take a second to sort through some BTs, which pretty much anyone can tell you stands for Brass Tacks. Yes, I love teaching and I fell in love with skylights and I went to Soul Cycle and blah blah etcetera; everything I wrote is real. But the number one reason that I wanted to run a studio is that, in my experience, yoga studios are run very strangely and I thought I could do it better. I’ve not done this before, so I’m basing this conjecture entirely on my spreadsheet skills, which are extraordinary, and my general successes as a human so far. This is in no way meant to insult the studios I’ve worked with, and I would like to point out that I.AM.YOU. in particular is extremely forward-thinking in its operations. But you work in yoga for five minutes after a career in Business of any kind and you will definitely notice that shit is very odd. It’s fascinating. It’s secretive and defensive to the point of self-cannibalizing. You’re in a cluttered market, you get all panicky like you need differentiators and trade secrets — I get it. I just don’t think it’s helping anything. So!
In an effort to keep myself honest and as a nod to the bold disclosure that my husband has pioneered in the world of organizational design, I thought I’d give you a peek under the hood at how this thing is running. Spoiler alert, we are being generous to describe it as such, but it’s early still, so give me a break. And if I go down in flames, we’ll have this documentation as to exactly why and you can be all the wiser for next time. You’re welcome in advance.
Here’s the info.
We are entering week 4 of operation, following a soft launch on July 26.
Zero paid, all organic, driven by our friends, social media, fitness and social platforms (ClassPass, FitReserve, Sosh) and word of mouth. I am pretty bad at doing the sandwich board, which is a disappointment because I thought I was wittier than that. So far not. We have some killer brand design coming down the tubes and it’s not ready yet so stop asking. Soft launch, people.
We spent $58,000 on start-up costs, all-in. This includes security deposits and renovation and light bulbs and tarot cards and everything else. This does not include about $15K worth of furniture that I borrowed from my house, nor does it include a whole bunch of labor that I did myself or what a psychiatrist would have charged to listen to all of my whining (thanks again, everyone).
Pretty clear — more than 75% on creation of the space (reno, rent/security, decor, yoga supplies), which is bang-on in terms of my prioritization of environment when envisioning this thing. Makes sense. Nobody wants to hang out somewhere nasty, and working-out-type-spaces are predisposed for getting nasty. It’s all about that Aesop hand soap, you know? That ABC Carpet vibe. You get it. We were only in the space for 4 weeks prior to start of operation, which I also think is key in terms of rent paid vs income (although not always manageable, given your permitting situation and reno needs — we got lucky).
We expect our expenses to live mainly in the realms of maintaining our killer environment and handsomely compensating our killer teaching staff, just like I’ve been saying this whole time. The product has to, HAS TO be amazing or nothing, end of story. This sentiment has been echoed by every single student who has walked through our doors so far. It is my truth. Believe in your truths or go home.
It’s going okay. Somewhere between killing it and shamefully packing our bags, which is to be expected. I’m going to call this the Hopeful Zone.
What, more concrete data? Ugh.
Visits, volume, returns:
August kind of sucks in terms of fitness traffic because you guys are at the beach. I mean, fair. Regardless, we’re seeing a decent amount of people coming through the doors, especially considering our soft launch/lack of marketing efforts/generally slapped-together approach. Week one was our launch day and week two rode on a bit of residual launch excitement (read: it was mostly my friends). Week three saw a bit of a dip in traffic and week four was our strongest yet. We’re seeing a steady flow of new folks (blue blocks) in to the space thanks to our partnership with ClassPass and FitReserve, but really excited to see return visits building each week both in volume (orange blocks) and share of total visits (gray line). Obviously as a new biz we need new students, but it’s the returners that create community and community is the difference between a great studio and a DVD in your living room, or a gym where yoga is every other Thursday in that smelly room (also a million other things that I don’t have time for here, but get at me if you’d like to do a teacher training). So that gray line gets me hot and bothered, and may it continue to rise.
In real money:
Let’s be honest, this is pretty rough. We will need to pull in at least 4 times this student volume to be breaking even on monthly expenses. Most classes are still extremely small, so this is completely doable times ten so long as people keep coming in. Plus, the August effect. Any income from co-working is extra gravy. So, onward.
ClassPass is a significant force in this market. It has caught on. I don’t know how else to say this. People who are on ClassPass are not lesser students, they are normal people who would prefer to pay less for workouts because their rent is horrible. Which is to say, they are all of us. It’s also a serious discovery engine. You do you, but per my experience managing I.AM.YOU. and per the number of people I’ve seen come in here via CP so far, they are more than fine by me. The pie doesn’t lie. FitReserve is smaller but also welcome at our shores.
We’ve been written up on YogaCityNYC twice, on Best In Class and on Well / Aware both before and after our opening. Sosh did a push for us in their newsletter last week, bless them. Our Yelp reviews make me want to sob happy tears, and if you catch me at the right time, I just might. I have no data as to what any of our press has brought in.
In sum, we are hemorrhaging money at a tremendous rate, which is entirely in line with expectations. We plan to stick to our truths, believe in our product and our partners and continue to keep our situation transparent. We are doing our best and we are psyched out of our minds at the outcome thus far.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. If you want to work for me, same.
If you’d like to take class in the most beautiful studio you’ve ever seen in your life with the best teachers you’ve ever met, please visit our website.