This #WomenCrushWednesdays, meet Robyn: a female founder dedicated to improving the physical and mental welfare of children though yoga! Where’d she come up with such a creative idea? We’ll let her tell it:
Describe your business. What is its main goal/function?
Robyn: My company is called Pretzel Kids and you can find us at www.pretzelkids.com. We are a worldwide children’s yoga and wellness company offering kids/teen yoga classes and special events. We also offer live and online training courses to train adults how to teach kids yoga classes using the Pretzel Kids proprietary curriculum. Our online school can be found here: https://pretzelkids.teachable.com/ and you can also find our training courses all over our main brand website.
What inspired you to start your business?
Robyn: I initially started Pretzel Kids as a program under the umbrella of my former company, a yoga studio in suburban Boston called Breathe Joy Yoga. This was back in 2004 and I started getting requests for kids yoga classes yet, like most adult yoga studios, I catered my offerings to adults. Thus, Pretzel Kids was born.
As requests grew, I knew kids yoga was an untapped market with tremendous potential. I also knew how difficult it was to teach kids yoga and children in general. So, I wrote and created a curriculum to bottle the successful Pretzel Kids methodology that we had developed over the years. We began running weekend teacher training courses in 2008. In 2016, I sold Breathe Joy Yoga and at that time, Pretzel Kids was spun into a separate company.
During that year, we also rolled out our online school. The hope is that Pretzel Kids will soon become a household brand with a full line of consumer products and a new technology platform.
What are the greatest challenges of founding your own business?
Robyn: For me I would have to say the biggest challenge is learning when to let go and rely on others who can do certain things better than you. Everything costs money. We all know this. And being a startup founder is hard because there’s never enough money to do everything you’d like to do.
But, I know that you have to spend money to make money. And, I also know that Pretzel Kids can make a positive impact on kids of all ages. So, right now, in this moment, I am figuring out what to let go of and where I need to spend money in order to take Pretzel Kids to the next level.
How have your experiences as a female founder shaped you?
Robyn: It’s interesting in that I feel I have yet another challenge on top of being a female founder and that is: I run a yoga company — a kids yoga company. Just those 3 words — kids, yoga, company — are enough to make most people shrug me off.
Yoga is considered, well, “woo woo” by many. Yes, it’s now an accepted health practice but seeking funding as a yogapreneur is in a league of it’s own. Then you throw in that I’m a female founder and I feel like many do not take me seriously, even though I have been in the business world for 25 years and Pretzel Kids fills a void in a dynamic growing market!
Growing up, what were your goals in life? Did you ever imagine you’d create something like what you created?
Robyn: My goal was to be a broadcast journalist, aka Diane Sawyer. And, in my early career I was a journalist, albeit a print journalist. I worked for several large news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, Inc. Magazine, and Investor’s Business Daily (IBD).
But for many reasons, including my own health issues several years back, I came to the realization that I wanted to make a difference (don’t we all?) but writing stories for newspapers just wasn’t my be all end all. So, I pivoted. I opened my own business: a yoga studio. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would have done that. I never even did a yoga pose until that health scare. Yet, when I started practicing yoga and meditation, there was no looking back.
Yoga and meditation changed my life, for the better. I have been blessed to have helped many others find their own way back to wellness and peace. I look at Pretzel Kids as the next evolution in my career. Yoga studios are now a dime a dozen (not so when I first opened mine). Industries change and consolidate. When it’s time to move on, I move on. Now is the time for Pretzel Kids.
What’s next for your business?
Robyn: That’s the million dollar question! And I hope the million dollar answer will come in the way of our new technology platform and website, which we hope to roll out in 2019. Stay-tuned for what we hope will be game-changer in the way parents and teachers can access quality kids yoga and mindfulness. I’ll leave it there :)
What advice would you give to the next generation of women and girls looking to make an impact?
Robyn: My best advice is to not let your decisions be led by fear, as in “I’m afraid to leave my job because I earn a lot of money” or “I’m nervous to fail.” Those voices inside our heads can be awful. Whereas it’s important to be sensible and wise (as in: don’t quit your day job if you have no other way to pay the rent), sometimes you need to move outside your comfort zone.
Also, and this is a good one: not everything you do has to “change the world.” But, are you changing yourself and moving in a positive direction? These days every startup likes to attract talent by convincing employees that its product or service is changing the world. I know, I’ve worked for these companies. The honest truth is: a new financial app isn’t going to change the world. Period. It may be awesome and help you manage your finances better, but it isn’t going to rid the planet of chemical toxins. Right?
So, basically, be both a realist and a visionary — not easy to do, I know. Understand your limitations, yet continue to push the envelope and rise up. In your own way — as you change yourself — you will have a positive impact. That’s what matters.
Special thanks to Robyn Parets for sharing her story!
For more information on her business, follow Robyn on Instagram or Twitter @Pretzelkids.