SCORE nurtured my entrepreneurial skills during the four years of research, planning and finding funding for my business
The journey to Yoga-urt began at a simple lunch with my cousin in 2011. He was teasing me about being a yoga teacher and went off on a riff about yogurt being created before yoga. I said multiple times that he was wrong, but every time, he would come back with a silly reason why he was right -- and I was wrong. It was very funny. Forty minutes later, my cousin topped off his jokes by saying “why don’t you teach yoga and serve yogurt and call it ‘Yoga-urt’”. We laughed and then went on our merry ways.
However, I could not forget ‘Yoga-urt’. Something about it captivated me and I started to think about what a ‘Yoga-urt’ place could be. I started researching the yoga and yogurt industries online and became more excited! I knew that I had to do a business plan to figure out what this place could be. The more I learned, the more excited I became, and the more I could envision the potential of such a place. However, potential doesn’t equal money and I had none. That didn’t stop me. I did what I could and “left the rest to the Universe.”
Developing Yoga-urt took close to four years of research, building my business plan, and finding funding, although I was turned down many times, including by my family. During this time, I developed skills in business planning, budgeting, marketing, and everything related to opening up a restaurant, never giving up on my dream. I worked closely with Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Center (PCR-SBDC) and SCORE, both parts of the Small Business Administration (SBA) dedicated to helping launch small businesses, which nurtured my entrepreneurial skills, and it was ultimately PCR-SBDC that helped finance my business.
Besides having zero money, another huge obstacle was that ----- there wasn’t a soft serve product available that would be suitable for 'Yoga-urt.’ Going with the healthy/yoga theme, I knew that I needed to offer some vegan/dairy-free options that weren’t sorbets, weren’t made with soy, and that were organic and, most importantly, had to taste good.
Since I didn’t have the funds at the time to do Research & Development (R&D), I waited and went back to project management for my livelihood, pursuing my plans when I could. Luckily, last year, I was able to proceed with the R&D with a great team including Meredith Sarah Klein, a Los Angeles private chef, and yoga and mindfulness teacher, who creates internationally inspired, Ayurvedically-influenced, holistic, organic cuisine, and Jim Broussalian, an accomplished expert in menu/product innovation and R&D processes in the retail food service industry.
This team spent the last year working on delicious almond/cashew milk (dairy-free) flavors that anyone can enjoy. Originally, the plan wasn’t to be all vegan, however, we did create this delicious product and so there is no reason not to be vegan, organic, and gluten-free, as we are. Vegan or not, I guarantee that you will fall in love with our soft serve!
It was a 4-year journey to get this store open, but it was all worth it!
About Me - Melissa
I started practicing yoga in 2009 at the urging of my chiropractor. I had chronic pain and had sought relief for a few years. My chiropractor thought that yoga might help me. Not only did yoga relieve my chronic pain, but it brought me a more peaceful mind, and open heart, increased confidence and introduced me to a community of like-minded people. I fell in love with yoga and it has helped me in every aspect of my life.
I was fortunate to take a year off from my corporate job in 2011. I call that my “yoga bubble” year. I did yoga teacher training, worked at the yoga studio front desk, took workshops, and lots of classes, taught yoga, went on retreats, and just immersed myself in everything yoga. It was the best year of my life and also the year that the idea of Yoga-urt was born.
For me, Yoga-urt is about community, love, and providing nourishment not only for the body but for the soul as well. It is for people who want to live healthier lives by stopping to enjoy a healthy treat in a peaceful setting. I am looking forward to meeting each one of you, hearing about you, and sharing my little stories about Yoga-urt.
To learn more, follow my 5-year-old blog at www.journeytoyoga-urt.com.