This week in our Love Local interview series, we're talking hot yoga with some whip smart ladies from Moksha Yoga Cambridge. Grab a tea and protect 10 minutes to get knee deep in some serious inspiration!

Moksha YogaThe sunny and sweaty space at 20 Ainslie Street, Moksha Yoga Cambridge, has been a go-to destination for Cambridge folks of all walks of life looking for “A Calm Mind, Fit Body, and an Inspired Life.” This week, I sat down with two of MYC’s three gorgeous owners (Christine Grant and Emily Dwornikiewicz) of Moksha Yoga Cambridge to pick their brains and learn a little something about building a mission-driven business. 

Start with Why

After ordering some delicious coffee from Monigram Coffee Roasters, I dove right in to the deep end and asked: with all the choices for a yoga studio in this city, what makes Moksha Yoga Cambridge (MYC) different? Emily jumped right in there with me, referencing business guru Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk, Start with Why. “We always start with why: and we always bring it back to building community,” Emily said. “We want MYC to be a space for people to come, feel comfortable, and just be- so they can find their own why, and to feel supported in whatever they choose.” Christine echoed similar thoughts, adding that for her it’s also about connection. “Everyone comes for different reasons: mental health, physical rehabilitation, or maybe even just for some alone time. Whatever the reason, people can come together not only to be with themselves but to share the space. No one is more than, or less than: we’re all equals.”

Building a Brand Worth Talking About

MYC’s mission is consistently landing with their customers: search them out, and you’ll see a 5-star rating with clients talking about the “judgement free” environment, and a staff that make “everyone feel at home.” So how do they mobilize their clients to make the business worth talking about? “Honestly, it happens naturally. When people start to see the transformation in their own life, they feel inspired to share,” said Emily. “From the front desk staff to the instructors to the students: everyone knows this is their business, too. And they take ownership of that… share the responsibility.” So how has MYC  managed to create such a strong and consistent brand between the three owners, and to maintain it across all their employees and students, I asked? “We don’t impose our ideas of what it should look like,” said Emily. “There’s no ‘have to do it this way,’ but it’s more a process of evolution.” Christine reiterated the importance of always bringing it back to community, adding that “we let them tell us what they need, and we make decisions for the future of the studio to reflect what they’re asking for.”

Franchising: Pretty Un--fly for a Yogi?

A couple of years ago, Moksha/Modo Yoga became a franchise, uniting the now 80 + international Moksha/Modo studios under one shared identity. I asked Emily and Christine if they found this limiting, or difficult in terms of cultivating a unique brand specific to the needs of the Cambridge community. Emily spoke candidly about the word franchise being a hard one for the yoga world to latch on to, but added that with the right intention, that image could easily be transformed. “There’s very little structure and expectations in how we have to operate,” Christine explained. “We’re given these pillars, these seven founding principles, to guide the business. All of us are free to do what we want within those: to identify our market, and what our community needs.” Emily talked about some of the benefits, too. “It’s like a community within a community, of all these other business owners that act like business partners to share the work. We all look to each other and can say, oh I like that, or I think this will work for us.” Christine added, “there’s no need to recreate the wheel: it’s more just, how can we adjust it for what we need?”

Marketing: Another Dirty Word

Moksha Yoga PillarsMuch like “franchise,” I asked if the word “marketing” was a hard word for yogis too. “At the end of the day, we are a business, and our goal is to reach as many people as possible. But our motivation is that we want people to reap the benefits of this space, and this community, and to have access to this thing that can transform their life.” “Right,” Emily added: “and it shouldn’t feel bad, as long as its authentic.” 
PRO TIP: If you want a social media maven to swoon over, check out MYC’s Facebook page!

Taking Community to the Streets

Building community externally, and strengthening ties within downtown Galt especially, is an obvious passion for MYC. Why do you think it’s important to support local, I asked? “I think you see the good it does, and the relationships it supports,” Christine said. “From buying a smoothie at Nature’s Vibe, or a coffee at Monigram, we’re always asking how we can help support a stronger community. Because it helps support the community [within MYC], too.”

Talking (and Redefining) Success and Failure

When asked what they thought was their biggest success, Emily talked about the money raised in Moksha/Modo International’s Grow Your Yoga fundraiser, which raised over $159,000 for David Suzuki this year. David Suzuki himself even personally recognized the campaign. “It’s a real testament to this big impact we have on the world,” Emily said. The question of failure, of course is a more difficult one to answer. “Failure doesn’t actually exist for us,” said Christine. “Sometimes we have to look at the variables of something and this, what can we change, how would we do it different next time. And most importantly, what did work.”

Wise Last Words of Advice for Small Business Owners

Trust me, there was a LOT of valuable advice I left out, and moments of inspiration. But these words are actually the best part, so if your posture has gone slack and your attention is waning, listen up.

How do you stay inspired when things get overwhelming, I asked? “Get outside!” Christine said emphatically. “Give yourself permission to step away so you’re not tied to the phone or your email. It’s like a relationship: sometimes you need to take some space from each other to clear your minds so you have room for new ideas.”

Keep a weekly meeting. Make it routine, Emily said: so you have accountability between your partners. “That meeting allows us to keep the business a priority in the midst of actually dealing with the day-to-day tasks”. Emily added that the weekly meetings ensure that there’s protected time to focus on the business, so that business isn’t happening all the time and leading to potential burnout. “And work smarter, not harder,” she said.

Any last words, I asked? “Don’t forget to look up,” Christine said. “From the paperwork, from the budgets, and actually see the people coming in the doors, who you’re helping. Don’t get stuck in the forest, and forget to see all those beautiful trees.”

To get in on all the sweaty goodness these smarty pants are serving up, check them out!

Love Local is an 8-week interview series featured on The Marketing Multi-tool blog. Each week, we’re serving up a dose of sage advice from a local company or charity that’s not only bad ass in their marketing, but helping to put Cambridge, Ontario on the map. Visit our blog for more great Love Local interviews!

Megan Lambe is the Communications Magician at The Marketing Multi-tool and (full disclosure) drinking the Kool-aid, and moonlighting as a yoga instructor at Moksha Yoga Cambridge.


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