It’s Finally Happening!

I’m SO EXCITED!!!

There is going to be a 2nd store for Yoga-urt coming to Echo Park in Los Angeles in Spring 2019!

Yes it’s true!!!

It’s been so hard not to share the news with everyone so I’m so happy I can talk about it now. This is something I’ve wanted to do since the first store opened, and it’s happening!!!!

Here is how it came to be.

I actually spent one day looking for spaces in Santa Monica back in June. I didn’t see anything that day that really worked, and then that very same day, I got an email from an agent/broker about a space in Echo Park. He said he wasn’t sure if I was looking to do a 2nd store but sharing just in case.

Although this wasn’t an area I was that familiar with or was considering, the pictures looked good so I thought I would check it out. Why not!

When I saw the space, I could immediately picture Yoga-urt there. And, it’s across the street from PETA which was incredible. But, I wasn’t 100% convinced about the area as it is very different from Kenneth Village where the current store is.

So I visited it a few times, talked to some people about it, and I’m not going to lie, I struggled with the decision as I really thought the next one was going to be on the Westside.

The day came when I had to make the decision and I just tried to clear my mind and forget about what everyone else thought and really just tried to see what my gut was telling me. And it came to me. This was it. Wasn’t what I pictured but might be even better! There has been no turning back since.

There was one big hitch though, I still needed the loan and this always takes longer than you think. I had to get 3 sets of approvals for the loan and hope the owners of the space would wait for me because the lease was contingent on getting the loan. Luckily they waited and gratefully the loan came through!!!

And we ended up signing the lease on Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish New Year, and although not planned, seemed symbolic and a good sign.

So there it is – Yoga-urt #2 is on its way!

In my last post, I hinted about this and said that I was excited, grateful, scared, and proud.

I am excited because my dream is to share Yoga-urt with as many people as possible and I can’t wait to introduce so many new people to it.

I am grateful because this is my dream. And because of the support that Yoga-urt and I have received from so many people, there is much to be grateful for.

I am scared because there is a lot of fear on this journey – always. Is it the right location? Will it do well? Etc. But I know it’s okay to have fear, as long as it doesn’t hold me back so I’m not going to let it.

And I am proud. So proud of myself. There have been so many challenges on this journey, some so big I thought I couldn’t get passed them. And to be a female founder/entrepreneur and financially do this all on my own (plus loans) is huge. I’m proud of myself for being scared and doing it anyway.

I can’t wait!!!

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Pie Slices & Popsicles

We introduced 2 new menu items this past month – pie slices & popsicles!

I’ve been wanting to offer both of these items for like a year, but we had no where to put them or display them. I had to wait until I could afford to buy a display freezer and I finally got one. Yay!!!

So for the first time, we are offering pie slices. Not only are they delicious and selling really well, but they are fun to make. Getting to experiment with different toppings & combos, my team is loving it!

And we also introduced popsicles. These are delicious too but a bit harder to make. There was a bunch of trial and error getting them out of the molding piece, but we finally figured it out. The step by step timing of everything is very important but as long as you get the timing right, they turn out great.

And both are beautiful too!

August was another really good month for us and it’s sad to know summer is fading away. It’s already getting darker earlier and I know inevitably we will slow down a bit, but hopefully not too much.

On another note, tomorrow is a very big day for me and for Yoga-urt. It is something I’m very excited, grateful, and scared about. And proud. So so so so proud of myself.

It’s almost hard to believe it and I’ll share soon, but it’s proof that when you work hard for something you believe in and you keep persisting through all of the challenges that come your way, you can bring your dreams to life.

Peanut Butter Prana & Chocolate Bliss Swirl Pie

Mint Magic Pie

Sweet Greens & Lavender Blossom Popsicles

Chocolate Bliss & Vanilla Harmony Popsicles

Birthday Cake Pie

Yoga-urt Turns 3 & More

So here I am again with another month passing between posts. This is becoming a pattern and I want to do better. There is always so much happening that’s worth sharing and I want to share.

I think it’s that on the flip side, there have been many dark moments over the last year as well (2 years really). Some have been very out in the open, and some very private, that very few people know about. All are part of this crazy journey but they really take a lot of you and unfortunately takes some joy away from all of the accomplishments.

Putting that aside, I do want to share that our 3rd anniversary celebration on July 21/22 was so much fun. Every year, I want to celebrate Yoga-urt in a big way because it deserves it – we deserve it. The work that it took to open it and to maintain it, the happiness that it brings people, the delicious Yoga-urt – all worth celebrating!

Thanks to all of you who celebrated with us – near and far. Thank you for your support for this sweet business. Thank you for being a part of this journey.

I get emotional when I think about how it started, with an idea and a lot of love – and that’s it. I am SO PROUD of how far we’ve come. I am so excited about the future. It all truly is amazing and I get emotional just typing this.

Of course I continue to make mistakes, and I only hope I can learn from them and not repeat them. I just try to do the best I can and learn as I go.

Our newest flavor, Birthday Cake, made its debut a few weeks ago. I get really nervous every time we introduce a new flavor, hoping people like it. For this one, the nerves went away in just a few hours because I knew it was a home run – so good.

So what’s next? Hoping to debut pie slices this month plus a new menu item that I can’t mention yet.

And switching topics, just yesterday, I had to make a very important decision for Yoga-urt. I can’t talk about it yet, but I can tell you that the fear thing was all over it. It reminded me how fear has been with me this entire journey – and I did it anyway. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, let fear take a backseat in the car. It’s ok that it’s there, but don’t let it drive.

I did my best to tune out the fear of making a wrong decision and tried to instead, tune inside myself for the right decision. I’ve trusted my gut so far on this journey and I’m trusting my gut on this one too. Even as I write this, the fearful thoughts creep in, but I will remind myself to trust in my decision and continue to do the best I can for Yoga-urt.

Me!

With my dad!

New shirts make their debut!

Team Dinner

July

It seems to be a pattern lately, with my blog posts getting further apart. I don’t mean for that to happen and so I will really try to do better.

My last post was all about my transition from leaving my day job. Well, guess what! They called me back. A few weeks ago, they asked me to come back and it was a tough decision for me as I know in saying yes, I won’t sacrifice Yoga-urt and I won’t sacrifice my job, and so the thing that suffers is me. I wear myself out with work, work, work.

I negotiated going back 3 days a week in hopes that I will still have time for myself and Yoga-urt. It was really nice to go back but it has taken a toll.

There is SO MUCH going on right now with Yoga-urt! We finally started nationwide shipping of the pints 2 weeks ago – more on that soon. We had a booth for 2 days at Arroyo Seco last weekend. I’m having our website updated. I’m having our nutritional info brochures updated and creating one specifically for pints. I’m getting new uniforms/shirts for the store.

And, Yoga-urt’s 3rd Anniversary is in less than 3 weeks! So much to do for that!

And so I do feel more worn down than the previous month, but hope to find some balance soon.

I can’t believe Yoga-urt’s been open 3 years already. We’ve come such a long way during these 3 years and I’m so proud of Yoga-urt and grateful to everyone for supporting us.

July is a big month for us. The anniversary. National ice cream day/Month. Warmer weather. Nationwide shipping continues.

Here we go!

Cookies & Cream

We had the debut of our first new flavor of 2018 a few weeks ago and it happened to be the most requested flavor from our customers – Cookies & Cream.

The plan was actually to have this flavor come out in February but it took much longer than planned. Why did it take so long? Well, we had a delicious version with an Oreo cookie we found in stores, but we couldn’t find a cookie that was organic, glutenfree, & soyfree in addition to vegan.

I considered making an exception to this flavor and not hitting our checklist of allergens, but it just seemed wrong. So what do we do? We decided to try to make our own cookie so we could have it all!

After a couple of tries, it still wasn’t right. I felt a bit hopeless as it never was as good as our first batch with the store cookie. But then Megan took a pass at the cookie and that was perfect. We felt the cookie would work, but we were still worried about blending it too much, the color of the yogurt, etc.

It was crunch time because I was opening that Sunday and really wanted to debut it that day. I get so nervous with new flavors and I like to be there to make sure it runs through the machine okay and to get some customer reactions.

I did a test through the machine that week and I was really happy with it. I was seeing my family later that day so I brought them some and they devoured it. My nephew considers himself a Cookies and Cream connoisseur and he LOVED it.

The test was with cookies that Megan made. But now, I had to make them to make sure I knew how, could train my team, and keep making them in the store. I also had to buy a food processor as we didn’t have one.

So I got all the ingredients, the food processor, and took a pass at the cookies. It worked!!!! Those that know me know I don’t do much cooking so it’s always a big deal for me. We also had the cream recipe so I had to try that too.

So it was full on cookie production the next few days. The original food processor I bought was horrible and made everything really difficult. It took forever. I got a much bigger and better one a few days later, but OMG, was it painful in the beginning.

So, Sunday comes and we introduce the new flavor. And boy, did people like it. Actually, not like it, they LOVED it! We went through 6 gallons the first day. Crazy!

You know what that means – more cookies! We almost sold out everyday for the entire week. I was not expecting that so more and more cookies were needed. I was basically at the store until almost closing every night making cookies. Cookies & Cream took over my life!

This was the first flavor that consistently sold more than Chocolate Bliss for its entire run. That’s NEVER happened before.

It took until that Friday for us to get ahead of the cookies, but thankfully we did before the weekend, and have since then. I’ve made so many gallons of Cookies & Cream the last few weeks to keep up with demand. The good news is I can do it super fast now.

Speaking of demand, we’ve been really busy which of course is a good thing. But until I hire another Soft Serve Maker or two (happening this week thankfully), I basically became a soft serve maker the last 2 weeks. Pretty much every night, we were running out of flavors so I would come in the evening and flavor. The base is made in the morning, but there needs to be some time before flavoring so at a certain point, it has to be evening.

I wasn’t planning on being a soft serve maker, but as an owner, you do what needs to be done.

I personally LOVE Cookies & Cream. I will miss it like everyone else, and it will definitely keep coming back.

On another note, there has been a big change in my life recently, and I will share more about that soon.

Namaste!

Transition / Change

Omg, it’s been so long since my last post. Time just flies by. There is so much going on to catch up on, I’m not sure where to begin. I think I’ll take it in pieces and start with the big transition I referred to in my last post. Then eventually cover Vegan Street Fair, Eat Drink Vegan, and more.

The big transition is that I no longer have my day job. I’m not sure if people realize that up until a few months ago, I have had a full-time job the entire time I’ve been working on Yoga-urt. I know – it’s crazy.

My project suddenly went on hold and so they had to let people go – and I was one of them.

This wasn’t just any job. I was a Senior Producer leading teams of 30-50 team members on international theme park/museum projects for an awesome company.

Juggling this demanding job with Yoga-urt has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I sacrificed my life, my health, and more and it will take me months if not years to recover.

Why did I keep this job so long? For 2 reasons.

1. It was a great job with great people. The projects were tough and clients were difficult, but I was surrounded by such amazing talent and people. I got to work with the best in the business and if my career in themed entertainment ends now, I feel so fortunate to end with these people and this company after almost 20 years in this industry.

2. Not going to lie, the money. It was my security net for Yoga-urt and got us through the first few hard years. It is a big part of my Yoga-urt story and I tear up just thinking about how grateful I am for it, as Yoga-urt might not have made it without this job.

And yes, they knew about Yoga-urt, although I had to completely separate the two while there (but I did bring some in from time to time). I had to work harder to prove myself to them because they knew I had my own thing. I had to be on my A-Game at all times.

Opening and maintaining Yoga-urt while having this job almost killed me. I don’t think anyone realizes how hard it was. I had to downplay it because I didn’t want to lose either.

My health had been so impacted that for many months my therapist, doctors, and family were all telling me to cut back – I knew I needed to too. I just couldn’t figure out how. I did go down to 4 days a week at my day job in the last few months on the job which really helped, but still very difficult.

And so here I am. For the last few months and for the foreseeable future, I get to focus on Yoga-urt and my health. It’s hard for me to believe. I don’t have to be in an office Mon-Fri. This is a HUGE change for me.

One of the questions I have been asked the most during the last few years is, so do you enjoy being your own boss? Must be great. And my response has been, I have no idea, I’m an employee 40+ hours a week.

Well, not anymore, at least for now.

I honestly feel like I can breathe again. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a full-time job with Yoga-urt, but I have more flexibility to my schedule. I can control it. And I can add in some things like maybe a social life or something fun.

So, I’m trying to find balance again. I have lots of things I want to do with Yoga-urt, and I’m working on them, but at my own pace so I can rest and have a life at the same time.

It was sad to say goodbye to my co-workers and hopefully they’ll visit me at Yoga-urt. They are a huge part of my story that I will always treasure.

Change. Transition. I’m so excited to see what this means for me and Yoga-urt. It was time!

With Phil Hettema from The Hettema Group where I worked

Yoga-urt on “Eye on L.A.”

Tonight, Yoga-urt had its TV debut on ABC’s TV Show “Eye on L.A.”.

I was so excited and nervous all day because even though I felt the taping went well, I didn’t get to see the clip so had no idea how it would come together. My goal was to represent Yoga-urt well and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

The day they came was a typical crazy day in the life of Melissa! I still have my day job as a Producer in the theme park design world and so I was in client meetings all day. I snuck out just before lunchtime to head to Yoga-urt for the shoot and then raced back to work afterwards for more client meetings.

That’s the story of the last few years for me – from theme park design to Yoga-urt and then back again. My life is absolutely crazy juggling both and bringing my A game for it all. Plus so many other challenges that no one really knows about.

But Yoga-urt has my heart and always will. Every time I’m there, someone thanks me for bringing it to life, tells me how far they drove to come, that they tell all of their friends & family about it, and it means the world to me.

This was a milestone for Yoga-urt and me. My journey bringing Yoga-urt to life has been such a roller coaster ride. But this was definitely a good moment and I’m glad I got to share it with everyone!