My “Risky” Location

After yoga tonight, I stopped by Yoga-urt and it was busy, so I stayed for about an hour to help.

One of our customers realized that I was the owner and wanted to say hi. He told me that it was very risky to open my business in this location. I agreed but asked him why he said that. He said because there are no vegan places around here. If I opened in Silverlake or Hollywood, it would be totally accepted, but this area is different. 

He said that he noticed that a lot of people who come are not vegan and some don’t even realize it is all vegan, they are just looking for frozen yogurt. He could tell that we get a mix of people, which is awesome because the non-vegans like the taste and start to have an appreciation for vegan food.

This meant a lot to me. I do know this, but it’s nice to see other people pick up on it too! 

It was a huge risk to pick this location. Not only are there no vegan places around, but the neighborhood can be sleepy and most businesses close at 7pm. 
So you might ask, why did I pick it? I picked it for many reasons. It has a yoga studio on the block. It has 4 other exercise places too. It is 5 minutes from my condo and not far from my other job. The neighborhood is cute and promising. The rent isn’t too bad. There is only one other frozen yogurt store in Glendale. Those were my reasons.

But I still question this location choice from time to time because of all of the “risky” reasons. At the end of the day, I went with my gut, which told me that this location would work. I decided not to let fear take over and to trust that it felt right.

I’m not going to lie and that say I haven’t questioned it at times since we opened, but when I do, I remind myself that I chose this as the first location for a reason and I need to have trust and faith that it was the right choice.

In the last 2 months, there has been a shift and I feel like the neighborhood is accepting us more and more. Those that might have been resistant to trying us at first because of being vegan/organic, are coming around. That makes me happy!

This has been a tough week for me personally. My parents are both having health challenges and I’m dealing with a lot all around. Although I’m exhausted, I’m glad I’m working at Yoga-urt tomorrow because I love it there, risk and all!

   
   

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Busy Weekend

We had a great weekend! The weather was nice and we were busy. All kinds of people came – our regulars, first timers, all ages, vegan, not vegan, from far away, from the neighborhood. 

I’ve said it before but the best part about working at Yoga-urt is seeing people’s reactions when they first taste it. Priceless! They can’t believe how good it is. It never gets old to see their reactions.

We could not make enough waffle cones. They were selling almost as fast as we made them. I was also worried that we might run out of a few Flavors, but luckily, we were fine! 

It is such a good feeling to be so busy and make people happy. It makes all of the work worth it! 

We’ve had 2 really strong weekends in a row and I think it’s going to continue. I’m really happy about that but also starting to get nervous. It could get really crazy really soon. We need to hire more people and I need to make sure that I don’t take on too much and that I get help when I need it, since I still have my full-time job. 

I have almost the same feeling that I had around our opening 7 months ago, kind of like when you are about to get on a roller coaster ride. I’m buckling myself in, I’m going to hang on tight, and let the ride begin. Luckily, I love roller coasters!

   
  
   

Valentine’s Day!

We had a great day at Yoga-urt yesterday. We were offering buy one and get the second one for half off as a Valentine’s Day Special and whether that is why people came or not, it was our best day in a while. It also didn’t hurt that it was a hot day.

I had so much fun talking to all of the different people yesterday. Lots of couples, lots of families, lots of new people, and lots of regulars. I asked this one couple if they had been here before and they said once, it was one of their first dates. How cool is that!!!!

Lots of people drove from far away – Hollywood, Brentwood, Sierra Madre, etc. and that means a lot!

Saturday was good too and it feels like this might be the beginning of our next phase. I’m both excited and a little nervous about what might come as the days become longer and hotter, and we will inevitably get busier. It’s almost the same way I felt around our opening – butterflies, excitement, exhaustion, and disbelief that this is actually happening and my dream has come alive!

We almost ran out of 4 Flavors yesterday. I thought we made enough to get through Monday, but just barely, we made it through Sunday. Luckily, I had someone scheduled to come in this morning to make more so we are fully stocked for today as I think we will be busy again. It really bothers me when we either run out of a flavor or a machine isn’t working as I hate to disappoint people, so I’m so happy we didn’t run out yesterday.

As we are getting busier, I’m starting to interview people to get ready. We need another soft serve maker and will need more cashier/servers soon. 

Our month of February Pint-O-Rama is doing pretty good too. We are at 80 pints so far! 

Thanks to all who came out this weekend and here’s to some exciting times ahead!

   
 

Ben & Jerry’s

I knew it was coming and the official announcement of the flavors came yesterday. It was all over social media – Ben & Jerry’s will have 4 vegan flavors available in about a month. 

I had first read about this about a year ago. We were towards the end of R&D on our product at the time and it felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. Did I do this for nothing? How will I compete? I didn’t have the loan at the time to open a store, so I was very far away from where we are now. I did however have 4 years invested in this and there was no turning back!

Then, it was about 6 months ago when I remembered reading that the Ben & Jerry base would be made from almond milk – the same as ours. That gave me another moment of pause, but they said that they wouldn’t be ready until sometime in 2016, so I was excited that at least we would get a head start. 

Cut to the announcement yesterday. The vegans on social media went crazy. It was posted all over. People are super excited and I’m very happy for everyone. It is a big step. On the other hand, a lot of vegans are not too excited because Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, a company that does animal testing, and the company still make most of their money on dairy. It seems to be a controversial topic.

I have big dreams for Yoga-urt, always have. Not only to have more stores, but to go wholesale with our product. We have been selling pints from the store for about 4 months, and that is going very well! I am hoping to go wholesale by the end of the year if things line up the way I want.

At first, it felt like Ben & Jerry’s might impact my business, and who knows, maybe it might. However, I can’t worry about what Ben & Jerry’s is doing or anyone else for that matter. All I can do is focus on my product, my store, my brand, and make it THE BEST that it could possibly be. That is what I have control of and that is what will make my product/brand shine.

I know my product is good, really good. I also know that we offer the soft serve aspect which Ben & Jerry’s does not. Plus, our product is very different. In addition to being vegan, we are gluten-free, soy-free, organic, have added probiotics, and use biodegradable bowls and spoons – all of which they are not doing. They, on the other hand, have brownies and caramel, etc. in their ice cream. It’s a different product. Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t announced their pricing yet, and I’m going to guess that we are more expensive, but that’s because of all of the things listed above.

Every time I think about it and get worried, I remind myself of something that I heard Oprah say many years ago. It was during the time that she hosted her daytime talk show. All of her competitors were starting to get popular doing salacious shows. She even started to do them, to try and keep up. Then, pretty quickly, she realized that this wasn’t her path. She was not Ricki Lake, or Montel, or Jenny Jones, or Gerardo, etc. She was Oprah and those were not the type of shows that she wanted to do. She held true to who she was, the message that she wanted to share with the world, and tried to make every show the best that it could possibly be. In doing this, she ended up growing her audience and was in a league of her own.

The point of this is that I know that I need to put my attention to Yoga-urt, to making it the best that it could be, and staying true to my brand. If I do that, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. There is room for all of us. This brings me peace.

Yoga-urt can’t compete with Ben & Jerry’s. We haven’t received that much press yet and people are still finding out about us. But we don’t have to. We will just keep doing our thing and see where this journey takes us. My hopes are high and I’m excited to see what 2016 has in store.

Namaste!

  

First Workshop at Yoga-urt

We had our first workshop today on Yoga-urt’s patio. What a crazy day! It was a kombucha workshop, showing how to make your own brews, organized by Kombucha Hunter and it sold out.

We fit about 18 people back there and it was tight because we had workshop tables set up. The crazy part is that it rained most of the day and the workshop was on our patio, with lots of people. Luckily we had tarps up to protect the tables, but the floor was wet and we would’ve been screwed if it poured during the workshop.

It magically stopped raining just before it started. Amazing! It was packed back there but it worked out fine. We’ll probably do another one in March/April. 

Tomorrow is our meditation workshop and it is supposed to be very windy and cold. This weather is killing me, but what can we do. We have a heater and hopefully all goes well. 

I just remembered that it actually rained during our first day of soft opening back in July – that’s right, rain in July. So maybe it’s good luck in some way.

I’m so excited to have workshops at Yoga-urt, as I want our place to feel like a yoga studio and bring the community together. This was a great first step in that direction 🙂