Sharing Excitement

Every time I’m at Yoga-urt, people are asking me about the Echo Park store and telling me how excited they are for it. People are messaging me on social media. Emailing through the website. And just sharing their excitement.

It means the world to me.

First of all, I’m spending money like crazy on Yoga-urt #2 and it’s scary. These things are expensive and big financial risks, but knowing people are waiting for it to open brings some reassurance that it will all work out.

Second of all, although my family is excited for me, my family is preoccupied with other things, most significantly my mom’s struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and overall health. Over the years since Yoga-urt opened in 2015, her health has deteriorated a great deal to the point where she barely leaves her house and has a caregiver most of the day. It has been extremely hard on her and the whole family.

And my mom needs to have an outpatient surgery very soon for a kidney stone, might be around the time Yoga-urt #2 opens which is very stressful and hard. Overwhelming for me. And will once again pull my family in different directions and I just really hope her surgery can happen in June so I can be more present for all.

My dad is as involved as he can be, but has real limitations under the circumstances. And my sister is with her family in OC, and I have no idea really if she will come out to support.

It saddens me that my family can’t be involved in the way that I would like or wish but I’m trying to accept it in a loving way.

Although I hope my family can be a huge part of the Echo Park opening, I’ve decided that either way, I will celebrate the opening of the Echo Park store with my Yoga-urt family – my team and our customers.

And I can’t wait to celebrate!

This last week was very stressful. My GC and I had a few tough moments. Conversations that we had weeks ago that weren’t remembered. Changes needed to pass inspections. Where things go. Who pays for what. There were some tense moments but we are good now. Onward!

We made so much progress this past week. Floor was finished. All equipment was delivered. Cameras and music were installed. Lights and AC were on and working. Subway tile went up. Shelving went up. Started training people at the Glendale store. Graphics were sent for printing.

We start final inspections this week, but the final health inspection probably won’t be until next week. Really hoping for smooth inspections but you never know. So stressful!

We also start the big PR/Marketing push on May 1st. We have a great press kit and video and will reach out to all we can to get Yoga-urt the love and recognition it deserves.

As for the opening date, can’t confirm until final inspections are passed but we are getting close! Still SO much to do though. I am way overwhelmed but up for the challenge as I bring this baby home!


Here We Go!

Here we go is right!

We are probably 3-4 weeks away from opening the Echo Park store as long as we don’t get anymore curveballs.

The place is finally starting to look like Yoga-urt although not there yet. The most exciting thing was to see our exterior sign go up – it’s beautiful! And then our new gate went up. Paint is almost done, mural is up, counter is almost done, and floor is being done this weekend. Next week, all the equipment will be delivered and lots of details have to be done.

I’m really starting to feel the pressure now. All of the stuff that I pushed off dealing with until the end I now have to deal with.

I have to go back to the health department and the city to get some changes signed off on. I have to order all of the items left on the list like chairs & tables. And the thing that is occupying a lot of my time is interviewing potential team members, calling references, offering jobs and soon to be training. Not to mention finalizing the press kit, getting graphics and signs for the store, and soon ordering all the ingredients, toppings, etc. Putting the recipe book together. Buying a safe. The list is endless.

I’m at the point where I need to prioritize as I can’t do it all at once. So that is what I’m doing. And it’s stressful that this has all taken longer than I thought for a million different reasons. I lose money every week we don’t open and there is a lot of planning involved around the opening date which we still don’t know.

I just keep telling myself a week delay here, a day delay there, won’t kill us. To just push as hard as I can and then accept what comes. And try to enjoy the ride. Because once we open, everything shifts in a way that I can’t control.

Over the next few weeks some new Echo Park hires will be training at the Glendale store. It’s going to be a bit crazy, but should get us off to a good start when Echo Park opens.

The countdown is on and after being pregnant for 9 months (literally signed the lease 9 months ago), the baby is coming soon.

Here we go!

Vegan Street Fair & Smorgasburg

In the last few months, we’ve done a couple of festivals/events.

Back in February, we were signed up to do Super Vegan Sunday at Smorgasburg which is where Smorgasburg increases their vegan options for this one Sunday each year. We had prepped big time for this, but around 8pm the night before it was cancelled because of bad rain.

What a bummer, both financially and because of all the prep that went into it. I had spent the last 24 hours getting us ready and my team prepped for weeks. But I thought it was the right decision under the circumstances. We were offered a few make up dates and so we came out the following 2 Sunday’s. It rained one of the Sunday’s so it was pretty much a waste of time. And the 2nd Sunday was much better but it was still a cold day. I think I realized that maybe it’s best not to do events in the winter.

And then we had Vegan Street Fair a few weekends ago, which was our 4th time there and the very 1st event we ever did back in 2016. This event is the biggest vegan festival in the country. In the past, we’ve had nonstop lines, but wasn’t sure what it would be like because it was expanded to 2 days, weather wasn’t the best, and lots more vendors.

Plus, for the 1st time for VSF, no one from my family came to help and they are like my safety net. I had to rely solely on my team but everyone showed up and did a great job.

We introduced a new flavor and brought some favorites. The first day was good but not great, but we still managed to almost sell out of everything we btought. But the second day was great. We had nonstop lines for most of the day which I’m so grateful for.

It was interesting because for both of these events this year, we did not get a lot of love from the social media influencers. In the past, we have, so I honestly didn’t know how that would impact us. Definitely for Vegan Street Fair, it didn’t seem to matter. People came to our booth, waited in line, and we had one of the longest lines there.

We completely sold out of the soft serve scoops on Sunday which is great for many reasons, including that it makes it so much easier to pack up at the end of the night.

And then when I got back to the store around 8:30pm – for the first time ever – we were sold out of all of our soft serve in the machine. Nothing was left. All we had were pints & ice cream sandwiches. Craziness!!! Luckily o had 2 soft serve makers coming on Monday morning to get us caught up for Monday.

Man, these events are a lot of work. That’s why we do just a select few each year. They are physically hard and since I’ve had back issues, I have to make sure I have enough help for the heavy lifting. And the days are like 16 hour days for me. Exhausting!

But it’s fun meeting people, seeing our friends, trying other food, etc. Doing another small event in Orange County this Saturday, our first time in the OC.

But then that’s it until after the Echo Park store opens. I need to focus. Things are moving full steam ahead and it’s time to make it happen!

Construction Curveballs

Remember how I said on my last post that we were having 3 inspections? Well, we got 2 BIG curveballs – the biggest ones – both water & power.

Right after my last post, we got hit with these big issues.

It was an extremely stressful week. One big hit after another. Both seemed at times pretty devastating.

The power issue came to be because we always knew we’d be upgrading the meter from 100 amps to 200 amps. All of a sudden it became an issue. We wanted DWP to tell us where to put the meter and then they questioned if there was enough power or if the whole block of units would need a power upgrade – and if an upgrade was needed – they said it would take DWP close to a year to do. That’s right, imagine hearing that when you’re 4 weeks from opening.

I was pretty devastated to hear this. I made 3 trips to DWP that week to see what could be done. One solution within my control and timing was to cut equipment to live within the existing meter, until DWP did the upgrade a year later.

So I spent a week figuring out what I would cut. Went to the engineer to recalculate the amps but he kept saying I needed to cut more. It was so hard and sad for me. It also meant we’d need to move all soft serve production for BOTH stores to the Glendale store. I started researching trucks that could deliver almost daily to the Echo Park store and thinking how production would work.

I had another call with the DWP engineer, and after sending him pics of the meters he said he thought there was a chance I could increase my meter to 200 amps without the major upgrade – a glimmer of hope.

So last week, both DWP and Building & Safety came out to the store to look at the meters, the transformer, etc. and it was still hopeful as he said the transformer was bigger than he thought. He needed a little more info from us and to study it all and would give me an answer soon.

And guess what! They approved my 200 amp meter – I’m good to go on power and don’t have to cut any equipment. What a relief. I was getting so sad cutting equipment and not being able to start with all I had planned. But now, we’re good to go!

But we also had a HUGE water issue. All plumbing in my unit is good, but there was an issue with the meter it was attached to. It was 5/8″ and we needed one that was at least 1″. So back to DWP we went to beg our case.

DWP said that it could take up to 90 days to get a new meter, but it showed there was an active 1″ meter at that location. I went from feeling defeat at hearing 90 days to some hope that there was a 1″ meter we could use.

We had to find out if anyone else was using the 1″ meter or if we could use it. The next day, with the landlord, we tested all the units and turns out no one was using it (we later found out why, there was a broken pipe that we needed to fix) so we could. I got us a permit to do the work that needed to be done, had an inspector come out, and we did the work last week. Now we just need the inspector to come out to sign off and we are good to go!

Can you believe this crap?

Both my General Contractor and I didn’t sleep for many nights as it seemed we were in big trouble. The possible financial implications for Yoga-urt were so huge, it’s scary to even think about.

So the bad news is we lost about 4 weeks (huge bummer) and there is an added cost for both the time lost and work needed to fix the issues. But this could’ve been so much worse. It could’ve gone on for months or even a year.

DWP was very responsive to me (helps that I went there in person 3 days in one week) and I’m so thankful for that. My GC helped me through the whole thing. My landlord was also very responsive and supportive. So even though it’s been very stressful and scary, I’m so appreciative that we can move forward.

I still don’t understand why these issues came up so late in construction, but my focus was on fixing and moving forward. Some things just don’t have clear answers.

This coming week, we are waiting for inspectors to come back. I hate waiting. We can’t do the drywall until sign off, so we wait. So frustrating.

But after inspections, I think we are moving forward until we hit the finish line. Crossing fingers for no more curve balls.

Still so much to to do and I just really hope that we can open the 2nd part of April!

My Days

My days are kind of crazy right now. It’s go time for store #2 so I’m running around a lot.

For example, here’s how my day went yesterday.

I started by going to the city to deal with an issue with our back door at Echo Park. The good news is the inspector and I came to a conclusion that works for both us. But I have to change it on the plan and come back…again…to get it stamped. So another visit is added to my list for next week.

Then I went to a printer shop to make some copies of the plans because I have to go to the health dept next week as well to show some changes we made.

Next was to the tile place to order the tile for the exterior of the store. I had a tough time deciding between 2 different colors so hopefully I made the right choice.

Next to Smart n Final to pick up dry ice as I had 3 pint shipments to do. So on to Glendale Yoga-urt I go to pack up the pints, and then I took them to Fedex.

Next was dropping the plans back off at the Echo Park store for my GC.

Then back to Glendale Yoga-urt to try and get my walk in before it got dark. Spent some time checking in at the store there and then finally went home.

And all the while also approving signage for the store, ordering some things, and dealing with 1 really big construction problem that I will share more on soon.

I don’t know how I did this last time with a full-time job. It’s a lot now without another job, so how the hell did I do it. I know it wasn’t healthy and I know I’m still recovering, but I guess I just pushed through.

Tomorrow is a big day at Echo Park as we have 3 inspections. Hoping all goes well so we can move forward.

And then we deal with my big problem. At least I’m clear now on our options so hopefully I can make it still work – I have to.

Yoga-urt #2 Update

We’ve been in construction for almost 2 months now with probably 1 more month to go.

The store is coming along nicely but still looks like a construction site. I think it will be about 2 more weeks when it will start to look like Yoga-urt, which is really exciting.

Overall, things have been going well. But in the last few weeks, there seems to be a problem like every other day with construction. Some big. Some small. Some fixed. Some we’re still dealing with. It’s a bit stressful but when an issue comes up, there is no other choice but to find a solution.

Besides the above, for me this past week was about ordering all of our equipment and materials that might take longer than 2 weeks to deliver, as the clock is now ticking.

Ideally, I’ll be doing soft opening during the 3rd or 4th week of March, which is about 4/5 weeks out. So we will need everything delivered as soon as the floor is done in a few weeks. That’s very soon!

This past week I went to the place we got our counter wood and countertop material from to make sure still available – it is! I felt so weird retracing my steps from almost 4 years ago, but was a nice feeling too as we’ve come so far since then.

Started production on our exterior signage, kicked off our mural, found tile for the front, got a bid on a new security gate, ordered our menu board, in addition to ordering the equipment. OMG, I’m spending a lot of money!

I need to order a few more things next week and I really hope I’m not forgetting anything.

But I will say it’s so much easier this time. I know where to go. In some cases, I’m repeating what was done for the first store so less decisions to make. I don’t have my other job so I have the freedom to run around. I can have things delivered to our first store (last time, everything had to be delivered to my condo which meant piles of boxes that eventually had to be transported to the store).

And when we open, I can also borrow some things from the first store if needed like bowls, ingredients, cleaning supplies, etc. just so much easier!

But I feel like I’m on a roller coaster that is going up the first big drop. We are a little more than halfway up and itching towards the top. And in about 4 weeks or so, we are going to drop! I have all of the emotions you have before the big drop: excitement, fear, anticipation, making sure my seatbelt is secured like a million times – lol.

I need to start interviewing and hiring soon so that is a priority the next few weeks as well! But once again, luckily, the new team members can train at the first store so they all will hopefully know what they’re doing by the time we open. Unlike last time when we really just winged it. At least I did. I had no idea what I was doing when we opened the first store…but now I’m an expert!

So that is the current status. Full steam ahead and the PR push will need to start soon too! The countdown begins!

Super Woman

Okay, I’m clearly not super woman, but I kind of felt like it last week.

Despite my best intentions and the best intentions of the people I’m working with on Yoga-urt #2, the holidays did sadly hold us up for a few weeks. I really tried to make that not happen, but it did.

I met with the health department on Dec. 24th, yes that’s right, Christmas Eve and they had a change that needed to be addressed. And of course the company I needed to address the change was shut down until after New Years. What a bummer!

So that was that. But you better believe as soon as New Year’s Day was over, I contacted them as quickly as possible.

The changes were ready for the health department last Monday and I was able to get an appointment with the health department last Tuesday! Thankfully, it went well!

But there were several other steps needed to get us back on track. I knew if I left it to others, it would take weeks so my mission last week was to do everything in my power to get where we needed to be.

I went to the city like 3 times in 2 days. I met with waste management. I met with milk & dairy. Every step along the way had a curveball and it felt like there would be more delays, but I found a solution for every single one.

While at the city, I met with our city plan checker who said the first available day he could meet with me was January 17th – a week and a half away. I was so bummed to hear this and pleaded to be seen earlier. Luckily, he said if I came towards the end of the day, he would try to see me but no promises.

So I did just that and he met with me. Of course, there was another curveball but it was resolved quickly and I got everything I needed.

It was 2 full days of running around and meetings, but it was such a relief!

So we are back on track now for Yoga-urt #2. My hope is that we can catch up for the lost time in construction, but it’s too early to tell.

And the good news is I now personally know the inspectors, plan checkers, etc. and they have seen my passion for this so that should hopefully make things easier all around.

I’m so proud of myself for turning everything around in 2 days and I’m grateful I had the time to do it. With Yoga-urt #1, I was still working my full-time day job and this would’ve been impossible to do so quickly.

2018 – Year of Gratitude

At the end of each year, I try to summarize it with one word as I have done the last few years.

For 2015, the word was INTENSE. For 2016, the word was GROWTH. For 2017, the word was PROMISE.

And for 2018, the word is GRATITUDE.

Boy, did you all show up for us this year! This year was our best year yet and that’s because of our customers. We are so grateful to each and every one of you for loving Yoga-urt like you do.

Yoga-urt is a lot of work, takes a lot of money, and the challenges that come up can be very stressful and disheartening at times. But it’s all worth it because of our customers.

So many times this year, people would thank me for Yoga-urt. And I thank them right back. It means the world to me, and this journey feels very lonely at times, so when I can connect with our customers it feels good.

I am grateful that you all embraced our pie slices, popsicles, & ice cream sandwiches. I am grateful that our sales grew even with a competing business right next door. I am grateful that you loved our new flavors. I am grateful for all the kind words.

Most of all, I am so grateful that I was able to get a loan and move forward with Yoga-urt #2. And I’m so grateful that you all are as excited about Yoga-urt #2 as I am.

Lots to feel grateful for.

We were open again on Christmas Day although this time I didn’t work it alone. Another team member worked too which was great because we were very busy! And, of course, we brought out the hot chocolate again which we do just a few times a year.

On the flip side, personally, these last few months have been very hard on me. My mother’s 17 years with Parkinson’s Disease has taken a toll on me and my family. It became so painfully clear with the holidays in December how much things have changed. It’s so hard.

This year has been quite a big transition for me as I went from working a full-time job in addition to Yoga-urt, to now just focusing on Yoga-urt. It makes things so much easier for me in some ways, but harder in some others. I’m now “all in” with Yoga-urt.

All in with Yoga-urt sounds pretty good. There has been so much risk on this journey, but I continue to listen to my gut and pursue my calling.

I’m so excited for what 2019 will bring Yoga-urt.

Coming Soon Signs are up for Yoga-urt #2

Last week, the day before Thanksgiving, the coming soon signs went up in Echo Park.

This is always a big moment for me, and as exciting as it is, it also makes me feel very vulnerable. I feel vulnerable because Yoga-urt will be new to a lot of people and it puts it out there in a big way. And because there is no turning back.

I actually hired the same designer/installer for this coming soon sign as I did for the 1st store. But this time, we went all out as we have much more tease with this time. Plus, it’s right on Sunset Blvd with non-stop cars passing by, so it’s perfect for marketing Yoga-urt!

So, they are up! It’s out there! Can’t turn back now!

As for city/health approvals and construction, we have all approvals except health which should come in next week and construction will start next week if permitting goes smoothly.

Things have actually gone pretty quickly. It took longer to do the plans than I was hoping for, but the city approvals came in very quickly making up for it. It’s hard being patient waiting for this and that, but so it goes.

We (Yoga-urt and I in case you are wondering who the we is πŸ™‚ are in much better shape than with the first store as I’m using the same General Contractor and same Designer, so there is a built in trust. We have the general branding, it’s just making it right for the space and right for Echo Park. Plus I’m not working a full-time day job right now as I was last time which is a HUGE difference.

I feel like this is the calm before the storm. It’s hard for me to be patient, but I know I should enjoy this time as once construction starts the roller coaster ride begins with all of the twists, turns, fear, and excitement that comes with it. Luckily, I love roller coasters! 😘

It’s Finally Happening!


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!!!