by PJ Wells
Stretch Yoga opened its doors on May 5th 2014. Today, the night before our 3rd birthday, I’m feeling reflective. I wanted to write a little post about our last 3 years, and most importantly what I’ve learned (in some amazingly happy and also incredibly hard lessons). There are some things I do pretty badly, some thing I'm sort-of ok at, and a few things I'm totally nailing. Those things, the things I've mastered, are the reason our doors are still open, and I hope if you're reading this that they resonate with you in some way too!
Starting my own business was either the bravest or stupidest thing I’ve ever done, but also by far the most rewarding! Anyone who has owned a business knows that it’s tough – the first 6 months held a lot of tears, fears and not much sleep! Stretch is far from perfect, and as an owner and a boss most days I’m still figuring it out as I go, but having come as far as we have on this journey, I know that these things by far have helped me the most:
1. Being authentic
It’s a word that’s thrown around a lot – especially in the yoga community, but one that I think is pretty hard to put into action. In the beginning I wanted to be everything to everyone. I had an idea of what I wanted Stretch to be like, but I also wanted to earn money to keep the doors open (even if that meant compromising some times)! What I’ve learned is that lots of people will give you advice, and you will feel pressure to act in a certain way to fulfill a perceived ‘role’. You have to ignore it all. Once I stopped trying to be someone I wasn’t, and got super clear about what Stretch was about (come as you are!), things really start to flow.
Anyone who’s met me knows that I have a fairly lame sense of humour (thanks for that Dad!), love wine/gin/allofthecocktails, and am pretty much a completely open book (that comes without a filter). There are days that I feel like I’m a fraud for not being more ‘yogic’. I’ve been accused of not being spiritual, and been slammed on Facebook for offering less traditional yoga offerings. People have walked out of our classes, and many people have never come back. But the people that love us, love us. The community at Stretch is testament to the fact that my dad jokes makes people feel at ease. That being yourself pays off. I choose my teachers based on their authenticity too, and we encourage every person who comes through the door to simply be themselves. Be authentic – it’s something that we live and breathe, and will continue to do. I promise.
2. Surrounding myself with amazing people
I’ve been asked before how I pick the teachers here at Stretch. I’m pretty blessed to say that not only are the teachers here amazing at what they do, but are some of my closest friends. I picked each and every one of them because they are the people I want by my side every day. They are talented, compassionate, passionate and most importantly to me, warm. They welcome each and every single person who walks into our studios as though they’re an old friend. Which is why they are all so loved!
I’m lucky that many of them came into my life long before I ever thought about starting Stretch. Kaitlyn and I worked in a bar together when we were 19 years old. Ari sat next to me one day when we were in teacher training, and Emma and I knew each other from the same course. Charlotte used to be a student of mine. Every one of them teaches me new things every time I step into their classes. I couldn’t do what I do without them. They are the talent – I simply get to hold the space!
3. Never being afraid to ask for help (and admit I don’t know!)
The more I know, the more I realise I don’t know. I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask for help, and be honest when I’m not sure about something. That applies to yoga poses, accounting, managing staff and dealing with unhappy customers. I have a board of trusted advisors – my parents, my friends and flatmates, the teachers here and especially our amazing students! There are so many people around me that are incredibly gifted at what they do – and more importantly wiser and often more objective than me in challenging situations.
No man (or woman) is an island. I know that no one expects me to be an expert on everything – and I’m honest that I often have to go and research or ask someone who knows more than me before giving an answer! I want to make sure I never get it wrong – I’m never going to pretend I know something I don’t!
I’ve asked so many of you reading this for your advice and opinions. So many of you have helped me in ways that you probably don’t even realise. And pretty soon, I’m going to be asking you guys for help again as we move onto our bigger (and better) new space! From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I love learning, and growing, and knowing that I’m supported by so many beautiful souls! My life is pretty darn blessed!
If you’re reading this and have a question, or maybe want some help from me, take this as your cue to ask! I’m never too busy to help, and if I don’t know I can probably point you in the right direction (because I’ve asked someone something similar before)! 3 years of experience may not be all that much, but I’m happy to share any of it!
So Happy Birthday to Stretch, to our Community and darn-it, to me! I can't wait to see what the next 3 years holds x