Yogarise is a family-run yoga studio that first opened its doors in Peckham Rye, 2014. Our high quality teaching and welcoming vibe quickly took us to neighbouring Streatham in January 2019. That same year, in May, we decided to take on a central London studio which was once thriving but was in huge need of some TLC to get it back on track. We took a lot on in a short space of time, but we were prepared for a challenge... and then Covid hit.
Like many businesses, we have done what we can to make ends meet - taken loans, borrowed and applied for what we can, used all our savings - while also trying our hardest to support our teachers and keep the community spirit alive. We've offered free NHS classes and discounts, free IGTV sessions, and now three £3 online community classes per week taught by our very own Yoga Teacher Training Graduates, so that even in these challenging times, yoga is made more accessible. But we want to be able to continue doing this (and more) and to serve our community for many years to come.
What have we done so far to adapt?
Our first priority was customer and staff safety so the initial changes we made were structural. Each venue had two stand-alone studios that we knocked through in order to create one large, socially-distanced room in Peckham, Streatham and Covent Garden. Seeing our customers' happy faces upon entering the new, spacious studios was not only heartwarming but a vital part of seeing us through the crisis. We also installed sinks in each reception, a one-way system, reduced class sizes and a whole host of new measures to keep everyone safe and well.
We also quickly realised the need for yoga at home - the chance for our Yogarisers to continue with their practice, continue with their routine, albeit from their homes, and for teachers to see their 'regulars' as well as some new online yogis - to connect and come together virtually. In the absence of the community vibes we have worked so hard to foster in our studios, this need for online yoga was something we had to learn fast, adapt to quickly (with a few bumps and scrapes along the way - thanks for bearing with us!)... and finally getting into the swing. The ups and downs of livestream, plus trying to keep up with the need for On Demand classes, has kept us busy, but unfortunately the online yoga marketplace is a very competitive one. We are proud of what we have achieved so far during the crisis, but for us to survive we simply must diversify further and invest in improving our online offering.
The pandemic has made us realise that we can no longer rely on the 'bricks and mortar' (the physical studios) alone - we have no idea if there will be further lock-downs or a big down-turn in customers who simply do not feel ready to return to classes in person. To future-proof our business we need to raise funds to create a range of yoga products and produce more content for our On Demand platform.
While the studios have been closed we have been busily working on a prototype mat. This mat was born out of years of feedback from customers and teachers on a quest to find the perfect yoga mat. Our prototype mat is made from naturally antibacterial cork with a TPE base, making it durable, biodegradable and fully recyclable. It is also non-slip and super lightweight - perfect for carrying to and from the studio (when they reopen), taking on retreats or using at home.
The 'at home workout' has become the 'new normal' but with so many yoga products and online classes to choose from, it can be a mission to decipher what is quality over what is not. With over seven years 'in the industry', we have some understanding of what people want and can try to fulfil this as best we can - be it through a great mat or yoga props to enhance your at-home practice, or a great On Demand class with one of our brilliant Yogarise teachers. Our cork mat is just the start of our journey into this area of the business but there is great scope to grow, to market and for this to make a real difference in whether the studios can pull through post-Coronavirus.
This vital funding will be used to source, test, craft, create and curate high quality yoga products for everyone to enjoy. Our pledge is to make sure all our products meet at the very minimum CE standards, are ethical and eco-friendly, while also being durable, practical and nice to look at :)
Your contribution, however big or small, will ultimately help us to weather the storm of the coming months and allow us to:
- Carry out customer research groups
- Design new products
- Develop our e-commerce website
- Purchase stock
- Market our new products
And guess what? If we hit our target, the Mayor of London will donate £5k all of which will go back into this project and will help with the survival of the studio.
In addition to these physical products, we also intend to improve and grow our library of Yogarise On Demand videos. We have produced the current selection on a shoestring and are getting some great feedback. With further investment, we can progress this growing catalogue, tailoring it to customers' needs, while also enabling us to offer an even greater number of free-to-air classes to our community.
We are forever grateful to our team, teachers and all those who have supported us throughout this tough period, be it through online classes, purchasing memberships, gift vouchers or giving us a virtual hug. We so look forward to Yogarising together again soon. Thanks for reading! Please share with friends and anyone who might like to give yoga a try.
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