Each of our current Founding Members shares a little bit about our experience with forming and being in this cooperative as we commemorate opening our doors one year ago. Tell us below what it is that you enjoy about our Co-op!
My grandma gave me advice at my baby shower many years ago. She said “Raising kids is a lot like fishing. Sometimes you gotta know when to reel them in, and when to give them more line.” While I wouldn't consider myself an avid fisher, those words of advice have proved true for me as a parent, as a yoga teacher, and as the president and co-owner of Sheboygan County Yoga Co-op.
As a parent getting to watch your child explore, gain knowledge of the world around them, let them develop trust and build faith in the ups and downs of life. As they grow, they get more 'line'. All to soon you check the line and see that it leads to an amazing person, unique and wonderful. There were times you had to reel them in. Maybe because you weren't ready to let them go, or maybe they were just pulling away too fast. Perhaps those two are one in the same.
As the president and co-owner of a small business the fishing analogy also applies. The coming together of multiple minds with a common goal, but different pathways, perspectives, and personalities. Giving out too much line we can loose focus of the goal, or be overwhelmed by distractions. Reeling in too quickly to focus on the little details and we lose perspective of the big picture. After year one looking back on that line seeing our growth from where we started, what we offer to the community, how we got here, and what we have learned on the way. As the fisher of this scenario, I have learned much over a years time and I'm excited for our future.
Our first year (hooray!) has been one of tremendous growth. Thank you all for being part of it!
Deidra- Vice President
The definition of a Cooperative is a perfect rendition as to why I wanted to become a part of our Co-op.
I have wanted to own my own yoga studio ever since, well at least college. My degree is in Health Wellness and Fitness with a concentration in Health Promotions. I remember in my classes we had to formulate and draw up a business plan. Create a name, a website, a layout of the space, our budget and start up costs. A very beginner mock up of your own fitness center. I knew I wanted to create a yoga studio business model. Even that was a ton of work. The startup costs were a little daunting, especially renting a space and creating it to be the studio that I envisioned.
What’s funny is that I had interned at Plymouth Yoga the summer before I did this assignment. I fell IN LOVE with the studio. The way it looked. The size. The layout. The whole feel of it. And I’ll admit, I used it as inspiration to create my fitness center assignment.
About a year after I graduated and slowly fell into thinking I would never use my degree, Kaitlynn came to me with the idea of joining her in owning what once was Plymouth Yoga. To be in her beautiful studio that I so much loved and currently taught at. Even more, I’ve dreamt of working with Kaitlynn somehow some way because she is simply a person I that I look up to. Her gentle heart. Creative spirit. And daringness to live in the yogic world and do it as a living. These were all things I yearned for so badly. So when she asked me if I wanted to do this with her I immediately said, “yes!” with my heart. My brain said, “let’s figure out a way to make this happen” as I wasn’t in the best financial state and wanted to make a smart move.
The beautiful thing about this Co-op was that a lot of the start up costs were already covered. The space was already created. There were teachers already willing to teach. There were students who wanted a place to do yoga. AND it was a chance for me to run (cooperatively) a yoga studio! All we needed was to make it our own and bring it back to life.
So with many meetings and a whole bunch of creative thinking, we formed the Sheboygan County Yoga Co-op. To this day, almost 1 year later, I am an Owner Member of the Co-op making money and complete with my investment cost. I am making decisions almost daily as to how I/we want this Co-op to be and become. I am creating connections through other teachers and students. And living the life I dreamt of so many years ago. All while being able to do it collectively with some pretty amazing women. To me, that is a dream come true.
It has been nearly one year since we opened, and well over a year since the idea of a yoga co-op surfaced in the collective minds of a few of us here. Sometimes I'm asked if it was hard to lose control of what I had spent so many years doing autonomously, and I very much welcome relinquishing control! I now have the opportunity to confront my micro-management-perfectionist-while-being-far-from-perfect self. And in its place, I find insightful perspectives, collaborative voices, and laughter.
It's easy for me to point out lots of the benefits of cooperative work. What I find difficult to share is the sense of responsibility. I constantly feel responsible for the stability of the studio, for the satisfaction of students, for the success of the teachers and full classes. It's hard for me to remember that the success of this endeavor doesn't hinge on me alone. It's not even solely dependent on the work of the member-owners (which, by the way, is a lot, a lot of work). It is dependent on everyone.
We cannot teach without students. We cannot have students without class times that work for them, or enough motivation to come to them. There's a critical mass at which point everything begins to flourish. When there are enough students, teachers are excited to teach classes. When there are teachers that are engaged and available, students are excited to see a full range of offerings. Before that point, we struggle to find teachers that can donate their time each week. Before that point, we struggle to find enough participants to attend classes spread throughout every day on the schedule.
But when we finally get to that point, it will be a wonderful feeling, not because of any one person, but because it is a combined success, a shared sense that we are all excited to be part of the whole. And the excitement grows. And the community grows. And then even when parts of us move away, or fall out of contact, we remain with a feeling of togetherness, a feeling of wholeness, and that is a beautiful, cooperative thing.
Being a small business owner can feel lonely at times. Our yoga co-op - the banding together of yoga teachers to run a studio - has felt like a sisterhood, and has given me a much needed sense of community.
We are all different and have varying strengths and weaknesses. The beauty of it is that we are not alone, but in this endeavor together. We help to fill in the gaps and take turns picking up the slack where needed.
I look forward to our years growing this little co-op into something truly fulfilling and wonderful for our community. More connections, more locations, more students and teachers! The sky is the limit.
I love these souls and am so thankful to be able to create something wonderful together. Here's to Year 2 of ShebCoYoCo!!