Today we are introducing you to business owner Zarah, a medical scientist who retrained in yoga and cultural teachings after discovering a new way of impacting peoples’ lives.
Zarah is the small business owner of Roots Yoga, a yoga and wellbeing service that is based in Campbelltown, NSW. Zarah chose to open her own studio so that she had a physical location to bring people together and create a community by facilitating yoga, dance and cultural events and workshops.
“Working with Many Rivers means that I have opportunities that I might not have gotten if I tried to go into business without their support. Having their support has given me peace of mind knowing that I could try out certain ventures and pursue opportunities. I felt confident canvassing new clients for contracts because I had support and the opportunity to bounce ideas off Garry, my Many Rivers business coach.”
Read Zarah’s business journey as a business owner.
My business is Roots Yoga. It’s a yoga studio and wellbeing service with an ethos of inclusivity and wellbeing available to a myriad of people.
I have been a yoga teacher for well over a decade now. I had predominantly worked for other people. That can be tough for a yoga instructor when you are travelling to different spaces. It can be challenging to continue to build rapport with participants and keep the community engaged and growing. About 17 years ago I was a medical scientist. However, I realised that I could be more effective in helping people in a different format. That is why I made the switch to yoga instructing. This has been an opportunity for my passion of helping people to really blossom.
I’ve always loved to create things and connect communities of people and I felt that this was really missing in the area. There is no specialised wellbeing and yoga studio in Campbelltown that offers all the services that we do and works so strongly with community, support services and Councils. People didn’t want to have to travel to access these valuable services either. I initially looked into hiring community halls and churches. Then I realised that I needed a permanent physical space to grow a community from.
I was on the NEIS program and my advisor could see where I was with my business plan and that I was passionate, focused and ready to commence. Funding and support were really what I needed. So she put me in contact with Many Rivers a few months before I opened the studio.
Our beautiful space is a plant filled serene sanctuary in Campbelltown. We facilitate yoga, dance and cultural events and workshops. We invite outside facilitators to share their culture and wisdom with our growing community. Yoga means ‘union’ or ‘all things united together’ which is why we offer a lot of different and unique services. Our community is ever-growing and enjoying the many facets of activities that we offer. We opened up the space in October last year, but it was in the works long before that.
Additionally, we facilitate sessions within the mental health and disability sectors, and work with women’s health organisations and trauma informed support services. We are fortunate to have fortified affiliations with recognized organisations such as NDIS disability services, and NGOs such as The Yoga Foundation. On top of this, we deliver our services to schools, refugee groups and events for councils.
Roots Yoga offers a variety of activities such as specialised yoga classes, sound therapy sessions, kids martial arts, African drumming, sound and percussion workshops, and dance classes. We have been affiliated with some larger events such as the Council’s International Women’s Day event, Ingleburn Alive Festival, Happy Buddha retreats, Indigenous Cultural Awareness in Yoga and the FEAST festival.
I have three regular contractors and a few others who are irregular and come in to run particular workshops. Essentially, I have facilitators who come in and teach for me and invoice me for their time. It is the easiest way for me to run the business at the moment.
Working With Many Rivers
Garry, my Many Rivers business coach has been amazing! He is really personable and easy to talk to. I have worked in the industry for a long time and I have some business experience but I am still trying to find my feet with it all. I value his opinion as he has worked across a range of businesses and has experience and insight. Working with Many Rivers means that I have opportunities that I might not have gotten if I tried to go into business without their support. Having their support has given me peace of mind knowing that I could try out certain ventures and pursue opportunities. I felt confident canvasing new clients for contracts because I had support and the opportunity to bounce ideas off Garry.
The best part of Many Rivers support is definitely the support regarding finances. Starting up a business requires so many different costs. The support really allowed me to do what I needed to do to get started and to expand. It wasn’t just trying to get on my feet and get going. I can look ahead to bigger ventures and ideas. I used a Many Rivers microloan to purchase equipment and all the tools that are needed to get the ball rolling. This included things such as advertising and branding. It was pivotal to growing my business. Creating a clear and consistent brand has helped immensely.
The access to legal advice through one of Many Rivers pro bono legal partners was a big support too. Previously, I had looked into legal advice and it was beyond my capacity to access those services. Just having someone to look over documents that I didn’t understand was very, very useful.
The biggest challenge has been managing the growth in respect to the availability of the teachers and the capacity of our space. We would like to grow, however we also have to be mindful of capacity versus quality. Our intention is to provide a unique service that fosters a connected community with a high level of service. I would rather not have so many people crammed in the room that it makes the sessions uncomfortable. As our community grows, more people want to be in there, therefore it is a challenge to figure out how to grow beyond the capacity that it is at now. Perhaps we need to consider expansion and taking on more teachers.
My biggest success has been all the contacts that have approached us to engage our services. Essentially, our physical presence and accessibility has been created and now people are finding us. It shows that the advertising, branding, SEO, and word of mouth has really been working. People are starting to realise that we are more than just a yoga studio.
Biggest Change Since Becoming a Business Owner
Having time for myself! I am really busy now that I am a business owner. When you are doing many of the tasks yourself predominately there are a lot of different little things to keep track of. There is also a physical space to look after and community relationships to maintain. I am setting up effective processes to try and efficiently maximise what time I have. I think that my previous work in the medical sciences field has really made me quite methodical and I enjoy solving the puzzle of how to do things easier.
I would like to grow the community and host more cultural activities and events. Down the track, I would love for Roots Yoga to become a platform for masters in their fields to share their offerings with the local community. I would like to train more yoga teachers. That would allow my business to grow beyond what it is now. Then I can have more time for myself and look into specialised services such as retreats and mentorship. Roots Yoga seeks to shift perspectives to responsible, eco-conscious wellbeing, thereby encouraging other people the opportunity to rise up to their potential.
Thanks Zarah for sharing your business journey. Your story will inspire people who are looking to take their next step towards creating their own business. If you would like to stay updated with Zarah and her journey as a small business owner, follow Roots Yoga on Facebook or Instagram.
Do you have a passion or small business idea? Do you have a business you would like to expand? Would you like some business coaching support?
We’re here to help.
Please take the Small Business Self Assessment and see if we are right for you.