Question: How did you come by the name of your business?
Coming up with the name of my business was a long process. This is because, I wanted something easy to remember and true to the activities of the business. Also, I wanted a name that was general enough in such a way that it wouldn’t scare anyone who wasn’t a yogi away. The first name I came up with was “The House of OM”. I loved that name, but in the really small town(religious area) where my studio is located, it just couldn’t work. So I played with lots of different names and one day I was like, “just Breathe Briana…” and the rest is history.
Question: Tell me how you came up with your business idea?
I’m always thinking of new businesses as a way of enhancing the community where I live. Honestly I wasn’t looking at opening a business at all. I just had my third child in April, so my body wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I was tired, busy, and really not a fan of the area I was living in.
I also attended a class that lasted for an hour regularly. In order to get to this class, I found myself driving to Richmond which was 45 minutes drive away from my home. This experience wore thin on me really quickly.
One day, my husband and I were walking down the street and we noticed a building for rent. I told him that could be a cool yoga spot, and I wouldn’t have to drive to get to my yoga class all the way in Richmond. I didn’t think about it again for about a month. I have owned 3 other businesses in my life and Breathe is actually my second yoga studio. Because of my previous experiences, I am aware about how hard it is to make what you love a business. This made me less interested because of the responsibilities I already had. The universe kept calling me and I continued to be in that window of inaction. On one occasion as I was driving by, I saw the rental sign again and then I jumped. I knew the community would benefit from a Yoga studio, not to mention a black owned business that wasn’t a hair salon. I realized that the business wasn’t really an idea and that it was the divine living through me.
Question: Do you think your background has prepared you for your current role?
LOL… No! I come from a single parent home in the heart of the hood – Inglewood CA to be exact. I’ve never been a quitter and I’ve never been afraid to do what I love without thinking about the aftermath. It’s definitely a gift and a curse. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so fearless and I could just have a regular 9 to 5 job, but I’ve never been that girl. I was born to be an entrepreneur.
Growing up, my dad made things and sold them. We used to hang out at flea markets all day on some occasions in order to sell junk items he found or made. When we were young, my sister and I would go around the house and take stuff belonging to my mom that we thought she had no use of (or so we thought) and make gift baskets out of them. Once we were done, we would sell them. In high school I was known as the candy girl. My mom would take me to Smart n’ Finale and I’d buy all the popular candy and sell it between classes. Soon, I started taking profits from the student store and I got in lots of trouble for that. It didn’t stop though, I just did it before and after school. In college, I had more hustles than I can remember. I’ve always worked for myself and I always will.
Question: Can you share some insights as a female entrepreneur operating in your sector?
The biggest thing that comes to mind is it’s going to be so hard. You are going to be tired working hard like a dog with little recognition. So if you don’t love what you do (and I mean really love it) , don’t do it. Know that in the beginning a lot of your personal life will suffer. I’m blessed to have my husband who will watch the kids and get them ready for bed because sometimes I don’t get to see them. Sometimes I cook dinner at 11am because I know after carpool I won’t see my kids at all. It’s a huge load of work and you must work when you are tired, sick, unpaid, and just pushed to your limit. It’s not glamorous but it’s definitely rewarding to see your dream become a reality. I guess I say all that to say; work harder than you ever imagined you could, and then when you start to see your dream inspire others to dream… work harder!
Question: Do you think there are advantages or disadvantages to being a female entrepreneur?
Maybe in different fields, but I haven’t experienced any real disadvantage because every business I have opened caters more to women. I am a real girly girl and I enjoy inspiring other women to embrace their feminine magic. However, being a black female entrepreneur is a different story altogether. You get tons of side way remarks like: “Oh you should be so proud of yourself for doing something.” or “Oh you are the owner, I thought you just sat at the front desk all the time” lol. People respond better to me if they believe I just work at my business location instead of owning it. I don’t believe it’s a business thing, it just has to do with our current state of affairs with regards to the culture.
Question: What are some of the challenges you experience in the execution of your duties?
In everything we do, we face challenges. I don’t live in that space. If I hit a road block, I work very hard to get over it and move on. No challenge should keep you from following your dreams. Not money, not time, not life, not family. If you are stopped by a challenge, it shows that you already quit before the challenge was presented. Because of this belief, I don’t have anything that keeps me from my duties. Duty calls and I answer.
Question: Share some words of advice for young women who have dreams of becoming entrepreneurs
My beautiful Black Women… you are the chosen people and you have more talent and creativity than you believe. Do not stop dreaming! No business is too small to make an impact. No idea is too stupid when you follow the right direction. Remember to ask for help when you need it and don’t be afraid of hard work. Anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself first. Write down your ideas. Write down what you think you need to make that idea a reality. Write down the people you know that can help you make your idea a reality by offering resources (financial and non-financial). Then write down where this idea is needed the most (city, location (eg. do you need a store front or do you need a virtual store) and most importantly, be REALISTIC! Don’t try to open Target, start small. Small businesses matter most. I believe in you.
Article was first published on Huffpost – December 6th, 2017