Within the Portland metro area, yoga studios are nearly as abundant as coffee shops and breweries. So if you’re in the yoga business, how do you rise above the fray? According to Jennifer Pahl, it’s all about the twist. Here, she shares her experience as founder of Twist Yoga and its sister company, Twist Your Workplace.
What was the spark that inspired the birth of Twist Yoga?
I discovered yoga about eight years ago. It was a surprise gift. I was always a very competitive and much more “traditional” sport-oriented fitness fiend. Yoga was hard. I was not “good” as it. I couldn’t touch my toes. I wasn’t flexible. But, it had something that kept me coming back for “one more time.” Eventually, I was captivated. It was as if I was looking for this all along and didn’t know it. The only problem was that there was not a studio close enough to my house to make it a regular practice.
Simultaneously, I was at a point in my life where I knew I wanted to do something “bigger.” After a career in financial sales, I was itching to start my own business. The problem was I didn’t know what it was. It had to be local. I had to love it. And, I could only “sell” something that spoke to my heart and my brain. One day, on the mat, where we are practicing “presence and being in the NOW,” it popped into my head—it was crystal clear and undeniable. I would open a yoga studio. I couldn’t ignore it. I came home that day and told my husband. About one year later, it happened.
Then about a year ago, I launched Twist Your Workplace, a sister company to Twist Yoga. Twist Your Workplace creates corporate wellness programs to support a company’s most valued asset—its employees. We offer yoga and fitness, meditation, mindfulness, and nutrition classes and workshops on-site at corporations as well as in-studio. Six months ago, my husband, Mark, left a 25-year career in hi tech sales to run Twist Your Workplace. His background in the rigors of a stressful corporate culture make him the perfect fit to explain and implement true corporate wellness solutions. I am excited to be working together to bring happiness to clients both on and off the mat.
What differentiates Twist Yoga from other yoga studios?
The foundation of our studio is creating a welcoming environment with the best teachers where students feel inspired and powerful. Not a week goes by that I don’t get a comment, email or phone call about our yoga teachers. They are simply THE BEST. They continue to amaze me with their knowledge, guidance and spirit. Being an independently-owned studio, we have the flexibility to try new things and be very agile. When we see a need or something that would serve our community better, we can implement it pretty quickly. We invest back in our community by supporting local schools, foundations, clubs, and other charities.
How did you come up with the name?
From the moment I knew I would open a studio, I knew the name would be TWIST. It was another thing that came to mind with such clarity, intention, and permanence that I never, even for a second, considered another name. It encapsulated exactly what I wanted the studio to embody. Plus, it was a marketing goldmine: a “twist” on the traditional studio, yoga with a “twist,” the obvious tie to yoga twisting poses, and the more tongue-and-cheek tie to cocktails! Yes, indeed, we would serve up our ancient yogic philosophy with an occasional cocktail, served with a twist of course.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child growing up in Miami, I wanted to be a go-go dancer. Those boots! Who wouldn’t? I have been known to dance on a bar. Or, two.
What song best describes your entrepreneurial journey?
It’s more like a playlist:
- “Don’t Stop Believing”
- “Awake My Soul”
- “Hot in the City”
- “Love Shack”
- “I Am Woman”
- “Bust a Move”
- “I Wanna be Sedated”
What’s your favorite local business?
Oh, so many!
- The Play Boutique
- Blue Moon Coffee
- Brow Betty
- Nic & Figs: A Makery
- Kelly’s Jelly
- Chuck Pies
… and, not because they are all owned by local women. They are all my friends, partners in crime, and business advisors.
What’s your #1 piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs?
I have three pieces of advice:
- Write a business plan. The whole thing. Yourself. It may seem “old school” to millennials but, if there is not a big enough market for your product or service, or too much competition, it may not pencil out. It’s a business. No matter how much you “love” what you sell or do, if it’s not a viable business, love don’t pay the bills.
- Pay your own bills. With a check. Don’t auto-pay anything for the first six months. It’s imperative to keep your expenses under control. When you write that check out, long-hand, and look at the invoice or bill, you will be more aware of your expenses. Use Quickbooks to track everything. Categories, graphs, and charts many not sound sexy and like something a cool, hip, nontraditional entrepreneur like you may want to spend time on, but too bad. Suck it up and do it.
- DON’T CO-MINGLE your personal and business accounts. It gets messy and hard to manage. The sooner you divorce the two, the better. Plus, the IRS doesn’t dig it. At all.