YSBEC Helps Wellness Studio to Clarify its Business Vision
Isidora Romantini hasn’t had a day off in six months. “I’m okay with that,” says the owner of Stouffville Yoga Life. She’s just happy to be her own boss.
A former clothing store manager, Romantini quit retail after about 10 years and returned to school to become a registered massage therapist and yoga teacher. At that point, she says, “I knew I wanted to open a studio of my own, but I just didn’t know how to go about doing it.”
So, she played it safe, and worked as a massage therapist and yoga teacher at a number of locations. Then, when one of the studios where she worked shut down in early 2015, it was the impetus she needed to strike out on her own.
One of her top priorities was developing a vision for her business. “I needed to have a clear vision of the kinds of services I wanted to provide,” says Romantini. “I knew that yoga would be involved and some type of therapy and I wanted to bring those together.”
She also needed a business plan. “I had never written a business plan,” she says. “I didn’t know where to start.” Then, when her husband (who owns Stouffville Yoga Life with Romantini) suggested she seek out free government resources for start-ups, she stumbled upon the website of the York Small Business Enterprise Centre (YSBEC).
“I chose it because it was local,” says Romantini, who emailed YSBEC and, within 24 hours, had arranged a face-to-face appointment with a consultant. The consultant spent about an hour with her, recommending that she first thoroughly research the demographics of her potential customers. “That was a big thing,” says Romantini. “He steered me in the right direction. After our meeting, I went on all the websites—the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, Statistics Canada, Canada Revenue Agency and others.”
But it was after her second appointment with the YSBEC consultant that her business vision started to crystallize. “He asked me what I would do if a big franchise opened a yoga studio here,” she says. “That totally freaked me out because it’s possible! I really had to think about what would make my studio unique.”
Romantini ultimately arrived at her business vision by focusing on her potential customers. “We knew that, no matter who came through our doors, they would be looking for some kind of help,” she says. “We would be that support system and provide as many services as possible under one roof.”
Armed with greater clarity, Romantini finished writing her business plan, took it to the bank and succeeded in getting a line of credit. She also tapped into her network of wellness professionals to help her round out the services the studio could provide.
On September 28, 2015, Stouffville Yoga Life opened its doors in a beautifully restored heritage building near the town’s main street. In addition to yoga classes, Romantini and her team of independent contractors offer pilates, registered massage therapy, Thai yoga massage, reiki and psychotherapy, as well as chiropractic and acupuncture services.
And customers have taken to the full-service model. “So far, we’re on track,” says Romantini, noting that the studio has slightly exceeded the goals outlined in her business plan. “Our plan is to open a second location. We’re scouting about for a place right now.”
You can learn more about Stouffville Yoga Life and continue following this local York Region success story at stouffvilleyogalife.com.
Sara Bedal is a writer, editor and plain-language specialist in Aurora who helps businesses and organizations communicate more effectively. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.