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Jennifer Pahl

Twist Yoga

Jennifer Pahl

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores this evening, I have the owner of twist yoga, Jennifer Paul. Jennifer, welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. How are you doing?

Jennifer Pahl  0:14  

I'm doing great. Thank you so much for having me. It's such a pleasure to be here.

Gabriel Flores  0:17  

Oh, it's such a pleasure to have you. So let's introduce, introduce the world to Jennifer, who is Jennifer?

Jennifer Pahl  0:23  

Oh, wow, that is a loaded question. Who is Jennifer? This is an interesting question, because we do a teacher training program at twist. And one of the questions is we ask people who they are. And it's it's interesting to see how people respond. And we'd like to kind of get to the, to the nitty gritty of it of who you are. You know, not I'm a mother. I mean, I am a mother. I'm a wife. I'm a daughter. I'm a yoga studio owner. But what what am I on the inside? And I think I am a connector, I would say,

Gabriel Flores  0:53  

Nice. What do you think makes you a connector? Well,

Jennifer Pahl  0:57  

I'm an only child. And I think maybe it's kind of that desire to broaden my circle of friends and family maybe a little bit. And I just love all of my friends from all different parts of life. And I love introducing my awesome people to my other awesome people. So there's nothing I love more than making connections. We talked about that kind of our first call.

Gabriel Flores  1:22  

Yes, yes. So tell us let's, let's talk about twist yoga. What? What do you do? How did you start it?

Jennifer Pahl  1:27  

Sure. So in 2012, I was a stay at home mom for the first time. My background is in financial, not really financial sales, but also being a connector helping companies go public, connecting them to all the different parts and pieces. And when I moved here from Atlanta to Portland, I was staying home for the first time for a few years. And I started taking yoga classes. And I hated them. I hated yoga, everything about it. I hated how nice everyone was. And I hated that. I didn't I'm not flexible at all. And so I hated that. I wasn't like, quote unquote, good at it. But I started taking it a little bit more kind of forcing myself into because I knew my body really needed it. And I was driving all over the Portland area to take yoga classes. And there just was nothing close by and lived in Lake Oswego at the time, there was nothing close by and I just kept wondering, well, why doesn't someone open a yoga studio in town? And I asked lots of different owners. I even went to some of the franchises and they're like, oh, no, you know, we're an urban studio, or we're this or that. And so one day, I'm taking yoga class, and I thought, Man, I don't know why don't I just open a yoga studio? How hard can it be? And that was like the question that just ended it. All right. How hard can it be? How hard was it? It certainly wasn't hard at the beginning in we opened in December of 2013. And it was a beautiful magical time, when there wasn't a yoga studio in the area, right about when we opened another really sweet, small yoga studio, locally owned opened in Lake Oswego. At the same time, we still to this day, are the only two local yoga studios in Lake Oswego. And I thought, how it just can't be that hard. I found some property little a little in a strip mall that worked for me, it was a mile from my house. And I didn't know what I didn't know. So I, I made my business plan. And I made this marketing plan where I put $0 in for advertising and marketing because I thought, I don't know I just hang up a sign and everyone's gonna come. can't be that hard. Well, you know,

Gabriel Flores  3:33  

yeah. So how did you get your first client?

Jennifer Pahl  3:36  

Wow. So I did pre sell some memberships, because I did have friends in the area who were taking yoga. So we did kind of a founding Membership Special at the beginning, and had just some some great friends that trusted me, I was not a yoga teacher when I opened up twist, which was another thing that a lot of other owners told me you have to be a teacher in order to open a yoga studio. And I just found that very strange. You know, like, if you open a shoe store, you don't have to make shoes, you hire people who can do that. I'll run this side, they are teaching that side. And that worked out fine for me. But I didn't you know, I was super, super scrappy. At the beginning. I literally brought like furniture from my house into the studio. As a matter of fact, to this day, our front desk is a desk that has moved with me from from Georgia to here and was part of my dining room set. So I mean, everything was scrappy at the beginning. And it was fine. It felt homey. And most of it's still there.

Gabriel Flores  4:33  

So when you started it, what was there anything that you realize, like wow, this is something I didn't know it's gonna have to deal with.

Jennifer Pahl  4:40  

Oh my gosh, there's so many things I didn't think I would have to deal with, you know, music licensing. I didn't really know that that was necessarily going to be a thing. All of the different parts of like the legal side and all of the contracts with different people. I didn't really have a lot of experience with that. You know, there's there's lots of parts and pieces, you know, and I did the first two years, I had no employees. I just had teachers who were independent contractors. And I did everything. I plunged the toilet a lot. We have one very fussy toilet. I did the books, I did the interviews on TV, like I did, from one side to the other, all of it and I, and to this day, I still handwrite every single check. I'm very particular that I want to know exactly what's coming in and what's going out on my business. But luckily, I have people help with some of the other things now.

Gabriel Flores  5:35  

Nice. Now was twist yoga, your initial kind of business proposition or did you have a another business one before that?

Jennifer Pahl  5:42  

No, I, I knew I wanted to own a brick and mortar, something. And I knew that I wanted it to be kind of we call twist that a hub of happiness. So we don't sell yoga, we sell happiness. And I didn't know what I was going to sell there. I'd never worked in retail before, I'd never done anything like that. And I knew what I wanted to happen inside the space, I just didn't know what we were going to sell. And so it ended up being yoga. So and the twist name came to me kind of immediately because I really wanted it to be a twist on the traditional feel of a yoga studio. Nice. Twisting is also a type of posture that we do in class too, right? So there's lots of twisting. And then even in our logo, it's kind of it's orange on one side, and blue on the other. And those are kind of I'm from Miami originally. And those are kind of like my hometown colors. And I love the combination of looking at the heat and the cool or the sun and the ocean and all of that kind of space.

Gabriel Flores  6:42  

So bootstrap fundraising, how'd you How'd you do it?

Jennifer Pahl  6:46  

I bootstrapped everything. Saved, saved, some, luckily had had put some away that we had. And you know, it was also 2013, where there weren't as many as much construction going on. So I ended up getting a great commercial construction company that we built out everything from scratch. It used to be Lakeside tan, and before that it was Lakeside video. So if anyone is from Lake Oswego, they would know where those two are. So we moved right into that space, they're still like, in the in the back room, it still had stuff about Lakeside video, and Lakeside tan. So it's kind of it's kind of funny to see, you know, that kind of history of went from like, little video store to a little tanning Studio, you know, to a little yoga studio.

Gabriel Flores  7:34  

So what what you mentioned, you know, when you started this, you did everything yourself for the first two years? What were some of those initial hires? That you made? The beginning, you're finally like, you know what, I think I can I can do this. Let me let me bring some people on board. Yeah,

Jennifer Pahl  7:49  

I'm definitely I believe in the hire slow fire fast. And I took me a long time two years to hire someone. And I also, you know, one of the mistakes I made and I continue to a little bit struggle with this is, since I did do everything, like I do everything kinda sorta good. You know, and I'm trying to really decide on which things are my my magical sauce that I should be spending time on and not spending time on. And luckily, I had a great teacher who was one of our teachers that also was familiar with the software that we use in the back office. And she was also a graphic designer. So she was the first person I hired and she was kind of dual. So she did, she taught a couple days, a couple of classes a week. And then she also did that kind of stuff on the side. And so that was a great way to have kind of a first hire.

Gabriel Flores  8:39  

Nice. Now, do you have Did you ever have a moment with twist yoga of like doubt in the company or self doubt in yourself?

Jennifer Pahl  8:48  

I'm just 2020 the entire year.

Gabriel Flores  8:52  

How has that been for twist yoga?

Jennifer Pahl  8:55  

Oh my gosh, that's a that's another loaded question. Ups and downs. You know, it's, it's, it's been really, really difficult year. So we celebrated right at our seven year anniversary. And so February of 2020, I was our very, very best year of being open. I had had, I had hired two other new people and really felt like everything, all of the processes that I had put into place. Were all lining up. It just I mean, it wasn't our most, most profitable year or month. But it was just one of those months where you could see all of that work that you had put in was really starting to make sense. And then we know what happened. So luckily, in 20, in 2018 2017, we started creating twist yoga at any time, which is our online classes. So I got to a point after owning the studio for about three and a half years, maybe four years, everybody was asking me Oh, you got to open up a second location and third location a fourth Question. And I looked into that quite a bit. But I have a lot of friends who have multiple locations of their businesses. And I just for me, personally, I didn't want to be driving around from place to place, only dealing with staffing and not really being, you know, hands on on my business. So I decided, instead of opening up multiple physical locations, I would just go virtual. And no one else in the area had any kind of virtual classes. So I thought, well, we'll start recording, we record to what we were at that point, we were recording twice a month, I built a little studio in my basement where we could have videographer come and record. And so luckily, when we closed down in March on March 16, we already had about 250 classes that were recorded, and people were already using. So we did have that ready to go. So we were kind of a step ahead there. But you know, being open and closed, and you can have this many people or you have to wear you have to wear a mask or you can have you know, I don't know, it's it's just been a very challenging year. Yeah, I

Gabriel Flores  10:59  

would imagine so. So how did you convince your target consumer to use that service, use your online service.

Jennifer Pahl  11:06  

So luckily, since we already had it for two years, as part of our membership, if you had a membership at the physical Studio, you also had a membership of the virtual. Now, granted, probably only maybe 25% of the people used that in the good old days. But then when they were forced to go and not be in studio, we had those ready, we did quickly, we were able to quickly pivot within two weeks to zoom classes as well. So you can have that live accountability and see the teacher and see the other students. And we continue to offer that. So right now we're in studio, and we're hybrid completely. So people can either be in studio or at home for all of our classes.

Gabriel Flores  11:45  

So where do you see twist yoga in five years? Do you see kind of a hybrid of this what you're doing? Do you see in person coming back? What do you think?

Jennifer Pahl  11:52  

I think that I think what's going to happen is if I could look into my crystal ball, I think that once people are comfortable coming back in and we have more people vaccinated and the numbers go down, I think there's going to be a big drive to get back in the studio, because we're craving that. But I do think that there will always be some students who are either traveled for work, or they you know, because we used to have a 5:30am class every day of the week. And that was a very busy class. Because if you worked, you would get up you go to class, you you know, go home, you shower, and you could get your day started. So I do think that maybe those those there will be certain classes and maybe those maybe the noon classes where it's just more convenient for people. For example, I was set to go to the 930 in studio class today and my morning ran crazy. So I could just register for the Zoom class and just take it right there. Now it's not the same vibe, you know, my dog ran over and I had a little thing of flowers spilled the water across my entire computer. So then I had to like and that reminded me that was like a perfect example because I thought, Oh, see, you know, it's so nice to be able to take it at home and then five minutes into the class. disaster happened. You know, so it's, it's I think it's going to be a combination.

Gabriel Flores  13:06  

Yeah, dogs gotta love them.

Jennifer Pahl  13:08  

Oh, gotta love them. Yes, you

Gabriel Flores  13:09  

know what I must admit, I think one of this this one of the things is pandemic has done was forced us as individuals as humans as business owners to evolve and innovate really, really fast. And even in the healthcare world, you know, that's where I reside in the innovation and healthcare world is just Lightspeed right now. Because it has to you know, it's really amazing. What you know, looking back on everything, what advice would you give your younger self?

Jennifer Pahl  13:37  

Wow, I saw I looked at that question, and I don't have any business regrets. I think that every single thing that I did, I did for a reason I did the best I could at the time and I learned from it so I don't have any anything that I would personally give myself but I do I work as a consultant now for people who are either starting yoga studios or own another type of studio and they want to add the yoga mobility into it. So I've lots of advice I can give them lots of a whole list of dude you know, don't make the mistakes I did so but I do think that like you really have to evaluate where you are. And for me being bootstrapped I never wanted to go into debt I am not a big debt person. And so I really wanted to be careful on my steps but but that's just you know, my my adversity to debt some people are a little bit riskier there and they're willing to hire quickly or kind of like take it go all the way so I you know, I have a lot of advice on specific things for people but I don't have anything that I think I would have a regret because it all everything steps into the next.

Gabriel Flores  14:46  

So let's let's talk about that a little bit. Let's uh, what maybe like one or two nuggets would you give the people at home? I don't want to sell the farm. I don't want to sell it. Oh, it's awesome firm but give them one or two nuggets.

Jennifer Pahl  14:57  

Yeah, I just think you know processes, processes processes, I feel comfortable in a process. You know, when you have a process in place, if you're gone, or you go on vacation or you're sick, making it easy for someone else to step into it. So the earlier that you can set up processes, the better because it's hard to kind of backtrack on them. And they don't have to be fancy, it can be a Google Doc, where you just kind of lay out this is how I set up a Facebook ad, or this is how I substitute for a class. And I also think that that's a great thing to give when you when you're doing it yourself just to document it so that when you hire people, you can hand it to them. But then giving them that accountability and flexibility and creativity, to make the changes to it, they should own that document. Because chances are they're going to find different ways to do stuff that's better than you are. So just having that living standard operating procedure for as many things as you can even just like, you know, having a document when when people give you good reviews or feedback so that when you're creating some, some of those testimonials, you have them all in one place. It's such a silly thing. But the sooner you just get that stuff up there, it makes it so much easier. Yeah,

Gabriel Flores  16:11  

creating your own portfolio is really big, right? It's definitely a how do the listeners at home if they're interested in either in twist yoga, get some classes in or even your consulting firm? How do they get ahold to you?

Jennifer Pahl  16:22  

Sure. So our website is twist dash We're on Instagram, and Facebook and YouTube and all the things. So you can find us there via the websites. And that's twist dash And then you can also find me on LinkedIn for all of my consulting work. And it's just Jennifer Paul. P H. L. Very confusing. Yes, thanks. So my husband and I went from Jennifer Carter, which everyone can sell to power you will, too to all the pronunciations almost everyone puts my name wrong.

Gabriel Flores  16:54  

I asked how to pronounce the last question. Yeah, would you do it again?

Jennifer Pahl  17:00  

Oh, my gosh, I would do it again, in a heartbeat. I love I love being able to see people I love being able to walk with people on a wellness journey. And I just like I just like the connection that that is fueled there. And I like thinking about all the myths that people have about yoga. You know, you don't have to be flexible. It doesn't have to be a woman in Lululemon clothes, you know, you don't have to be able to touch your toes. Like all of those things. Yoga is an actually the word yoga in Sanskrit means to yoke or to connect together. So I love just connecting what yoga is in the big sense of yoga, like with the capital Y. And just kind of challenging what people imagine it's going to be like,

Gabriel Flores  17:44  

love it. Love it. And I do yoga as well. Great, and I can touch my toes. Now. It took me like years, but we can get there. Jennifer Paul, thank you so much for joining me on the shades of entrepreneurship. For those at home, please visit twist yoga and Lake Oswego. Thank you and good night.

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