Hi, my name is Aretha, and I am the owner and director of The Iyengar Yoga Center of Nashville, best known in the Nashville Community as 12South Yoga.
We are raising money to help support the building of our new yoga studio, which broke ground in February 2019 and is set to open winter of 2019.
What makes our new location different — and what has compelled me to do a crowdfunding campaign — is that as a business owner, I am now going to own the building that includes our studio space, helping us secure a permanent home to serve our Nashville community.
I am inviting our yoga community to contribute in making this new space a purposeful and beautiful studio space with me.
Funds raised will help us cover the costs of our internal buildout of the new space (including our waiting area, prop storage, hardwood floors, and a custom-built rope wall).
Our new studio will also undergo a rebrand. We will be called Chestnut Hill Yoga, a tip of the hat to our new neighborhood!
History / Background of the Business
We opened 20 years ago this spring and currently have a skilled team of nine certified Iyengar Yoga teachers. While I am the business owner and the steward of this project, I use “we” and “our” throughout this campaign as our studio community is truly the heart of our business.
We are a well-loved studio and staple in our community in the 12South neighborhood. Rising rents and the impending sale of our current building, however, pushed us to re-envision our future.
While we have been growing our community for years and have a well-established student base and reputation in our city, this move gives us a unique opportunity to have a permanent home base, which is really exciting.
For the past 18 months, I researched many options, talked to every mentor and friend I could, and built a solid team to help me chart a new path. I settled on building a new studio — an official Iyengar Yoga Center — in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood near downtown Nashville, just a few miles from our current studio.
Why your support truly makes a difference:
This crowdfunding campaign, and our ask today, is about inviting our community to take part as we put down permanent roots as a center, to recover critical costs, and to help keep our doors open in our first year and beyond.
In our FAQ section of this campaign I go through in more detail the full cost of the building project, how this money will be used, and why we are using crowdfunding as a platform to support our business.
What have you and your team done to help make this project a success?
As a business owner, I am quite literally fully invested in this project. I’m selling my home and will be living in a small apartment above the studio. The sale of my home and leveraging of personal savings gave us the initial investment to break ground and finance our current buildout.
It’s been both thrilling and terrifying to go from being a yoga teacher to a studio owner, and now moving into the role of what I call a “reluctant real estate developer.” Countless meetings with my real estate agents, bankers, financial planners, architects, and designers have become part of my weekly task list for the past year.
While “reluctant” at first, I now am very proud to be both a female business owner and a developer contributing to our community. I paired with a women-run real estate group, the Wilson group, to find a location, and I am working with a local bank that aspires to support creatives in Nashville. A student made time in his architectural firm, Centric Architecture, to lend their talent to our project. My daughter, my sisters, family, students, and friends have given hours of priceless encouragement, enthusiasm, and skills. Needless to say, the support of my community has made all the difference!
Thankfully, while I am the steward of this project, I am definitely not alone in my sacrifices:
This past year, the teachers who work alongside me have made sacrifices in their income to offset the costs of rising rents. My teachers also pay for their own classes and certifications out of their passion for and dedication to yoga. They show up every week to teach motivated by love. That’s not lost on me, and I know that’s not lost on our students. And they are an amazing group that inspires me and have given wings to this leap of faith.
Our students have made sacrifices, too. This year to cover rising rent costs and a frivolous class tax, we’ve also had to increase class prices. I continue to be grateful for your investment each time you walk in our door. You keep us open.
While a permanent space won’t solve for all these financial challenges, it will help us know that we are not going to be at the mercy of landlords or sharply increased costs in the near term. As many native Nashvillians have seen in our aggressively growing real estate market, too many cherished businesses have been forced out of their homes and neighborhoods. Nashville has seen a boom, but it has not always been for the benefit of local businesses and people who make this city so great.
It has been worth it to me to make sacrifices to keep my yoga community together and to provide a studio space for my teachers and students, and it is my great hope that you will find this a worthy cause to support as well.
Yes, I am running a business. But as anyone who has decided to make their living sharing the practice of yoga, our approach to yoga is not geared around how to optimize profits; it is geared around providing the best, most affordable, and accessible experience for our students.
To be able to have the assurance that we’re going to recover as a business from this move is what keeps me up at night. Our crowdfunding campaign is a way for my incredible teachers and me to have our community join us in making this dream come to life and to truly invest alongside us to make this space beautiful.
I share these details because I want my students and potential backers to know just a few of the ways we are doing everything we can as a business to help this new center come into being and why your support — at any level — matters.
Our vision to the future:
I want to make sure that our studio will flourish for many decades to come.
We are so thankful to everyone who has supported us through the years, and we know that it’s a big ask for us to look for donations through crowdfunding — especially with such an aggressive goal of $100,000. But we are going to make this happen, and we are putting down amazing roots once and for all in a wonderful city like Nashville.
Our dream is that the future Iyengar teachers — who may very well be in diapers today — will one day walk through the doors, learning and teaching in our community!
Your gift lifts us up, no matter the amount!
We hope that you as students and those who happen upon our campaign see how important your gift is for our center, so please consider giving what you can.
Yoga is a way of life, and I hope my students will consider giving a contribution to this center as a gift to themselves, a devotion to their practice, and a donation to the broader health and well-being of the Nashville community.
I am also asking that other individuals who are inspired to support women-led businesses consider a donation, too!
As a single woman running this business, I truly understand and appreciate the guidance and support of those passionate about helping cultivate female business leaders. I’ve had an incredible team of mentors thus far, and I am excited to meet other mentors and supporters through this campaign and the iFundWomen platform.
So join us by donating today. There are perks you can choose from, but ultimately we hope you’re driven to contribute whatever you can.
Thank you, and Namaste.