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Community Highlights: Meet Sarah Ingram of Grassroots Yoga

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Ingram.

Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
Since my last interview in 2018, so much has happened! Four years later, we have grown extensively. Business gained a lot of traction from 2018 to 2020, and then the pandemic hit. This was by far one of, if not the, most challenging points in my personal and professional life.

Since the pandemic, we have had an opportunity to expand! Next week, we will be taking over the suite directly next door to us and adding on almost double the square footage. We will be expanding retail, creating a whole new lounge experience, building a new practice space that will be unheated (our current space is heated), and adding more staff areas. We are also building in a massage/healing space so folks can get treatments before or after class. This new expansion is expected to open up toward the end of the year or early next year. We are really looking forward to inviting more of the Ventura community into our little home we call Grassroots Yoga.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
We’ve been blessed by rapid growth in our first year of business leading up to current historical revenue, surpassing financial milestones exponentially. Of course, like many, pivoting during the pandemic was by far our most challenging time for us as a small business.

When the business shutdowns occurred, I happened to be 7 months pregnant with my first child. I remember sobbing hysterically in the shower when the governor officially closed down all businesses. I was paralyzed and so lost on thoughts, and absolutely terrified of what would become of my beloved business and all of the staff and students within.

As soon as I learned that the fitness industry was going virtual, I jumped to action. The next day I began working with my team on producing on-demand videos with our instructors. We were filming all day and at the same time figuring out how to get our videos onto a platform that supported our members with paid passes. It was the steepest learning curve I could ever imagine. My team and I went from knowing absolutely nothing about virtual yoga to running our entire business off of it, in just a few week’s time. None of us had experience in the virtual fitness world, and suddenly our entire lives depended on it.

Grassroots Yoga also has a fairly substantial retail boutique, so we had TONS of inventory to move. In addition to our virtual classes, we also learned out to sell our items online through our website. We would have social media sales, IG live sessions, and product spotlight emails to push as much retail as we could to keep our cash flow going. We offered free curbside pick up and delivery.

On June 2nd of 2020, I gave birth to my son via C-section. One week later, I was back at my computer working all day to continue shifting the business model and make sure we were riding everything out as smooth as possible. I would literally breastfeed my new baby while working one-handedly on my computer. Not exactly how I imagined my postnatal story, but it uniquely bonded me and my son and brought me joy in the most unconventional ways. He was such a bright light for me during such a dark time.

Once we were able to offer outdoor classes, we added our in-person schedule back as an offering at a local park close to the studio. We had a large tent and fencing, we decorated it with lights and flowers, and it became a really special place for us over the next year as we all navigated the pandemic. It was a true sanctuary for our staff and clients to escape the chaos of the pandemic and politics at that time.

With our virtual and outdoor classes, online retail shop, as well as MANY of our members choosing to continue paying their memberships without taking any classes in return, we prevailed. Eventually, we made our way back indoors and over the course of now two years, slowly made our return to our original business model. I am forever grateful for the support we received during those hard times. I believe the truest test of a community in a business is during hardship. You really get to see who is going to show up for you. I am simply blown away by how our staff and students showed up for us. We all held each other tight and worked our butts off to save the business and save our little Grassroots Yoga family.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As I noted in the previous interview, Grassroots Yoga is really more than just yoga. We are an extremely tight-knit community. We are family! Our staff and students are extremely loyal.

Currently, we offer mostly heated yoga via infrared, which is incredibly healing for the body. The classes we offer range from gentle and relaxing to energetic and strength-based. One of our newest classes on the schedule this year is Sculpt Power Flow, which incorporates light weights into an hour-long yoga session. This class offers cardio bursts as well, so you are really getting a great all-around workout. When this class is coupled with our relaxing Yinfusion class, which is performed laying down or sitting, you really get such a wholesome practice in both body and mind. We also offer everything in between, which allows our students options depending on what they need that day or time in their life. Our students range from young to old, experienced to brand new, men to women, all shaped and sizes. We are here to meet everyone where they are on their own personal journey.

Coming next year in our new practice space, we will have a fully unheated yoga class schedule, which will also include more workshops, teacher trainings, and unique events.

Besides our 5% give back program, where we give 5% of our revenue to local charities in the community, we are proud to say that we are known for our exceptional customer service and clean space. Our standards are extremely high and my staff works extra hard to make sure we are taking care of our guests whether it’s above and beyond help with account issues, setting up a clean and organized experience for them each and every time, or simply checking in with them to see how they are personally. We genuinely care about our students and see them as individuals rather than a group of people or numbers on a sales report. One of our top priorities is to know all of our students’ names by heart.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
My entire staff, who supports every decision I make, is to thank over these last 4-5 years. Some of my employees have worked for me since day 1 and they will forever be extra special to me. A few of my staff members have gone so above and beyond that, I could never thank them enough. They’re so reliable, so loyal, and so kind, and so giving. They deserve the world.

My family has also been extremely supportive in my career growth. They’re always helping me out in any way that I need and constantly building me up to feel confident enough to tackle any challenge that comes my way.

I’d also like to give credit to the three investors that trusted me when starting this journey. Yoga studios are really challenging to run and extra challenging to make profitable. They supported my vision and mission enough to invest their hard-earned money in me and I am honored for that. I am happy to report that in December of 2021, I officially bought out my last investor and become sole owner of Grassroots Yoga. It was a momentous year for all.


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Image Credits
Nicole Wise Photography, Mario Fuentes Photography

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