On Thursday, November 8, Think Local First and Live Green will sponsor a Locals Unplugged event, From Passion to Profit- How Three Local Women Left Big Box to Start their Own Businesses. The two-hour-long panel will take place at 8 am at Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U Street NW).
Throughout the event, Theresa Watts of Lettie Gooch, Kim Weeks of Boundless Yoga and Yvette Freeman of The Foundry will discuss how they got started, how they manage their successful businesses and where they see their businesses going in the future. The morning series includes a continental breakfast, a speaking session, a Q&A session and networking opportunities.
Tickets to the event are $15 for Think Local First members, $20 for students and nonprofits and $25 for non-members.
On a recent chilly Saturday morning, I found myself in an unusually awkward position. Somehow I’d managed to drag myself out of my lovely, warm bed and get over to one of Kim Weeks’ classes at Boundless Yoga, and I happened to be the most inflexible and inexperienced student in the studio that day. Bent over with one leg straight up and thighs trembling, all I could think was, “I’m not cut out for this. Everyone is looking at me. I should just get out of here.”
“Does this feel scary?” Weeks suddenly said, and for a moment I thought she was talking directly to me. “Honor that. Go into child’s pose if you need to.”
At least a third of the students dropped to their mats, me included. It was the first time since I began practicing yoga that I truly felt unashamed to be “that person” — you know what I’m talking about, the one who, along with the 75-year-old and guy with a back injury, just can’t do it, which is infuriating since I can do just about anything else I set my mind to.
As a former Wall Street executive, Weeks understands the stubborn mentality of the DC professional and is passionate about teaching people to listen to their bodies. After 10 years of running Boundless Yoga (and having two children in the process), she’s more than a professional yoga instructor – she’s a professional DC small business owner.
Borderstan: Why did you decide to open up a yoga studio?
Weeks: I was a recovering corporate executive — on Wall Street for most of my 20s and traveling a lot. I found that yoga was a portable practice I could do anywhere. I moved to DC to expand my horizons, and I was burned out from having this ungrounded lifestyle. DC is full of people who are stressed out, so I decided to open a studio and try it for a year. Ten years later, here we are.
Borderstan: What’s your philosophy on yoga?
Weeks: My philosophy on yoga comes from Shavasana (corpse pose). When I began yoga, I was a girl in my 20s doing marathon training, and I couldn’t believe we were given permission to lie there. It was a profound moment in time where I felt like everything could be okay. Relaxation should be an inalienable right. Yoga is not about perfecting the pose — there’s no such thing as a perfect pose. It’s about experiencing your own definition of yoga. Flexibility is a subjective term. I would love for people to let go of any preconceived notion of what yoga is.
Borderstan: How has your life changed since you became a small business owner?
Weeks: The fundamental change is the acknowledgement that by running my own business I have to make critical decisions on a daily basis that are my decisions only. I had to learn how to do everything while managing people well and maintaining my own yoga practice. I can’t hide. You have to be real in ways that you don’t have to when you’re sitting at a desk.
Borderstan: What’s the biggest challenge of being a small business owner in DC?
Weeks: The hardest thing about doing business in DC is getting through the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). It’s myopic, byzantine and filled with people who are saddled with a system that is not digital enough. It’s unintentionally set up to obstruct a business owner from making simple decisions. It took us three business days to get a permit to put an awning on our building. For a small business, that is a huge opportunity cost in terms of what else we could be doing.
Borderstan: What advice do you have to anyone wanting to start a business?
Weeks: Be clear about how much working capital you need. Know your competition, how you are bringing value to people’s lives and your mission. And let go of any idea that you have days off. Running a business is like having a child in that you are totally responsible for its survival and health in the beginning, and ideally you send it away to college and let others take care of it in the far future.
Boundless Yoga is at 2001 13th Street NW, just north of U Street. Follow them on Twitter at @boundlessyogadc.