2023 is a year worth celebrating! 20 years has flown by! Our sweet, but mighty business has had many a transition, struggle, and expansion. Love of health, love of community, and the desire to serve beautiful people walking through our doors and see them transform right before our eyes is what has gotten us through.
Many of you don’t know the story of The Posture Project. Over this year, I will share some moments that made us who we are and how we got to this place in our business.
Picture it…2001, Woodstock, Ga.
Shalan began teaching yoga out of our home near Main St. in Woodstock. We moved the furniture out of the living room to hold class and put it back when we were done. She taught four classes a week to local students. We were already doing massage in the sun room of our home and building our clientele.
In 2003, we moved our home to Waleska which was too far for our students and clients to travel, so we decided to start a yoga and massage business outside of our home and call it “Breathe…A Yoga & Massage Studio.”
It was humble beginnings. We jumped in with four feet, no start up money, no business experience, just a dream and a desire to help people.
We rented a small room in an infrared sauna business on Towne Lake Pkwy near Main St. We did yoga and massage out of that 10 x 10 room. We would move the massage table out of the room to do yoga and put it back when class was over. Only one of us could do massage at a time. We could have 5 students at a time.
I remember saying to Shalan, “This set-up is backward. There are 4 sauna rooms in this office and one yoga/massage room.” I think it should be the other way around! Being in that space taught me the amazing benefits of infrared sauna and inspired us to eventually purchase one for our office.
And here we are today with the set-up the way I envisioned.
In 2004, the place we were renting with the saunas closed down and we were again looking for a new space. We found a 500 sq ft space located just a couple of blocks from our first place, on Main street in Woodstock. This space was in The Johnston Building across the side street from the pharmacy in the back. Back then, on the other side of Main Street, were giant 100 year old trees that nurtured the energy of that area. I always loved to drive in to work and see them in all of their glory standing like gentle guardians of love and support akin to kind and patient grandmothers.
Our little space had two rooms and a closet. The back room was a large massage room with plenty of space for storage of our massage linens. We turned the closet into an office. We had a computer sitting on one of the shelves and a filing cabinet squeezed in the back. We held our yoga classes in the front yoga/ reception room, which was about 260 sq ft, and we could squeeze in 9 students and one teacher per class.
When we both had massage appointments at the same time, we’d set up a massage table in the yoga / reception area room and put privacy screens around the massage table. The building had two bathrooms to share with all of the tenants. It was a cute, cozy and quaint little space with high ceilings. This is where Breathe…A Yoga & Massage Studio started establishing her roots.
It was then that I decided to quit teaching massage and commit full-time to building a business with Shalan. She shone at creating the structures needed and I shone at advertising and as a visionary. We were teaching ourselves how to run a business. Our business started to grow. Our yoga classes got consistently full and our massage books started filling up. We could feel the expansion in the air.
There was another buzz around us, a real estate buzz. Across our hall, the Woodstock Downtown Development Authority set up base. I would walk over on my breaks and chat with the head of the DDA. He was a young guy with a lot of ideas and a big dream. He would tell me of the future developments on Main St. It wasn’t too long after he got there, that we heard of little granny houses on Main St selling for incredibly high prices. I remember telling him that the real estate market didn’t feel stable. We had playful exchanges back and forth about that on occasion. I did feel a little uneasy.
We stayed in that location for two and a half years. One day we drove into work and almost all the big beautiful trees had been taken down across the street. They were just laying in piles on the ground. Our gentle guardians were no longer there. It was then we knew it was time to move.
Since Main Street was starting to change in an unstable real estate market, we decided it was time to move. So, in 2006, we found a much bigger space at the corner of Trickum and 92. It was a little over a mile from our old spot and was tucked in the back of a building right beside Papa Johns.
This space was a whopping 2,000 sq. ft. It was huge! There were two massage rooms, a reception area, a big 900 sq. ft. yoga room and another room in the back for a future sauna. It even had two bathrooms!
We had made a big leap in terms of size of space and overhead, but we were hopeful. We slowly began to get more traffic through our space since we were on the side street up from Walmart.
Before we knew it, our business was growing. This is when we started offering memberships. The memberships would give clients a discount for commitment, and would offer Breathe…A Yoga & Massage Studio (our original name) a consistent overhead to keep the business running.
We also decided to boost our business by offering workshops and special class series to help support our clientele even more. Eventually, we hired another yoga instructor and a massage therapist. Our business was really starting to take off! I even fulfilled my dream of having an infrared sauna.
The only drawback to this space was there was no washer and dryer. We had to go to a laundromat every week, which became a little frustrating. But, oh well.
We got to meet and help so many beautiful people as we grew and flourished. And some of those people are still with us! You know who you are!
In 2007, we were asked to be a part of Extreme Makeover Home Edition in Waleska. We donated chair massage sessions to the staff, designers, and volunteers on the show. That was a fun and exciting experience. It felt like our business was expanding even more until…
In 2008, after a couple of years at our large, 2,000 sq ft space, the real estate market started crashing. It was a quick and swift motion that had people cinching in their belts for fear of what was happening and/or may happen.
Our business revenues dropped to 50% overnight and didn’t bounce back. It was a scary feeling like having the rug pulled out from underneath you.
Our expensive lease was ending at the end of that year, and we were getting behind on it. Our variable rate home mortgage had increased and was impossible to keep up with the payments, and we had 3 elderly pets who were about to cross the rainbow bridge.
To add another obstacle, we got a thick letter from an attorney in NY stating that we had to cease and desist our business name. It seems there was another Breathe Yoga & Juice Bar in NY that started their business 6 months prior to us that wanted to make sure no one else had that name. I had to laugh at that because there was no way someone would get lost and drive all the way to GA to patronize their competition! Lol!
We had to act quickly to keep our business. I scrambled to find a new location and contacted the NY attorney to please allow us some time to figure out a new business name.
We then decided to ask a dear friend for a loan to help keep our business alive. And, she came through! We did lose our home and pets, but landed safely in an affordable, but nice apartment in Canton. We were so grateful for the support!
With the loan from our friend, we caught up on our back office rent and had enough for a deposit at our next location.
In 2009, we found the space that was just right, much more affordable, and close to our recent location. It was time to rebuild. Can you guess where we landed?
Once we signed the lease for our new space in 2009, we focused on a new name for our business. I wanted the word “Posture” in the name because of yoga postures and postural balancing which is what we do in our massages. We wrote pages and pages of possible names, looked them up in the trademark database only to have to start over.
One day, Shalan popped her head around the corner of the hallway when I was in the dining room and said “The Posture Project”. It was like a lightning bolt went through me. “Yes!” I said and the trademark search showed it being available, so we jumped on the name. It felt like this new start was going to be ok.
Next thing we did was design the studio that we are still leasing. I love designing spaces, so it was a fun project to take on. When we first rented the space, it was just a 1500 sq. ft. open room with a laundry room and bathroom in the back. Yes! We had a laundry room! The space had been a martial arts studio and had thick martial arts pads on the floor to cushion it for the students as they learned their flips, etc… We thought cushioned floors was a great idea to support our yoga students so we ordered new tatami mats for the concrete floors.
The design was done quickly and our landlord got to building out our beautiful space. He offered us a temporary space, a big room for our yoga and next door, a small office for massage. Once the sheet rock was up, we went in and primed and painted our new home. We had friends come in to help which made it even more special.
We had done it. Landed on our feet.
When you change your business name or address, the transition takes awhile, but we settled in nicely as The Posture Project.
2009 to the end of 2010 was a slow rebuild. So many of the small businesses around us shut down. The economy was still very sluggish as we began to rebound from the housing market crash.
We found ourselves again having a hard time making rent, so we spoke with our landlord. We told him we would have to find a cheaper place to move to in order to stay in business. He cut our rent in half. He said “some money is better than no money”. And, since we were only one of two other businesses still in our little strip, we both came out with a win. We give great thanks for our former landlord. He is a kind man and was such a blessing to us.
In 2011, the economy had found normalcy and our business started to grow again. We gained another massage therapist and a couple of yoga instructors. Our memberships increased and the energy felt abundant. There was relief and expansion in the air.
By 2012, our yoga room was filling with most classes and our community was growing. It was so wonderful watching so many beautiful people support us and find their own personal growth through our sweet studio. I believe it was this year that we started our annual Holiday Open Houses. The first year we launched our Holiday Gift Samplers which were a huge hit! It was so fun to be able to help more people take charge of their lives and their health.
To be continued…
Thanks for being part of our amazing community and for ALL the support and kindness you have provided and continue to provide! 20 years of yoga, massage, and well-being look good on you!
Throughout this year of celebration, we will be offering special discounts on our services in appreciation of you who support our beautiful business built with love.