This is the forth post in an ongoing series we’re calling “Entrepreneur Spotlight” where we get the chance to speak with entrepreneurs and listen to their stories. Here we feature Heather Camlin and Kristi Fox of Coco Yoga. You can check out their EquityNet profile here.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
Heather: Passion. Coco Yoga was a place we wish existed. As single moms, Kristi and I love smoothies, yoga and dancing, but don’t always have the time to enjoy them. Smoothies take time in the morning and we dreamed of a place to get one on the run. However, in our part of South Carolina, the only on-the-go food options involve heavy amounts of grease and chemicals. We also don’t have time to go to the gym after working 8 hours and have little ones that depend on us. Coco Yoga is a place we can go with our kids and all enjoy a fun workout. We’re not just dropping them in a gym ‘childcare’.
Kristi: I recently overcame a few struggles in my life and in doing so; I gained a confidence realizing that I am capable of much more than I ever gave myself credit for. It made me realize that I don’t have to settle and I can create the life I desire. Dance was a passion I always wished I had time to do more of and recently I discovered a love for yoga and experimenting with fresh smoothies. Being a working mom, finding time to do anything of these was near impossible so I decided to create a way it could exist not just for me, but for others who wish to bring the joy of dance and laughter back into their lives without having to take away time from their family. It just so happens that luck was on my side as my best friend of 18 years had the same passion and I feel incredibly lucky that we get to go on this journey together.
What was your mission at the outset?
Heather: To share our passion for health and alternative fitness with our community. We found the amazing benefits of real foods (and coconuts LOL) and we wanted to share it!
Kristi: To help strengthen families, relationships and health through fun and laughter. It’s about eliminating all the clutter in our lives and to bring people back together. We can get so caught up in everything we feel we need to do that we often forget about taking time to have fun and can neglect some of our relationships. By combining a place where people can have fun, while improving their health and spending time with their families it makes it easy to make this a priority again.
Does your company help the community where it is located?
Heather: We are in the process of opening our doors, but a huge part of our business plan is joining forces and cross-marketing with other local small businesses. We are also working with our local unemployment office and partnering with SCWorks.org to help put people back to work.
Kristi: We are still in the process of getting our doors open, but helping the community is one of the driving passions behind the business. Besides offering jobs, we will have a lot of community and charity events and are even discussing starting a charity of our own.
What kind of culture exists in your organization?
Heather: FUN. We are all about fun!!
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Heather: We have to make sure everyone in our community knows about us, from mass mailers to gaining a following on social media, we are making sure our name is known. Once we open, video marketing will be a big tool for us. Anyone who sees how much fun a Jazzercise, Salsa Fitness or Line Dancing Fitness class is, will be in to try!
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Heather: The response from our instructors. We sought out the best of the best in our area, and every single one has been over the moon excited and fully on board. But the day we open those doors… I’m sure that will be it. See we’ve taken the time necessary to thoroughly plan out our business. Ensuring we have our bases covered and multiple revenue streams to be successful. We believe in the Proverb, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
As a child were you exposed to any entrepreneurial influences?
Heather: My father owns a small business and I’ve watched him grow. He picked up our family when I was 3 and moved across the country to start his business. I’ve worked for him for the last 5 years taking care of the bookkeeping and witnessed first-hand the ups and downs.
Kristi: I was not, so this is a surprise to me that I have this desire! For a while I followed in the footprints with working for someone, but at some point I guess I just felt I was walking the wrong path and it was time to take my own lead.
In today’s economy, how important is it that a person attend college to be successful in business?
Heather: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I don’t believe college is as important as it used to be. I went for ten years, and all I gained was debt. I’m doing nothing in my career that has to do with what I went to school for. If your passion is to be a doctor, then it’s absolutely important. But if your passion doesn’t require a specialized degree… then don’t waste the time or the money.
Kristi: I think it really depends on what it is the person wants to do. For a specific career, a college degree can be helpful. However, those with an entrepreneur spirit could benefit just the same, if not more, from real life experiences. I personally have a bachelor degree and feel like I have learned way more self-educating myself than I did through college. However, I feel without that piece of paper, the doors to land my first job in the field wouldn’t have opened so easily.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Heather: Watching people go about life in a trance and never actually experiencing the full depth and width of it. I want to wake people up and honestly, when do you feel more alive than when you’re dancing??
Kristi: Excuses. If you know the excuse, then you know the obstacle that you need to overcome to make it happen. It drives me crazy to hear the same excuses replayed over and over.
How do you deal with increasing competition in your industry?
Heather: Luckily, we don’t have much competition in our local area. But what separates us is our broad offering of classes that appeal to all ages and stages in life. Most gyms or fitness studios limit themselves to one thing. Ballet fitness, yoga, hot yoga, belly dancing, salsa/ballroom or solely offering kid classes. Businesses devoted to one type of class offering. We are bringing a new way to experience all the fads and staples in one place, to all ages, and at a low cost.
Kristi: Competition can be a great thing since it forces you to look into your business and reflect on how it is doing. I can’t personally say how I will handle this since I am not in that position yet, I just hope that if we ever do have increasing competition, my focus will always remain on the values and core beliefs that I want for the company.
How do you define success?
Heather: Success to us would be having our members love coming to class. We didn’t come up with this concept to become millionaires, but to make enough to live and do what we love every day.
Kristi: Success to me is living in the present moment. Waking up each and every day and knowing that you are doing exactly what you want to be doing and exactly where you want to be doing it. Life is too short to wish it away.
What book has inspired you the most?
Kristi: I have never been much of a book reader, for me, it’s always been music. Music has inspired my emotions and has helped carry me through life since I was a little girl. I don’t have any particular artist or song that has inspired me the most because almost every artist and every song is beautiful in its own story it tells. There are so many I can relate to, that my song of choice changes frequently. In this moment, the song inspiring me (which may change by the time this article is published) is Kelly Clarkson’s “Invincible” because that is how I feel at the moment taking on this challenge.
How many hours do you work a day on average?
Heather: Now, about 14. Until we start the up fit (hopefully we’ll have a signed lease next week), we are both still working our day jobs and working Coco Yoga after hours. I don’t imagine that number will change much after we open though!
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Heather: Leaving the family business was a tough decision. But in the end, we have to do what makes us come alive.
What are your hobbies? What do you do when you’re not at work?
Heather: Greatest part about Coco Yoga, these are our hobbies! Yoga, dance and experimenting with smoothies. And spending time with our girls! I have an 11 year old and Kristi has two, 3 and 6.
Kristi: I love to spend time with my girls who are 3 and 6. We often dress up and dance around the house or have talent shows. I love exploring, visiting new places and trying new things. I love the outdoors, camping, hiking, spending a day tubing down the river or enjoying a good margarita or glass of wine.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Heather: I do. You have to have drive, motivation and passion for what you’re doing.
Kristi: Passion, courage and love for what you are trying to achieve. The more you love and are passionate about something, the more effort you are naturally going to put into it. Those two qualities, with a fearless attitude can achieve anything.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Heather: It’s definitely a strain, but we involve our girls in the planning and they are just as excited as we are.
Kristi: My hope is that it will bring my family closer by allowing my kids to be involved with some of the planning and also being able to take some of the family classes with them. One of the reasons the partner classes are so important is because I know the struggles of not having the time to strengthen your relationships when you have such a busy schedule and how detrimental this can be as it is the reason my marriage did not work out. By offering kid classes during these classes and other adult classes, it offers something different and fun that is also beneficial to your health that couples can do together without having to worry about childcare. Coco Yoga is an environment for everyone’s needs: family, individual and romantic and my hope is that is improves not only my family life, but everyone who comes through our doors.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Heather: Some people don’t have the vision or creativity to start their own business. Or they have the creativity but lack the know-how. That’s the beauty of Kristi and myself. We both have what the other lacks, and neither of us could this without the other. Kristi is a creative, outside the box thinker and has the marketing background. I am the analytical, business mind with the business and financial background.
Kristi: Speaking of me personally, I feel entrepreneurs have a more curious nature. They like to know how and why things are as they are which is why it can make it difficult for them to work for someone. They are more of the experimental type and need to be physically active in the development of things, even if it means a lot of trial and error.
Why would an outside investor want to invest in your company?
Heather: An outside investor would want to invest in Coco Yoga to be a part of something amazing. We are starting a new trend in fitness. Aside from that, we are a fully functioning and ready-to-blow-up company. We have the in-house marketing and fully fleshed out branding and business plan. We do not need much from an investor (other than money) to bring them a return. We have a trademark pending, a catchy name and logo and multiple revenue streams. We also have multiple locations and franchising possibilities. An investor is not necessary to open our doors, but to take our vision to the next level.
What made you decide to try crowdfunding?
Heather: We decided to try EquityNet and crowdfunding because it’s outside the box, just like we are.
— Editors Note: Are you interested in contributing to our Entrepreneur Spotlight Series? Shoot us an e-mail at email@example.com ATTN: Entrepreneur Spotlight.