An open letter to our yoga community about our current challenges and the future of the studio!
Hello, I am Irina Walton, the founder of Truth In Motion Yoga studio in Johns Creek and Braselton. I had a crazy idea to try and open a yoga studio in Johns Creek back in 2014 and after 5 or so years of hard work, a strong yoga community was formed! I remember the long first 6 months where I taught every class and slept in the car between the morning and evening classes! A lot has changed since then as we grew, and we have brought in many wonderful students and instructors over the years. I also now have an 8 month old and a 3 year old (in case you were wondering why I haven't been around as much!) We grew and have been providing a friendly and welcoming environment and secure place to practice for all the yoga practitioners who crossed our doorsteps for years. We pride ourselves on being one of the most accessible and affordable yoga studios not just in Georgia, but in the country! And then Coronavirus came along and changed everything...
Everyone is being challenged during these unprecedented times. There are something like 27+ million unemployed people in the country right now and that number is increasing. Millions of small businesses are going out of business. My husband and the families of our instructors are impacted just as many of yours have been. Two months ago, following state and federal guidelines, we closed the doors to ensure the safety of our teachers and practitioners, and moved to live streaming a full schedule so that we could continue to provide access to everyone so they could continue practicing yoga from the safety of their homes. Only a few weeks ago we re-opened our doors for a limited number of classes while continuing to social distance and take precautions within the studio. We are incredibly happy to see some familiar faces again start to come back out!
However, the reality for us (and many, many other small businesses) is such that revenue and savings are largely wiped out due to months of closures and slowdowns. Truth in Motion Yoga, being priced affordably, has a fairly small profit margin compared to other studios. Most of the businesses in the plaza have been put in a position where leases are untenable because with mass unemployment and most people simply not as active outside the home as they used to be, revenues simply aren’t going to be what they were pre-Coronavirus for a long time and going back to normal operating costs puts many underwater. With time, we will adapt and overcome this scenario but time is something we are being pressed on as our landlord is asking that we resume our lease and pay back previous months when the lease was on hold from the shutdown. All this comes when unfortunately, our membership base and attendance has shrunk significantly due to the Coronavirus and the personal and economic challenges it represents. We understand that the landlords are put in difficult situations as well as tenants like us are struggling to return to 'normal' but the requests of our landlord in John's Creek has not been very realistic or helpful. We all need time to adapt and work through the current environment.
To be clear, we are not closing the studio, and have no intentions to do so but we are struggling. We are looking into some creative solutions for making sure that the studio can continue to survive a protracted down-turn.
So, as a result, we are asking for a couple things from our community, if they are able. 1) Attend classes when you are comfortable and able to do so. At the end of the day, a thriving, busy studio makes everything else easy! It encourages the instructors and also encourages people to return in the future. We will continue to sanitize and structure classes responsibly to keep the environment as safe as possible and 2) the big ask, if you want to help the studio financially we have added a donation button to the website so that we can attempt to pay our lease forward and build up reserve funds for instructor payroll. Our goal would ideally be to proactively pay off our lease through the end of the year which would hopefully have most things return to normal or at least see a positive trend begin to return. Our annual lease, not including payroll, is approximately $40,000 so any bit would help.
This is not something that we suggest or request lightly. If you do consider donating know that 100% of your donation will go to purely offset studio operating expense which is lease and instructor pay. If you have any other creative suggestions or solutions for our current situation I'm very open and willing to talk if you call the studio directly. We will continue to update our community about our progress and once again thanks to all of you for participating in our studio and community!