That's why we created Perkville Influencers, where we interview the top business and marketing experts in the yoga, health, wellness, fitness, spa, salon, and retail spaces.
Today, we chat with Jennifer Barcelos – CEO of Namastream, an online tool for yoga teachers and studio owners – all about taking your yoga business online and the future of the wellness industry.
Give us a little background on who are you and what you do.
Namastream is a virtual studio platform that allows yoga teachers, studios, personal trainers, gyms, and other health and wellness businesses to take their teaching and coaching online.
I'm an attorney, a yogi, a mother, and an entrepreneur. I'm the co-founder of the Namastream software platform and the Soulful MBA community.
When were you first introduced to yoga?
I was first introduced to yoga as a child at home (my mother had books with yoga photos and sequences), but I developed a regular practice during college, when I spent a summer in Asia and began study at an ashram in Kathmandu.
How did you decide to start an online fitness tech company?
You can read the full answer here :-)
What was your first experience working working with yoga teachers and fitness instructors?
My first experience working with yoga teachers was as a student, then in teacher training, but I didn't develop a professional relationship to teachers and trainers until I launched the beta version of Namastream in Fall 2014. I had such a positive experience getting to know many of our initial clients. I did the first few hundred software demos myself, and I'm so grateful to now call some of these first clients my friends. They taught me so much about the business side of running a yoga and fitness studio!
What’s the #1 thing that new teachers should keep top of mind?
In terms of business, I think that teachers need to acknowledge that they are selling something and that they are worthy of being paid for their services. There is a legitimate exchange going on when students actually pay for something. You're worth it!
What did you wish you knew then that you know now about the fitness industry?
This isn't really about the fitness industry, but more about business in general. I wish I had know that it would be a long game – that it takes time to scale and grow a company. I think that I expected there to be a viral element to it. I can say after 2+ years, though, it is well worth the wait. You have to show up everyday and do your best and you will start to see the results accumulate. (It's really the same for anything in life, right?)
What do you think is the hardest thing for yoga teachers right now?
Everyone is different, but in general, I think that marketing is the hardest aspect of business for most of our clients. If you asked me this question a year ago, I would have said technology (websites, videography, etc.). But over the past few months, I've seen more and more clients coming to us who are comfortable enough with the technology side of things (maybe because we have produced so many tutorials all over the Internet, haha), but really needing help with marketing and selling what they've got.
What can they do to make that easier?
Get help. We've created the Soulful MBA program and community to help wellness professionals master the art of sales and marketing because of this massive need we've witnessed, but there are many other programs and coaches too. If something isn't in your unique zone of genius and you feel frustrated, take a class or hire someone to help you out. You might be able to trade yoga classes or personal training sessions with a client who's a social media whiz or a Facebook Ads expert. Get creative and get help!
What is the best part about running a company that works with yoga teachers?
I love everything about it. Our clients are incredible human beings. I love taking classes from them on our platform and I love reaching out for advice on any wellness issues I experience personally. We have a free Facebook group and every Wednesday, our community posts their tips for staying healthy and balanced. It's like a gold mine in there!
What's the #1 piece of advice you have for other fitness businesses?
Go online. Get ahead of the curve. It's where wellness is going (along with everything else). Online work will never, ever replace in-person work in the health and wellness sector, but it is an important complement. Students and clients are starting to expect your presence online, so make sure you deliver what they're asking for!
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