A Successful Business is No Accident
It was an accident in 2012 that motivated Rebecca Elsen to start her own yoga studio, but it’s no accident that her business is a success. In 2016 Elsen was named the Culpeper Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year and was voted “Best of the Best” by readers of the Culpeper Times-Exponent.
Following her accident, Elsen decided to move from Fairfax to Culpeper. “I wanted to go to a place where the lifestyle isn’t so hectic,” she says. The yoga practitioner, who had been teaching yoga since her late teens, soon noted a lack of yoga studios in her new location. “I thought there was an opportunity to bring something I love to a place I’ve grown to love,” she adds.
In March 2015, Elsen paid a visit to David Reardon at the Lord Fairfax SBDC in Culpeper. Elsen was teaching private and small group classes but wanted a downtown location for a dedicated yoga studio. “David was full of great information and gave me tons of tips,” she says. “The SBDC seminars were really helpful, too—like the one on Facebook and social media.”
Elsen’s opened the Pranapiloga Yoga Studio in April 2015. “I was fortunate that I was able to start this business with my own capital, but learning to draft the right kind of business plan was a big help,” she says. The studio offers private and small group classes in yoga, yoga therapy, and Pilates including both land- and water-based environments. Waterbased classes are taught at the Powell Wellness Center pool.
“I like to think outside the box,” Elsen says. This philosophy extends to her clients. Once a month the studio holds a class for persons with mental and physical disabilities. “You have to learn how to work with them,” she says. “One client was afraid to go downstairs, so I sat down beside her, and we scooted down together.”
Elsen’s business model is obviously a successful one. Her staff, starting with herself as the only employee, now includes three karma yoga ambassadors, two meditation teachers, four yoga teachers, and four part-time instructors. Her client database currently includes 230.
“When I opened my business, I felt that if one person showed up, I was OK,” Elsen says. “Teaching and sharing yoga is my favorite thing to do.” As the business grows, Elsen plans to continue her visits to the SBDC. “I don’t have the experience,” she says. “So it’s better for me to lean on people who do.”