Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessie Kates, owner of SHIFT YOGA, located in Laurel, MD, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

SHIFT YOGA is a self-care yoga studio focused on shifting the narrative around what yoga is and who yoga is for. We offer in-person and virtual yoga, meditation, self-myofascial release, and mindfulness classes centered around self-care for the whole self - body, mind, and soul. We teach classes that support folks in caring for not only their physical body but their mental health, emotional well-being, energetic balance, and spiritual connection. We long to see a wellness industry where everyone is not only welcomed but celebrated. We believe that to be well in body, mind, and soul is a birthright, not an exclusive club. We welcome and honor the lives of all bodies, abilities, ages, identities, races, and orientations.

Tell us about yourself

I have been in the yoga industry for 12+ years. My journey to being a small business owner unfolded from my journey to be well in body, mind, and soul. I personally found a great connection to the path of yoga and the profound insights and renewal I was experiencing, and like many wanted to share yoga with everyone I could. I have always been someone who sees things differently, seeks and questions, and my journey into yoga has been no different.

Over the years, I developed a unique viewpoint I thought my industry needed. So I ventured out to share the practice and opened my own studio. I am inspired and motivated every day to be of service. I am inspired every day to open my heart to support others on the path to a deeper sense of well-being in their lives. Yoga is a powerful practice, but over the years of owning a business that shares yoga in a group setting, I have been blessed to witness the joy of our collective journey and am more inspired each day by the power of community care.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

By far, it has been navigating covid. We were mandated to close for many months and had to learn a whole new way of operating seemingly overnight. It was the most insane experience in every way possible. Looking back over the last two years of operating a business in a pandemic, I will always say it is the hardest battle in business I have ever and will ever endure. But as always, out of that immense struggle have come some profound insights that I would never have gained that have deepened how I serve my community.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

There is never an eloquent way to answer this question. Business ownership is one of the hardest things you will ever do but, at the same time, the most rewarding. I am sure it is different from industry to industry, so for my industry filled with "latest fads and trends," it is staying authentic while continuing to innovate.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. The most important thing is to know your WHY? Once you have that, you will always be guided by it, from the smallest to the biggest decisions you will make; this WHY will guide you.
  2. Get organized and stay in your lane.
  3. Engage and involve the community you are serving. Make your relationship with your community come before the sales goals and numbers on the spreadsheet. Touch base with them frequently and thank them every single day for their support.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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