Imagine you could have a walking billboard for your studio that would showcase your brand wherever your students went, whether they were out for a cup of coffee or doing their weekly grocery shopping. Well you can have walking billboards, and you don’t have to stretch your imagination far to do so. All you have to do is sell apparel branded with your studio’s logo.
One Down Dog in Los Angeles, California, sells everything to students they’d need to practice yoga and more, including activewear, yoga mats, props, jewelry and accessories. The studio carries brands such as Beyond Yoga, Manduka, Spiritual Gangster and more, much of which is branded with the studio’s name.
“Our students are our best marketing tools,” said Jessica Rosen, the founder and owner of One Down Dog. “[Branded apparel] is an awesome conversation starter and definitely brings people in the door, and keeps people coming back.”
For Rosen, she sees selling apparel as another way to meet her students’ needs. “We work hard to help our students find confidence from the inside out,” she said. “We’ve found that finding the perfect yoga mat, pants that stay put while practicing, and the inspirational gifts we offer can be just the push needed to get on the mat more often, and what’s better than more yoga? Having a retail shop provides an additional means for staff and students to connect, and the added revenue stream allows us to grow as a studio in our offerings and community contributions.”
For Y7 Studio, which has five locations in New York City and one in Los Angeles, offering apparel is a way to offer convenience to students, many of whom have busy schedules.
“From the moment our clients walk in the door, we want them to have an amazing experience, and this includes retail,” said Sarah Levey, the co-founder of Y7 Studio. “We have all of our retail areas set up so the client can browse at their leisure. Shopping before or after a class can be a challenge, since usually the client doesn’t have a lot of time. We try to make it as simple and pleasurable as possible by keeping things minimal and branded.”
Y7 Studio sells both cotton t-shirts and sweats, in addition to sports bras and other items, which can be purchased in-studio and on the company’s retail site.
Like the in-studio experience, Levey wants the online one to be pleasurable for shoppers. “I want [the site] to be eye catching and easy,” she said. “The worst is when you have trouble navigating a site or a bad checkout experience.”
The easier it is for students to shop, the more likely they are to find a piece of apparel they can fall in love with. “We wanted our clients to be able to take their yoga experience with them to the street, feeling powerful wearing an ‘A$AP YOGI’ tank after a super challenging class,” explained Levey.
In addition to being a powerful branding tool for your yoga studio, selling apparel can also pad your bottom line. At Smiling Dog Yoga in San Luis Obispo, California, apparel sales account for an average of 15 percent of the studio’s yearly revenue, and in 2017 they are on track to see that percentage rise to between 20 and 25.
“Retail is actually quickly growing to be in the top-three revenue categories that we generate every year,” said Stephanie Moran, the owner of Smiling Dog Yoga.
Currently, Smiling Dog Yoga sells three brands including Tiki Clothing Company & Apparel, Beyond Yoga and Alo Yoga. According to Moran, this is the perfect amount of brands to manage for a smaller boutique. “What we’re really focusing on doing is streamlining the number of brands that we’re housing, because we really want to center it around being able to feed the right population we already have coming into the studio, and then also to draw in some other demographics,” she said.
Like One Down Dog, Moran also sees the branding benefits of selling apparel embedded with her studio’s logo. “The thing I would remind people of is yes, you’re not going to get a 40 or 50 percent markup on apparel, but it’s walking advertising for your business,” she explained. “You’ve got your brand on someone’s t-shirt, so it’s not just retail in the revenue category, it’s marketing too.”
With this in mind, Moran said it’s vital to ensure your instructors are able to afford the apparel you’re selling, so they too can be walking billboards just like your students. At Smiling Dog Yoga, instructors are allowed to purchase retail items at the wholesale price, so that their point of entry is easier.
“Be sure you have something set up for your staff where they can actually enjoy your apparel and not just drool over it, so to speak,” said Moran.
Finally, Moran advised to train your front desk staff to look at the retail shopping experience as another way to offer great customer service to students.
“If you see somebody shopping at the boutique, you have two choices at the front desk: You can stay behind the front desk and let them carry on their way. Or you can walk [around the front desk] and shop with them,” said Moran. “Getting outside of that front desk and into the boutique to help students with that shopping experience is something we highly recommend. Connect it to the types of classes they take. If I’m in a class where I’m constantly in downward dog and I’m in a flowy shirt that’s going to continue to fall down the front of my body, I might want to tell them they probably want something a bit more fitted for that type of class.”