Initially, Marcela Hughes wanted to open a yoga studio in the Washington D.C. and Alexandria area. When she researched the market, however, she realized she was about 10 years too late, with many studios surrounding that location. But she couldn’t shake her passion for yoga.
Instead, she opened Marcela’s Yoga Boutique, a storefront for yoga and mindfulness — offering all fair trade products such as yoga apparel, candles, shawls, yoga-inspired sculptures and art, and many other products. Recently, she started offering private yoga sessions and one class open to the public each week, taught by her or other local yoga instructors.
Ultimately, Hughes said she does not want to take away from yoga studios in the surrounding area, but support them through her storefront — which Mariless Gutierrez said is the same mission as the boutique in the Jivamukti Yoga School in New York City.
“The Boutique is an extension of the Jivamukti philosophy and supports the lifestyle of the community,” explained Gutierrez, the boutique manager and buyer at the yoga school.
Two years ago, the studio underwent a full renovation to incorporate the boutique. Now, through that space, the studio sells private label apparel, skin care products and yoga accessories, all of which create a “destination” at the studio. “Jivamukti students enjoy the fact that they not only practice but also get to purchase products that appeal to their lifestyle. Jivamukti has become a destination in New York City because of what we offer our students,” said Gutierrez. And she explained students who drop in can walk away with a memento from the studio.
But that doesn’t mean studios can buy equipment, sell it through the space and expect to curate an additional revenue stream. Gutierrez said there needs to be an understanding of the target market, so the boutique can offer products students want. “Understand the needs and the lifestyle of your customer. Manage your inventory well and make sure your products are always relevant to your students,” she said.
Which is why Hughes only offers fair trade products. She said that branding allows each product to have significance, and she can explain to shoppers where the product came from and its intention. “Authenticity is very big in my book. Depending on the studio owner and what they feel they’re trying to portray for people walking in, thinking it should come from an authentic place. For instance, what is it that I want to represent? Or what is it that I am passionate about? And then people, when they come to your studio or your business, they feel it matches the person behind the business,” said Hughes.