We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Brooks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I first opened my studio in 2017, I was fueled by a desire to share yoga with the people in my community. After practicing for nearly a decade, yoga had completely transformed my life and I thought if it could do so much for me, others could probably benefit from it as well. Depending on how you look at it, my youth and inexperience were a blessing. I was only 23, fresh out of college, with no idea how to run a business and extremely naive, but I never felt afraid or doubtful that it would be successful. I figured if you put 100% of your heart and soul into it, it will land where it is meant too. At the time, I didn’t have goals of creating a brand or franchising a business, I just wanted to offer yoga to others and hope it helped a few people out by doing so. I never expected it to take off like it did, or to have such a huge community just four years later, but here we are – full studio, full hearts, getting to do what we love everyday. It really is overwhelmingly amazing!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What makes Soul Sweat different from other yoga studios? Well there’s the technical. It is a state of the art, technologically advanced studio. We have a heating system like no other, which consists of infrared heat panels (think sauna style) and humidified steam. We pay immaculate attention to detail. You’ll always find fresh tea and flowers in the studio and little affirmations in every corner.
But what’s more important, it is truly a labor of love. We got to where we are today by putting everything we have into building a safe, clean, judgement free space for our community to practice in. The first year in business, I didn’t take a single day off. Not even Christmas. And in the years since, at most I’ve taken a weekend here or there, but typically I am at my studio every day. And it makes a big difference, having an owner present. If customers have questions, I am there to answer them. When new faces come in, I am there to greet them and I try to remember everyone’s names, even now that we have thousands of students. We don’t treat clients like clients, we treat them like family. We get to know them and we open up our world to them in return. The relationships and bonds formed in the studio are some of the deepest our lives, and we are so grateful.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is to do everything with love. Never get so consumed by the business mindset that you forget that it was first your passion that led you down this path. Put people over profit. Yes, you need to make money to stay alive as a business, but if you lead from the heart, the money will come. Treat people well and do whats right. Follow your intuition – it is usually right! And if there is ever a chance to bet on yourself or someone else, always bet on yourself. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way, so never put your fate in someone else’s hands.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hmmm. If my best friend was visiting the CT shoreline, we would obviously start at my yoga studio! Then we’d head next door to Ashlawn Farms Coffee shop for an oat milk vanilla latte, followed up a walk by the beach! For happy hour we’d hit Saybrook Point Inn for drinks with a view, and for dinner we’d have to do Cafe Routier – it is the best!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The entire Shoreline, CT community. My studio is what it is because they gave me a shot. When I had no experience, no clue what I was doing, they trusted me enough to support my business while I figured it all out. They have literally showed up for me in the biggest and most beautiful way, had faith in me every time I struggled to find it in myself, and allowed me to grow into the person I was meant to be, doing what I was meant to do.