ADDRESS: 834 NE 2nd St, Corvallis, OR
OWNER: Christine Farnandis
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 6+
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1
WHAT THEY SELL: Yoga classes (group/private), yoga therapy
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: To release tension and stress, and improve mobility
When one first steps into the reception area, it’s obvious that Sweet Yoga offers something unique to the yoga scene. The particular shade of teal of the wall feels cleansing, the efficient layout of the room is both cozy and airy. Up a small stair opens the main studio, channeling a mix of calm alertness and an earthy spirituality. Sweet Yoga truly feels like a place where one can focus the mind inward and enrich the soul.
Christine, when and why did you decide to start your business? I started about six years ago. I wanted to teach yoga to help improve people’s health, to help them feel better in their bodies, and to help quiet their minds.
And what first got you into yoga? Back pain, back spasms, mainly due to over-activity and not slowing down and really taking care of myself. So I went to a masseuse who was getting trained in this style and she suggested it.
Tell us more about your services and any specialties. I teach both group and individual yoga classes, and I also do one-on-one yoga therapy sessions. The focus of the yoga that I teach is decompressing the spine, so we go at a slower pace. We use a lot of propping to help meet people’s individual body tensions, so they have something to let go into. It’s a more meditative style, I would say, and so the focus isn’t just on the body, but also on connecting with a deeper part of yourself.
What does being featured as the Local Business of the Week mean to you? It’s a great opportunity to connect with the community, especially people who are interested in sustaining their health along with the health of the planet. It’s just a wonderful avenue to do that.
Do you fill an unusual niche? My niche is definitely releasing the spine to increase health and promote a feeling of well-being. Not that other yoga studios don’t do that, but it’s less a form of exercise and more of a way to let go.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner, and how have you met those challenges? I’d say the biggest challenge is communicating to the public exactly what I do and how it is different, and then keeping people engaged on a regular basis. I try and offer classes at different times throughout the week at different times of day. I teach during the week but also on weekends, so I try to be accessible to people and give them options. I also try and promote a home practice and work with people on that so it becomes a more regular part of their lives. And then I utilize word of mouth a lot so that my students who’ve had experience with this type of yoga can explain it to their friends and family, and that’s very effective.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis, and what does the future hold for independents? I think our community is very supportive of local businesses and likes to be a part of them. So I love it. I get to tailor what I do to the people of this community, and I get to really know them. I feel like I’m a force for good and that feels great. I feel lucky to be able to do that and have people support it, and I think the future is really bright. As long as businesses are meeting the needs of the people, then they’ll have business. It’s a two-way street. By that, I mean that it must be easier for certain businesses than others to keep the ball rolling. But what I do is so personal and hands on that maybe it will be easier for me.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? What excites or inspires you? Again, I like that the community is open to new ways of addressing problems like health. We have a large number of acupuncturists and massage therapists, naturopaths and other people working in the alternative health field, and they’re all supported, which means the people here are open to it. That’s what motivates me to keep trying to offer effective classes and therapy sessions. People do have a lot of options, and so I want to make sure that what I’m doing meets people where they’re at and helps them. So that’s motivation in and of itself.
What is your relationship to the community? Do you participate in any charities or non-profits? I try to be active in the community through volunteer work, but also in staying up on current events and what’s happening. I read the paper every day, I go to Sustainability Coalition meetings, and I have volunteered with Heartland Humane Society. That’s been the main place I’ve volunteered. I’ll always volunteer, and I’m actually in the process of finding a new place to volunteer for myself. Right now I’m actually thinking about being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate).
Do you employ anyone besides yourself? I’m a one-woman-show, so I’m the only one who works here. One of my students has gone on to get teacher training, and she now teaches this style at her home studio in Brownsville.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? Have you taken steps to increase the sustainability of your business? When my husband and I built the studio, we did a lot to create a sustainable, healthy space, from building with straw bale to the plaster that we used in the walls that helps to purify the air, to using as many little scraps and recycled materials as we could for trim or carpeting. For the beams, we used lumber from a 120-year old Oregon barn! To ensure that the studio is as earth-positive as possible, we use blankets made of recycled fibers. There’s a long list of things we did when we opened. And then I encourage people to bike and walk to the studio, and I give alternative transportation discounts. I have a covered bike rack, and I try to position myself in a localized place in town so people can get here easily. And there are other things, but the main focus is sustaining people’s health. What’s ongoing is I’m helping people recover from the stresses of their lives so that they can move on freely and maybe even live longer.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business. One of the main teachings of this style of yoga is that support equals release, and the same idea can be applied to every aspect of your life as well.
(Interview and article by Anya Callaghan – November 29, 2015)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).