We are so excited to chat with Kate Davies Durand, the owner of YO BK with locations in Brooklyn and Miami! You can see the full interview via YouTube, and here is an excerpt of our fun IG live chat we had about what it is like owning multiple yoga studios, surviving the pandemic, and great things coming up in 2023!
How long have you been in the location you’re in now?
We opened in 2015 at our Williamsburg location, which is on Broadway and Kent, right by the water and it was just this beautiful, sunny studio. I did a lot of the build out myself. About three years after that, we expanded to Green Point, which is quite a large studio space. We have a big upstairs room, and we also have a basement room where we do a lot of workshops and teacher trainings, and we take care of some of the overflow from busy classes. And this year we opened in Miami in February of 2022, which was a big leap and a very different market, but it’s been a fun challenge.
Why did you choose Miami?
When I decided I wanted to open a studio, I had an amazing mentor, and the first thing that my mentor had me do was choose five different cities and then narrow them down to two, where there was a need for the type of yoga that we were offering, where the studio could potentially be successful. And the two places I narrowed it down to were Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Miami. I ended up living in Miami for about six months and realized that just the way that the city worked, that I was not equipped to open a studio there at that point in time. It’s a city that’s way more intense in terms of regulations permitting architecture build out, which sounds weird, but it’s not logistically as challenging to open a business in New York.
Yeah, I’m shocked to hear that. Quite honestly, I thought New York was the hardest to do and the most expensive it is to do just about anything.
But it’s also the yoga industry that is so interesting because we haven’t quite been regulated in the way that restaurants or even massage parlors have been regulated. So between signing my lease and Williamsburg and opening it was only about 60 days. Whereas Miami, we had ten days between signing our lease and opening.
One of my dear friends who I met as a student in Williamsburg and who helped me expand to Greenpoint, actually introduced me to my husband who was the general contractor at the Greenpoint expansion, and he ended up moving to Miami pre-pandemic. So we ended up with this huge space that has an all day cafe with indoor and outdoor space, a place that people really come to and bring their laptops and stay all day, and they can come and take a class during that time.
Wow, that is amazing, because I was going to say, as a business owner, you can’t be in three places at once. I mean, one business is challenging, three is monumental.
Trying to be in three places at once, and I fail over and over again. That’s kind of the story of my life and the mistake I keep making. I have really amazing teams set up at all three locations. I have a full time manager in Miami who runs the show. I have a really robust sales team. We have a pretty much full time staff in NY that is at the studio to greet students, to support our team, to make sure that it’s warm and welcoming.
It did take a really long time to get to that place. When we first opened, I was teaching 18 classes a week, and I was the manager, the cleaning crew, and the janitor. So it’s been really cool to see how just people coming in the door over and over again can not just change their lives, but it can change the way that a business runs.