Vicky Cullinane, owner and founder of Auckland-based Studio Red Yoga discusses why she set up a yoga business and built the luxury workout space from scratch.
A brief description of the business
Studio Red Yoga is a world-class hot yoga studio that combines professional yoga with beautiful design and spa-like comfort. We started in September 2015, and work out of a purpose-built studio. We run 22 classes per week, with our classes running mainly before and after work hours.
We have a class which starts at 6am and all of our classes are finished by 8:15am, the studio is then closed, cleaned and ready for the evening shift. A casual class is $30, five classes for $135 and an one-month unlimited pass for $200.
What sparked the idea for Studio Red Yoga?
I'd been practising hot yoga for a few years and absolutely loved it.
I tried other forms of yoga but found it just wasn't enough to grab me to keep me coming back a few times a week. I love that you can't be anywhere other than in the room when you're in hot yoga because it's really hard.
For me I'd been practising yoga for a few years and decided to do five-week teacher training course in Koh Sumui, to develop my own practice. Even though I trained as a yoga teacher I knew I would never be at the level of teaching that I would want to learn from, but I knew I could build a studio and I knew that I could run a business.
My thinking was I wanted a beautiful studio, but the focus had to be on the quality of the teaching - it's a practical passion project.
How big is the team?
We have eight teachers, most are part time, two assistants and a studio manager.
Tell me about the process that went into building the studio?
Building our studio was the most incredible process, it was built from scratch.
All of the architects that I had spoken to said the thing people always regret is not spending enough time on the plan, so we had three months to fine-tune the plan.
Studio Red was designed by award-winning Cheshire Architects. It is one of the first local examples of a big-city trend towards contemporary yoga spaces that focuses on design, as well as comfort and hygiene.
My brief to the team at Cheshire Architects was to create a modern sanctuary that felt more day-spa than fitness studio. It has polished concrete floors, discreet lighting, beautifully appointed dressing rooms and large luxurious bathrooms which create a boutique hotel-like ambience.
The yoga room itself has been the main focus. It features fragrant cedar linings, the highest quality mats and flooring, sophisticated temperature-control systems and acoustic controls to maintain the peacefulness of the inner studio.
What design awards has your studio won?
We've won a number of design awards for our studio, including the Red Awards, the retail design awards of the Retail Association (NZRIA), which awarded Studio Red the Entertainment and Service Group winner, winner of Lighting Excellence, winner of Retail Interiors, and also, the Design Institute of New Zealand awarded us a silver pin for design at the Best Design Awards
Always be a client in your own business. It's so important to view your business first and foremost from a client's perspective.
What are your long-term plans for the business?
We're in a really great spot now. We're running at about 80 per cent [capacity] at the moment, so we only have a small amount of growth left. We just started corporate wellness classes which can accommodate anywhere between 15 to 100 people. These classes include yoga and meditation.
Our corporate wellness programmes are targeted at businesses who want to invest in the physical and mental health of their employees.
You're going to launch your own products, can you tell me a bit more about this?
There will be products we can do out of Studio Red Yoga. As the business has gone so well and we're in a really good spot - it's time to expand. Creating a tea range is a natural follow-on from yoga. Personally, I really enjoy drinking tea and it's a lovely way to socialise, so I'm working on developing a beautiful range of teas.
What advice do you give others thinking of starting a business?
You need to be really passionate about your business, because that's what will make it succeed. Equally, you have to be open to dispassionate advice from people who have your best interest at heart and want to see the business grow.
Always be a client in your own business. It's so important to view your business first and foremost from a client's perspective. This will make you accountable and you want to be really proud of the service or experience you're delivering.