Business Name: Ventura Pop Up Yoga
Business Owner: Jessy Raspiller/Jen Spencer
Type of Business: Outdoor Yoga Studio
Ventura Pop Up Yoga was started almost 2 years ago by friends Jessy Raspiller and Jen Spencer in Ventura, CA. I happen upon their Instagram account a few months back and reached out to them do an interview for our Spotlight on Businesses series.
I immediately wanted to know how they got started with such a fun and brave concept because it started out as a donation driven business and most people starting a business are all are about the "bottom line". It's quite refreshing to see that this not the case with these two business owners as you will see as you read their story.
How did the concept of Ventura Pop Up Yoga manifest?
Jessy - VPUY came to be, very organically. About 2.5 years ago after going through my teacher certification I was required to give 8 hours of Karma yoga classes to an underserved market. I knew my friends would be the perfect candidates as they were always intimidated to try the local yoga studios with me. We started “popping up” at the local parks around my work schedule. It started out as a few close friends, then friends of friends, and now we have sometimes up to 60 yogis at our classes. I didn’t always know that I wanted to teach yoga but I always knew that I wanted others to have the gift of yoga that I felt was given to me so many years ago.
Jen - I was honored to be at the first Pop Up Session and just knew immediately that all of the fun and connections that were being made had to be captured. I found myself filming and snapping pictures to be able to reflect on after class. After arriving home, I started flipping through them and was really drawn to the ease and comfort that reflected on the classes faces. I called Jessy and really encouraged her that I felt there was something to this whole “Pop Up Yoga” idea. She felt the buzz too. We hung up,whipped up a Facebook and Instagram account and organically, the word started to spread from there.
What is the best part about your work environment?
Jessy - The best part of what we do is providing yoga to those that may have never ventured into a yoga class previously. Our outdoor classes have this way of encouraging students to try yoga for the first time. On a weekly basis we end up having several new students that are attending their first yoga class with us. It’s been incredible to feel as though we are making a difference in lives… even if it’s just giving a hard working Venturian that 60 minutes to breath and let everything else go for those moments
Jen - In addition to everything above, ….our “work’ environment is YOGA IN THE WILD! For most of the year anyway. We are out and about in the parks basking in all that Mother Nature has to offer while flowing in our practice. It’s a win-win!
Ventura Pop-Up Yoga co-owners Jessy Raspiller and Jen Spencer and Jen's future yoga instructor. Photo Credit: Society Staff
What is the worst?
Jessy - Accounting… I mean I’m just not a numbers gal. ;) In all seriousness though I think the most difficult thing we do is constantly reinvent ourselves. And to be honest I don’t know that I would even call this the worst thing we do. These things seem like a struggle at times but once we tackle the issues that are thrown our way we somehow come out transformed and better because of the obstacles.
For example one of our biggest challenges in the past has always been housing our outdoor evening classes in the Fall/Winter months. We kept hitting obstacles trying to find an affordable space to rent temporarily. Finally as the stars would align, the perfect location opened up and we realized it was time to create a permanent brick and mortar location to enhance the outdoor options.
Jen - ditto the accounting! Ha! We are getting really good at the art of “pivoting”....it use to be our enemy but now we have fully befriended it!
In the past, not having an “indoor home base” studio really forced us to think outside the box a lot! Where do we meet? Lugging equipment to each class! Or..oh no, it’s raining! We are quick on our feet which forces us to grow and pivot a lot. It actually has really helped grow our business and for that, we will continue to embrace it! Of course having an indoor space now creates plenty of its own pivots.
We're blessed to have opened our indoor studio this past October, it gives us the opportunity to offer so many new classes, workshops,
feature local artists,and the entire space has an overall community feel. We want everyone to feel welcome to walk in our doors.
Photo Credit: Society Staff
Can any level of yogis join a class?
Jessy - Absolutely. Our classes are truly intended for all. Our goal is to make yoga affordable and accessible. We encourage all levels and all ages (minors must be accompanied by adults) to try yoga for the first time or continue their practice both indoors and outdoors. We still offer 60min daily donation classes, but we now offer 75min classes for an affordable drop in rate or monthly membership.
What's the price point to attend a class?
Jessy - While our startup classes have always been donation, we’ve now been able to enhance our offerings through some longer class options. We will always stay true to offering daily donation class options, but our 75 min classes are an affordable fee base. We strive to keep our prices at some of the most affordable yoga in Ventura County. Drop in rates are $14 and our intro monthly membership is $40 for all yoga classes.
Do you see this concept being duplicated in other cities in the 805?
Jessy - We do. Last year we were actually very focused on opening in a new city. But as fate would have it our destiny was to deepen our roots in Ventura. While I believe this will still be a future goal, we are now very focused on enhancing what our studio in Downtown Ventura has to offer to the community.
(l) A space for your things while you're in class (r) The girls office space with craft for an upcoming macrame workshop taught
by Homemade Ventura, one of many community events happening at VPUY. Photo Credit: Society Staff
You will be celebrating your 2nd anniversary in April, what will you do differently in the coming year?
Jessy - As we approach our 2nd Year Anniversary, I don’t know that I would change anything about this process. I think the best part of this whole process is that we had no idea what we were creating and we just went with whatever was thrown our way. However, this upcoming year we will be able to offer so many new things with our indoor space.
Jen and I are blessed to have an incredible team and community that encourage us and bring forth so many ideas and resources. We have been busy behind the scenes scheming and planning. We can’t wait to rollout some incredible new programs and opportunities for our yogis to grow with us.
Jen - This past year was beautiful. I wouldn’t change any high or low about it. It was full of growth & life lessons. Jessy and I often find ourselves scrolling through pictures & posts of the past year and get humbled by every moment. We truly embody community and feel like we are just on the tip of the iceberg with what that will unfold in the coming year. We are planning and partnering with some amazing creatives in our community in 2017. VPUY is a platform to collaborate and highlight so many talented and hardworking individuals, which we couldn’t be more honored to walk alongside in our journey.
Finish this sentence -
I feel most empowered when - I’m creating; that could be teaching yoga or working on new concepts with our amazing team. Jessy
I feel most empowered when - - I’m supporting; others to live their dreams, lending an ear or shoulder, or helping support all of the incredible things are that happening in our community! Jen
Describe yourself in 5 words.
Jessy - dedicated, innovative, passionate, dreamer, authentic
Jen - genuine, creative, enthusiastic, ambitious, resourceful
To find out where the next Ventura Pop-Up Yoga will be held please go to their website www.venturapopupyoga.com or visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/venturapopupyoga.
You can also follow them on Instagram @ventura.pop.up.yoga
Ventura Pop-Up Yoga is located at 83 South Palm Street Ventura, CA 93001