Chicago yoga studio is a small business with an inclusive, calm vibe

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Chicago (CBS) – Big Day 2023 is Small Business to highlight the success of entrepreneurs who started small and are working hard to make it big.

CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek visits a yoga studio in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood; The mood was calm, cool and inclusive.

“I wanted people who came in to feel like I’m here. I really like that,” says Julia Perkins, owner and founder of Studio Yogi.

When we come to Studio Yogi on the South Shore, visitors really feel like it’s “your place.”

“He’s friendly, and he feels warm, and his teaching is very calming and reassuring,” said student Daniel Z. Levy.

That’s the feeling Perkins was going for when she opened her small yoga studio last February. She is not just an entrepreneur. She is a pioneer.

“I don’t understand why we don’t have a yoga studio in our community,” Perkins said. “So I decided to have it.”

But moving from that decision to today’s reality was a no-brainer.

“I’ve never done this before. This was new to me,” Perkins said. “I had to get a big financial development guy.”

She also received a grant from the City of Chicago’s Neighborhood Opportunities Fund, which supports commercial and cultural projects in underserved neighborhoods.

“They really support small businesses, they’re really trying to get a guarantee to pursue whatever their dream or business plan is,” Perkins said.

But then, some obstacles.

“It was a little challenging,” she said. “We started construction during Covid, so the supply and demand chain, that’s a real thing. We had to make some strategic transactions.”

But Perkins didn’t just buy studio space. She dreamed big.

She bought the entire building near 71st and Bennett to design a “health center”. After years of mentoring, the timing suits Perkins.

“I said, ‘It’s time for me to do the main thing in my life, when I’ve accumulated enough equity, and this building came along,'” she said. “Therefore, you jumped up and down.”

And her students say she’s helping Studio Yogi move South Shore forward.

“I’ve been doing yoga since I was 5 years old,” said student Kiela Smith. “I’m so grateful to have something less than five minutes from my house that I can come to friends with and that inspires some of what we want and what people want.”

Fellow student Jaceri Elmore added, “I love how inclusive it is. It feels like family here.”

And it’s like a family.

“I want it to be a community space,” Perkins said. “I want people to feel welcome.”

Perkins had some key advice for those thinking of starting a small business: If you’ve never done one before, talk to people who need feedback and input. Have a good business development person leading them. And have a great team by their side, people who are invested in their dreams and visions.

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