College towns have their own life, their own unique air about them. As a studio owner in College Park, Maryland, home of the University of Maryland, Kelsey Starr, the founder of Numi Yoga, knew from the get-go she would be adjusting her studio to the area.
Having worked as a yoga teacher in various locations, all near universities, Starr had previous experience to know what strategies she should implement to grasp that college-aged population.
“College students are coming to this point in their life trying to figure out who they are,” said Starr. “I think yoga is this awesome technology to point us to an awareness of who we are physically and who we want to be in the world.”
Before Starr even found her real estate location, she was already trying to make connections on campus. She met with the entrepreneurship coaching center at the business school, which helped create a business plan and also get a little word-of-mouth marketing going around campus.
Starr chose a location for Numi Yoga right across the street from an apartment complex and within walking distance of a lot of Greek organization housing. Starr aimed to be in an area of town that was walkable to campus, but where a lot of the upperclassman student body lived.
“We get a good amount of foot traffic with Greek life neighbors, which tend to be the people who try things out first, and usually in bulk,” said Starr. “We targeted a lot of our early marketing to them by delivering goody bags and information to those sorority houses saying, ‘Hey, bring your group in — we will do a private class.’ That was our big campus connection.”
Because of this early connection with Greek life, Numi Yoga has incorporated a lot of unique offerings targeted to these organizations, as well as other campus communities. In six months of being opened, Numi Yoga has had between eight and 10 Greek Life events.
With Greek organizations required to have a philanthropy they donate money to or raise awareness towards, Numi Yoga has an offering specifically for this. These organizations are allowed to partner with the studio to create classes to raise awareness.
“We had one group come in for an eating disorder awareness fundraiser and they wanted a really mindful-movement and meditative space,” said Starr. “It was great because we could offer them something different than what they usually do for their events.”
Numi Yoga also offers a membership program, where 10 people from a specific organization sign up as semester-long members, and the studio gives 5 percent of that money from the membership price back to their philanthropy at the end of the semester. Starr also hosts free classes each day during the first week of the semester as a way to encourage students to try yoga.
Starr advised it is important for studios in college towns to make use of their surroundings, and the people or students that live there. The studio offers work exchange programs that allow students to come in and help out around the studio.
“Students have done design work for me,” said Starr. “Students have worked on the boutique together, and made really cute outfits to show off what we offer. Students have made social media posts and they do work exchange shifts. Finding people who you trust and being willing to give that mentoring support to them is important. I want it to be our space. I don’t have a business partner, but I can’t do it alone. Luckily I have found people who have amazing strengths to fill in all our details of our studio.”