Cathy DeFrancesco, Sol Yoga founder

Business As Unusual: SOL Yoga

The owner of SOL Yoga discusses the impact of coronavirus on her business in the 12th installment of this series from LMG

Lifestyle reached out to businesspeople all over South Florida—in categories ranging from retail and real estate to medical and automotive—and asked three questions: How did COVID-19 and the shutdown impact your business; how did you position your business in the interim; how will experiencing this unprecedented pandemic change the way you conduct business moving forward? Today, we check in with Cathy DeFrancesco, owner of SOL Yoga.

 

Business backstory: Founder Cathy DeFrancesco says that discovering yoga changed her life “in the most unexpected and profound ways.” She pays that forward by offering a variety of classes for students of all levels at her popular SOL Yoga studios in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. (solyogaflorida.com)

The impact: “Like most businesses, protecting the safety of our clients and my staff was the important priority when COVID-19 first started to make an impact. We closed our doors at both locations in early March. … Despite the loss in our business revenues, the positivity we’ve received and continue to receive, has been more than amazing. Many of the teachers who work for SOL Yoga have been able to continue doing what they do, only from their homes (see next section). They’ve risen to the occasion, and it’s wonderful to see. Like I’ve said before, you’re only as strong as your team, and my team is like family. Thanks to their dedication, I feel very fortunate in that I’ve been able to pivot the business focus without losing the trust or loyalty of SOL Yoga clients. I know they’re excited to return to our infrared-heated studios one day soon, as is my entire team ready to welcome them.”

In the interim: “My team and I immediately pivoted our focus, asking, ‘How can we support our clients during this stressful period?’ From Miami to Fort Lauderdale, they’ve relied on SOL Yoga as their home away from home to practice yoga and connect with others. No longer able to enjoy physical connection, we focused on creating social togetherness instead. We launched free live yoga classes on Instagram, featuring some of their favorite teachers, along with adding a collection of videos to our website. The response has been incredible. We’ve been able to collaborate with other companies and brands as well, reaching over 100,000 people during any class.”

The future: “SOL Yoga is more than a place to practice yoga. It’s a company committed to giving Floridians the most beautiful, clean and safe destinations to take care of their health and happiness—a place to connect with others, shop our boutiques, enjoy a smoothie or an acupuncture treatment, and more. We will continue to be as meticulous with our cleaning and safety measures, only amplified for greater security and safety. Before COVID-19, we always disinfected our studios using Benefect cleaner and fogger machines. My staff wore gloves when doing laundry or making smoothies. These and other measures will be implemented, including limiting our class capacity, no longer renting mats or props, having staff wear face masks, and other initiatives. We’re going to do everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for our clients. In addition, we will continue to offer online classes and videos for those who prefer to practice from their homes. We don’t want to rush anyone; we’d rather give people options that work best for their schedule and comfort level. Finally, we’re going to offer new incentives with our pricing—not only to reward our clients for their loyalty but because we know we won’t be running full capacity until the government says it’s OK to do so. Combining all of the above, our staff, teachers and clients will be able to reconnect again and get back to the yoga they love and need. … We will never (ever) take for granted the pure joy of practicing yoga together with others in a studio environment! Ah, yes, namaste.”

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