The Female Focus: Angela Brand
Introducing Angela Brand
From professional dancer to Yoga studio founder with a sprinkle of travel in between. We talk to Angie about the launch of her new studio in Deptford (which we’ve worked closely with her on), why community is at the heart of everything she does and why high quality brand design makes all the difference for success.
Congrats on the launch of The Yoga Room! What was the most exciting part of the process…?
The most exciting part of the launch is moving in! I get so excited when I get some new designs through from Doug, head of the team of architects, and Maddy, brand designer. The thought of stepping into the complete space having made every single decision in the making of is just ridiculous - it's unreal. All of these little decisions make one big concept and finished product. It's been the most exciting part but also the hardest! Decision making is time-consuming and it required more brain power than I'd anticipated!
What gave you the push to set-up on your own and make your idea a reality?
My career path has switched a number of times throughout my working life and nothing ever really seemed to settle me and make me feel completely comfortable. I began work-life as a performing artist, which broke down my self-confidence piece by piece and auditioning left me feeling worthless. So I decided to save up and go travelling and leave the focus of a career behind for a bit. Whilst travelling I supported myself by doing lots of different jobs, which flipped my idea of pursuing any kind of career - the nomadic lifestyle was great and gave me time to just enjoy life - it helped make life my life rather than my job my life! Back in England I started working at a restaurant and although I enjoyed the work and loved the people I worked with, I was working long tiring hours (whilst teaching yoga on the side) and that left me with no life - the complete opposite to what I had been enjoying on my travels. So I decided to take the plunge, go part time in an office to pay the rent and focus more heavily on creating a yoga community.
What is the biggest "failure" or setback that you've pushed through?
My biggest failure was spending too much money on Facebook ads that brought hardly anyone through the door over the New Year period the year just gone. New Years is usually a busy time for yoga studios with new years resolutions setting in but I had failed in connecting to the right people or making a big enough impact.
And what did you learn as a result…?
This was a great learning curve for me - I realised that students are actually more inclined to search online for yoga offers rather than sign up from an ad, which meant I needed to increase my SEO. Facebook ads are still great for creating awareness and you may get a few people signing up from them but new students will mostly go online and search. I think it's a thought-out purchase rather than an impulse buy. The mistake was a blow financially and did hurt me emotionally because, of course, you wonder where you went wrong. But you have to brush it off and keep going - you can really only learn from mistakes!
What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
That Facebook ads are complicated!! It would have been great to know exactly how I could have maximised my budget for ads and SEO. Facebook now hold calls with customers that run business profiles to help talk through what they want to achieve and how best to achieve it within their system.
How important is a community for your business and why does it matter?
My business is alllll about community! I absolutely adore every person that comes through the doors at the studio - they're my kind of people. Maintaining a community matters to me as much as it matters to them. It means that I believe in what I'm doing and I feel happy with where I'm at. I get to know the people, what they want, what they don't want, who they are, where they've come from and it helps me to see their experience from a different direction, not just my own. The feeling of belonging is so important when creating a space that students feel comfortable in and ultimately have come to relax in.
Why was design such an important part of the launch of The Yoga Room?
Having a strong brand design was most important for me because it kept me on track (a track that I didn't know I should have been keeping to until I did! Thinking back - my 'branding' was all over the place and didn't resonate with me at all). Of course, branding and logo design makes the business look great and professional, but that's just the beginning - it also forced me to think more deeply about what I wanted the brand to represent, what my business stood for (all the way down to customer profiles and relationships) and what kind of feeling I wanted to generate in people thinking about the brand. Good design is important in making an impact visually, but also in generating emotion. For me, this is very important. I want students to know that they're welcome as soon as they step into the building, as soon as they see imagery relating to The Yoga Room, and whenever they catch a glimpse of the logo. Think: acceptance, inclusivity, friendship. That's all down to brand design.
What advice would you pass along to anyone looking to start a new venture?
Be ready for the hustle - there'll be long hours and lots of sacrifices (financially and mentally). Be involved and be passionate but also give yourself time to enjoy your life - for me, enjoying life is the most important part of all of this. There's no point in putting in so much hard work if it's making you miserable - give yourself a good work-life balance. Enjoy every achievement, it's so important in keeping you on track (I got that little golden nugget from Jess) I still get a little high every time someone books into a class :) (I also have a spreadsheet of all the good feedback I've received over the years which I like to look back on if I'm feeling a little uninspired!) Stay true to yourself and what you represent, believe in what you're doing and do your research. Talk, listen and respond. Be a friend to your clients and to your staff. People love to help so let them. Don't sacrifice good customer service for more money - good customer service will probably bring you more money eventually but, if it doesn't, at least your customers leave happy and you will be content knowing you've done the best you can.
Photos courtesy of the amazing Amy and Tom from Vivian Birch Photography.
Brand design by Maddy Russell.