Judi Farrell is the owner and founder of Merchant City Yoga in Glasgow. After visiting her studio on a recent trip to Scotland, I interviewed Judi on her bold branding, her advice on increasing workshop and training enrollment, and the best places to practice yoga in Scotland.
During my last trip to Glasgow I was pretty much convinced to visit your studio based on your website alone! Was it always your vision to have a bold, edgy brand?
I’m so glad my website is working as I’d hoped! I just didn’t want to look or sound like every other yoga studio out there. I wanted my website to reassure that regular, everyday people can do yoga. I wanted it to reflect my yoga which is real, no frills and I do it simply because it works. Like all groups of people with a common interest we can get a little bit caught up in our buzz words and jargon so I wanted to talk about MCY in language that everyone can understand. I wanted to show that although we take our yoga very seriously, we have a laugh about it too. I didn’t deliberately set out to be “bold and edgy”, I just wanted it to be different and reflect my down to earth approach and beliefs.
What have you found is the most effective way to increase enrollment for workshops and teacher trainings?
Emails supported by social media activity. And having built relationships and trust over time so that people know what you’re offering will be excellent. I also talk to students. In person. Face to face. Imagine that!
When I visited your beautiful space, I saw a sign that said you were for people who “don’t do Om”. What does that mean, and why is that an important message in your marketing?
It’s a little bit tongue in cheek – intended to be a little bit controversial and make people smile! I also don’t want people thinking that you have to be into chanting in Sanskrit to come along to a yoga class. Of course, the irony is as an Ashtanga practitioner I chant at the beginning and end of every practice!
Where has been your favourite place to practice yoga?
In my own studio surrounded by my students, fellow teachers and practitioners – you don’t need to be miles away in an exotic location to experience yoga. Everything we need is right here.
In your opinion, what’s one thing you MUST invest in when opening a yoga studio?
Yourself! Nourishing and supporting your own practice by continuing to train with your teacher(s) is crucial – without your practice, what’s the point? And learning and developing the skills necessary to effectively and efficiently run your business. It’s a tough business to be in and you want to be doing it better than everyone else!
What was it like transitioning from the last industry you worked in, to beginning a life as a yoga teacher and eventually a studio owner?
Like every major change if I’d realised how tough it was going to be I’d probably never have done it! I thought I was experienced, I thought I had a good plan but there were so many things that knocked me sideways, making me question my confidence and belief. I’ve come to really believe that the only difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that those who succeed keep getting back up and those who fail stay down.
Outside of Glasgow, where can visitors to Scotland find good yoga?
As you’d expect there’s great yoga to be found in Edinburgh and Aberdeen too, as well as lots of other nooks and crannies around the country – on our CYS Teacher Training programmes we train great teachers from as far afield as Thurso in the far North to the Borders in the South and everywhere in between!
If you want to escape to somewhere really special there’s nowhere quite like EcoYoga Centre in Argyll where they not only have great teachers visit but have a solar powered hot tub, a sauna built into the landscape plus two open air baths which are –wait for it– placed at the centre and bottom of natural wild river water falls AND each with natural hot water on tap!
Keep up with Judi and Merchant City Yoga on their website.
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