Entrepreneurs and COVID-19 - Interview with Karen Kobel of Kalena Movement Studio(No. Vancouver)

Please share a bit about yourself as an entrepreneur and what your business entails - brick and mortar store, online, product, etc..

My studio - Kalena Movement Studio - has been in existence for 3 years now and recently won Favourite Pilates Studio of North Vancouver in the North Shore News Readers Choice Awards. We offer: Pilates Mat, Pilates Apparatus, Yoga, Dance, Kids yoga and Dance, workshops, local events, but most of all we offer community.

The studio is welcoming place where people of all levels can come together to explore, grow and laugh. We celebrate your victories and encourage you in moments of doubt. While pilates, dance and yoga are serious disciplines, when incorporated into your regular exercise routine, it can bring joy, balance and inner peace in your life.

Kalena Movement has grown from one small studio room with 4 Pilates Apparatus machines, to 2 studios - one of which has a beautiful view of Grouse Mountain where we are honoured to hold space for our community of women, men, moms, dads, kids, toddlers, babies, grandparents, elders, and fellow business owners of Edgemont Village. We hold fundraising events in studio for and have been a part of many local initiatives such as: North Shore Women's Centre, International Women's Day, Mental Health Awareness, Amanda Todd Legacy, Stand Up and Dance, Mandy's Medical Miracle, The Christmas Bureau of North Vancouver, Living Positive Kenya, Single Mother's of North Vancouver, United Way, One Billion Rising.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, how did you work with your regular clients and reach out to new ones?

Our business is based on knowing each client in person, their injuries. their needs as far as modifications, props, and special instructions for their workouts and their exercises to take home. We create workouts for private clients based on all these things. We all know each other's names, we connect on the mat and off the mat. We connect for events, fundraisers, birthdays, and workouts. Unfortunately, many of our clients are not getting some of what they need because during the current crisis, they are unable to access our special Pilates apparatus, machines, props.

How has the social isolations required to combat the spread of COVID-19 affected your business?  What about this has been hardest for you personally? 

I am at my studio every day, but also still having to teach elsewhere as my husband has not worked in 2.5 years due to to anxiety, depression, PTSD and Obsessive Rumination Disorder. I am the sole provider for our family.  Much of this income comes from my studio that is now not open. 

This studio is my saving grace, my safe place, my quiet place, my zen place. I can go there when it is quiet and empty. But because I don't get much time out socializing, this studio and my work is also my social time. It is hard to get away from home other than to work because my husband can only do so much on a daily basis. He's an amazing dad and husband, but his anxiety kicks in and I have to get home. 

So I am home now, A LOT, and it is almost harder. LOL. He's not used to having ALL of us (my daughter and I) ALL the time.  The fact we are there to witness his daily routine of Obsessive cleaning and tidying is hard on him. I now have too much time on my hands. I am trying to Catch up on rest and time with him and our daughter, but have to really plan time for building the next pieces of this business because we have no idea how long this is all going on for.

Have you found new ways to interact with your customer? Have you developed any new products or services as a way to help your clients through this time, or to fill a new need you see? 

 We have been forced to take it to the next level - ONLINE. I want to keep the community growing. I want to keep the movement happening. I want to ensure our clients are getting that they need and want, and it is forcing me to develop new classes. The online workout world is everywhere and many are giving it away for free. The competition is high.

I want to make sure our clients understand we are here and we a growing as we go through this together. I am offering classes online that our established clients as well as new clients can try out. They can attend these session live while we are teaching them, or they come another time when it fits into their new life schedule and see the recorded session. 

What type of marketing seems to be working best for you in this time of social isolation? 

 I am so fortunate that I am a mom, and a mom to a younger child. There are lots of mom networking groups now such as Facebook groups and Instagram. Social Media seems to be where it is at. 

Anything you'd like readers to know about you and your business? Any last words of encouragement you'd like to share with everyone? 

I have lived my life by following my passion. My passion is movement and bringing people together through movement. I have worked hard to move through life with positivity and persistence, to grow personally as both a teacher and a studio owner. I can honestly say that these 3 words have gotten me where I am today: Passion, Positivity, and Persistence. 

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