Changing Her Community One Chaturanga at a Time
“At every studio I went to, I noticed I was the only black person in the class or maybe there was one other black woman in the class. It seemed like it was something that was not available or affordable for most people of color, so that’s what really pushed me to want to open up this space.” – Brandi, Owner of Studio 262
I discovered Studio 262 my junior year at USC. At the time, living near the university definitely came with its fair share of challenges. The university is located in one of the poorer areas of Los Angeles which means there are limited retail resources and only a few businesses around campus. I went to great lengths to find a yoga studio close by and was often frustrated by the time it took to drive to yoga studios in LA traffic (ew, talk about a zen-killer!). That said, I was extremely excited to hear that a new yoga studio was opening up just walking distance from my apartment.
From the moment I stepped into Studio 262, I was welcomed by a warm smile. Brandi, who I soon learned was the studio’s owner, signed me in for “The Trap”, a 60-minute vinyasa flow class. Initially, I was a little intimidated by the name of the class. I had never taken a Hip-Hop inspired yoga class before and didn’t know what to expect, but all my hesitations seemed to melt away when I felt the mat under my feet and listened to a seamless remix of the instructor’s voice blended with the melodies of Tupac.
As one of Studio 262’s first students, I have watched as the studio has evolved and grown since its opening. I am humbled and heartened by the instructors and the community I have met during my time at Studio 262. I now call Studio 262 my main yoga home in Los Angeles, a funky, little yoga family.
One Badass Girl Boss, Yogi and Mom
Q&A with Brandi Polk, Owner of Studio 262
How did you get started in yoga?
I got into yoga kind of randomly. I started taking class at a studio close to where I worked. The first day I took a class, I was hooked! It started as a different kind of exercise, and now it has turned into a lifestyle. Yoga is now how I live, as opposed to what I do to work out.
What was your career before you opened Studio 262?
I was a production manager for a publishing company for about 6 years before I opened this studio. I didn’t know that I was going to start a Yoga and Pilates studio at first, I just knew, however, that I wanted to start my own business.
Why did you decide to open a yoga studio?
I initially opened Studio 262 because at every studio I went to, I noticed I was the only black person in the class or maybe there was one other black woman in the class. It seemed like it was something that was not available or affordable for most people of color, so that’s what really pushed me to want to open up this space.
What was your inspiration behind the studio’s location and overall “vibe”?
I opened it up in the South Los Angeles area and it has this sort of “vibe”, because a lot of people think that yoga is attached to a specific type of person and I wanted this studio to show everyone that you don’t have to be a specific type of person to practice yoga. That’s the reason it is located in this community and the prices are what they are and the vibe is the way it is.
I opened it with what I thought a yoga studio should be, which is really “zen” and “peaceful” and “quiet”, but that’s not who I am as a person. The space that I opened originally didn’t fit my personality and I think it was obvious. Over time, weeks and months, the studio kind of transformed into what it is, which is really just a reflection of who I am.
I think Hip-Hop culture really influenced my vision for this space. I am really inspired by both the aspects of the “zen” in yoga and the culture of hip-hop. There are times when I just want to be quiet and relaxed, but most of the time I’m very outspoken, vibrant and loud and I wanted the studio to reflect that type of person as well. You can come here and you connect with yourself and your mind, leaving the outside world behind, but it’s also a place that’s still interesting and fun. Here you’ll notice some of the instructors are curvy, they’re Latino, white and Asian. Everybody is welcome in this space. I want the staff to reflect that as well.
What’s it like to be a mom and a business owner?
It’s definitely difficult at times, but one of my mantras is, “I am stronger than anything in front of me.” It’s just a reminder that if you put your mind to anything, you can do it. If it’s something you want, you make it work. Owning this studio is just proof of that, it is something that I want, that I’m passionate about, so I make it work. I would say that 80 percent of the time it doesn’t work out exactly how I plan it to be, but it works out and that’s really all that counts.
“My Mantra: I am stronger than anything in front of me.”
What advice would you give a young woman who wanted to open a yoga studio?
Ooh, what a tough question! First, I would say, listen to yourself. When we don’t listen to what is true to ourselves, we end up making mistakes. I opened this studio thinking it should be a certain way because I was doing it the way other people view a studio should be, and not what I defined it as being. I had to shut out all of those voices and listen to me and what I think is best for my business. The moment I began to listen to myself is when the business started to improve, attendance was higher and the studio began to prosper.
In addition to that, I would say, never stop pushing forward.
For more information on Studio 262 visit: https://www.studiotwosixtwo.com/