From retail and restaurants to tech and media, contractors to coworking spaces, large, small, and everything in between, a diverse array of businesses call Alexandria home. In our blog series, Growing in Alexandria, we sit down to talk with businesses around the City to learn more about who they are, what they do, and why they love it here. Have an idea for a business in Alexandria to talk to? Email us!
Wellness is a growing priority for both businesses and individuals- luckily, in Alexandria, we have lots of options to focus on wellness! This week we are profiling Hope Hurlbrink and Laura Rose Schwartz, Co-Founders of Vikriya Lab.
AEDP: Tell us a little about Vikraya Lab.
Hope: This Vikriya Lab provides a space for transformation and self-exploration through movement. They offer creatively, intelligently, and intuitively designed yoga, Pilates, and barre classes that provide a unique experience.
AEDP: What are the biggest challenges and most rewarding aspects of running the business?
Hope: The biggest challenge is just starting up and realizing all the things we didn’t know, like that we needed a business license. The details of running a business are also a lot to learn, like accounting, taxes, and then understanding what needs to be done on a city, state and federal level. It is rewarding to run this business as a team, because we both have different strengths. I have a hospitality background so am good at creating the atmosphere and keeping things organized in the studios. The things that overwhelm me, Laura does well and vice versa. Another reason we left our previous studios where we worked is because we wanted to teach and lead in a way that felt most authentic to us. All businesses obviously will have a newsletter, but ours has turned into “The Chronicles of Hope and Laura Rose.” We share our personal stories through this newsletter and it has helped us to connect even deeper with our students because it is not stuff we can or want to share in class.
Laura Rose: I am a former lawyer and Type A and want to do everything myself so it has been a humbling experience to admit that perhaps we just need to hire someone for the tasks we don’t know how to do. When we first started our business, we assumed everyone else already knew what they were doing. No one talks about the struggles. We are able to lean on each other as we figure this out together. Another rewarding part of running our business are all the interpersonal connections we have made with our students. We reflect sometimes on the fact that our biggest issues are that we sometimes ask ourselves if we are worthy of people coming to our class and paying us money. When people send emails or leave positive reviews online about how the class has helped them, that is really rewarding.
AEDP: How do you measure success so far?
H & LR: We measure success by how happy our community is. We are always open to suggestions and ideas from our clients. Our community really rallied for us when we were signing the lease for this space. We didn’t have the money for the security deposit and first month rent and so we did a fundraiser amongst our students and they were able to get us this space. They feel that they have a special connection to this space and we love that.
AEDP: And how would you describe the culture at Vikraya Lab?
Hope: Vikriya means transformation. When we are trying to decide if we were going to call ourselves a studio or center or whatever, we wanted the name to reflect all that we do here. In addition to yoga and Pilates, we do crystal and astrology classes. We ended up settling on Vikriya Lab because we think it is a reflection of what we do here. When someone comes to class, I think they notice that it is a very warm and welcoming place and people are eager to engage in conversation. Lab also reflects the transformation that takes place here. It is sometimes uncomfortable to make a change in your life. Our class offerings are varied enough that we allow people to transform as quickly and in the manner they want to.
Laura Rose: We want everyone to feel safe, so we don’t have mirrors because that lends to self-criticism or comparison. We want everyone to feel welcome here.
AEDP: Would you share something no one knows about you/Vikraya Lab?
H & LR: Starting our business and everything started so quickly that we just didn’t have time to second guess ourselves. We were just open to opportunities and followed our passion and we are proud about that. We didn’t know what would happen when we started our business, but even if we failed, we would still be proud of the fact that at least we tried.
AEDP: To close us out, can you share what you love most about Alexandria? Why did you choose to plant your business here?
H & LR: We chose to locate in Alexandria because of happenstance. We have always had the idea to start our own studio but all the work to start-up seemed so prohibitive – finding a space, getting money, everything seemed so prohibitive. We then were offered the opportunity to locate in the back of another business – Marcela’s Yoga Boutique. We were in there for 10 months. It was super small – it only fit 11 people, 12 if someone was in the hallway. Then, one of our students said to us the first week “You are going to grow out of this space.” She put us in touch with Scott Shaw, the owner of the building we are in now. He was developing this building and didn’t know what to do with this back space. We met with him several times and talked through the ideas. He was great because he wanted to crunch the numbers with us and make sure this was a good business move for us. We started our business in July 2017 and opened in our current location April 2018. There was never a question that we weren’t going to be in Old Town, we just never expected to have this nice of a space. Having South Block in the building has provided an amazing atmosphere.
Our favorite thing about Alexandria is that the business community is very collaborative. All the businesses want to help and promote each other. Some people might think “Oh, another yoga studio.” But each studio around town has a different specialty. We don’t do a lot of prenatal yoga so we would refer those women to Birth Club. If someone wants hot yoga, we send them to Power Nectar. We also work with Old Town Books and Alexandria Art Therapy for certain events.
To learn more about Vikriya Lab, visit their studio at 106 N. Lee St or visit their website.