DREAM CATCHER: JODI GUBER BRUFSKY AND MICHELLE WAHLER
Jodi Guber Brufsky was a yoga instructor and life coach in search of stylish workout clothes to wear both on and off the mat. Michelle Wahler was part of the New York editorial scene before launching her own clothing and accessories line and relocating to California. The two joined forces to develop Beyond Yoga, a yoga-inspired collection of workout and lifestyle apparel. The line is designed for real women’s bodies (from XXS to XXL) and is marketed using only non-retouched photography to empower women to embrace who they are, at any size. Beyond Yoga is made in the USA and is now sold in over 1500 locations worldwide.
When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? Jodi: I am a renaissance woman of sorts. I have had many careers and had no idea this would be the business I ended up building. That said, the very purpose of my business – the story – was there from the beginning. I always wanted to help people by encouraging them to love themselves and celebrate the now, and that is really what Beyond Yoga is all about for me. So really, I’ve known for many, many years – it just had a long path to its final birth.
Did your original business plan change along the way or are you doing exactly what you set out to do? If it changed, how so? Michelle: It definitely changed. When we first met I had a different dream, and I thought I would help Jodi launch Beyond Yoga while I got my company Unsweetened off the ground. Within a month of working with Jodi, my entire focus shifted. Beyond Yoga became my full-time passion, which it has remained for the last nine years
What makes you different from your competition? Jodi: I started this company before the active wear craze started. I trusted my instinct to launch a company that made clothes for everybody and every body; a line of clothing to take you from work to workout, coffee to cardio and from barre to the bar. But most importantly, my goal was to build a platform to send a message of self-empowerment. While the bottom line is selling yoga pants, that was not what was driving me or inspiring me – it was the desire to be part of changing a conversation. This story is authentic to me and my journey, and that is what makes us different.
Tell us about a time when you thought you should throw in the towel. What kept you going?Michelle: There have been times where building the team has been challenging, or just thinking about everything we need to get done can get a bit overwhelming, but at the end of the day I love what I do and the team we have is amazing. We also have great goals as a company and seeing how we have impacted woman gives me the motivation to keep going during the hard times.
If you could have a one-on-one meeting with any woman, who would it be and why? What’s the first thing you would you ask her? Jodi: That’s a good question, but it’s not the meeting that inspires me. It’s the potential of friendship – I would want to become friends so I could develop a real and genuine relationship with these amazing women and hopefully inspire them to work on something creative together. So that list would include Beyoncé (for an activewear collaboration), Taylor Swift (for a lifestyle collaboration), and Tina Fey or Oprah (for book collaborations).
What three factors have most contributed to your success in business and in life? Michelle:Passion, persistence, and a little bit of crazy.
I wish someone had told me… Jodi: I don’t think there is anything that I wasn’t told, but there are things I didn’t believe or didn’t listen to. Like the saying goes – youth is wasted on the young. Sometimes in life you have to take the harder path to get the results. I wish I had listened and followed advice more, but you can only do that when you are ready. I do wish someone had made me understand one simple but essential concept: be where you feel like you belong – don’t waste time trying to fit in.
My biggest challenge is… Michelle: Knowing when to stop. I have a tendency to keep going and I need to remind myself about the work-life balance we all strive to achieve.
My proudest professional moment to date is… Jodi: When we launched our blog, I Am Beyond. It is the vehicle to tell our story and I am super proud of it.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
The three words that best describe me are… Michelle: Passionate, Dedicated, Creative.
While on vacation I always… Jodi: Swim in the ocean (I always push for beach vacations!) and read. I don’t tend to read for pleasure at home. I read self-help and business books, but not very much leisure reading.
My beauty routine consists of… Jodi: Oh my! Where do I begin? You have one face so you’d better take care of it. I get facials regularly (once a month) and follow a very strict morning and evening routine with face wash and products.
My favorite type of workout is… Michelle: Pilates. At least three days a week at Studio MDR in Los Angeles.
On my playlist right now you will find… Jodi: Anything that a teenager listens to – I am a teenager trapped in a grown woman’s body! So right now that includes Meghan Trainor, Taylor Swift, Lou Doillon, Beyoncé, Sam Smith, Jessie J, and Nick Jonas. And the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack…don’t judge!
My tips for eating healthy during the workday are… Michelle: Keep healthy snacks close by – when you’re busy you don’t have time to think about making smart choices about food. If you’ve already won that battle at the grocery store, you are set up for success.
A teacher or boss who influenced me is… Jodi: I have been very influenced and inspired by my parents. They are amazing role models. My mom has been a trendsetter and trend spotter my whole life, so I go to her often for advice and inspiration. My dad seems to have the Midas touch and gives amazing advice so I turn to him for business advice all the time.
I rejuvenate by… Michelle: Spending time with my family, friends, and my pups.
Being a mom and an entrepreneur means… Jodi: “You can’t have it all” is the first thing to come to most people’s minds – but no one can! What is it “all” anyway? It is not about having it all, it is about finding YOUR all and having balance that works for you in your life.
Lately I’m inspired by… Michelle: My pregnancy. It’s been a great springboard for our new maternity line, Beyond the Bump! We recently launched a collaboration with A Pea in the Podwhich has been super successful. We also added a charity component to this part of the business. Beyond Yoga has pledged to donate prenatal care for every Beyond the Bump garment we sell. Last year we were able to contribute to over 10,000 prenatal check-ups working with Midwives for Haiti!