Bronx resident Yoasara is making waves in New York City for the yoga and dance studio she founded and struggled to maintain during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yosara opened the Sweet Water dance and yoga studio during a difficult time in her life that required her to live out of the studio with her young son. In a profile of The humans of New York, Yosara shares her journey to business ownership and how her local community has helped keep its doors open.
“When you walk in this space, you breathe in how beautiful it is. Even if you are tired and stressed, you will come away happy, ”Yosara said of her yoga studio in the Bronx. “And that’s exactly what this community needs: a space to heal.
The birth of a yoga studio in the Bronx in New York was no easy task. Yosara struggled to make ends meet while raising her son inside the studio.
“At first, I worked 16 hours a day. I wasn’t asleep. I was not paid, ”she recalls. “For the first five years, I moved into the studio with my son. Customers watched me raise it up with nothing but a griddle, fridge and toaster.
But thanks to the determination and support of the local supporters, Yosara’s yoga studio was able to grow and she could afford to pay their instructors.
“I couldn’t get financing so we relied on these bullshit payday loans. Sometimes I couldn’t even pay my instructors on time, ”she said. “It wasn’t fair to them. They are also artists and people of color; they were struggling too. We were always late.
“But you know what? We made up for it. We paid off all of our debts, fairly. We were growing up beautifully.
While many have been able to benefit from government commercial loans and PPP partnerships, Yosara was not so lucky. Without the support of the local community, Yosara’s yoga studio in the Bronx would not have survived the pandemic.
“It is a miracle that we survived the pandemic,” she said. “All of our classes had to stop. There was no help from banks, lenders or organizations. But my community has come forward. Blue collar workers. People tied up like crazy.
Local residents began to invest their own money in the yoga studio, and Yosara was able to keep her business afloat.
“They came to me and said, ‘I want to buy an annual membership,’ ‘I want to buy a lifetime membership.’ They said, “Can I lend? “,” Can I invest “,” Can I get a percent? ” “$ 5,000, $ 4,000, $ 3,000 at a time,” she recalls. “I didn’t even know they had it. But they had it. They got me. My people got me. Artists, workers, mothers. Especially mothers. There were many, and many, mothers.