We had the good fortune of connecting with Bobby Kittleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bobby, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The idea of starting a business truly arose from the desire to be at the cause of creating meaningful connection with others through yoga. My close friend and co-owner Jenny, and I, shared a vision for a business that would value creativity, authenticity, and unity. We wanted to focus on creating a space where a community of like-minded individuals could practice yoga and thrive. Our thought process wasn’t focused on profit, but rather on ways to recognize each individual exactly as they are, and allow them to feel safe and at home within our studio walls.
What should our readers know about your business?
Ra Yoga was founded on the idea of creating connection, opportunity, love, and space for the human condition. However, this vision was very challenging to bring into reality. We wanted to do everything from a place of love and commitment. We started with a single studio in Costa Mesa and built almost everything ourselves, from scratch. This meant crafting our front desk, retail shelves, and doors by hand from wood. Everything we did took a great deal of time and money, but when we were done we had a studio which embodied everything we wanted our business to represent. Then we faced the difficulty of bringing in students without relying on traditional forms of advertising. We wanted everybody who entered our doors to feel welcome and invited, so we focused on creating a studio culture that matched this, and let word of mouth recommendations drive our sales. It was a slow but meaningful journey. Eventually we expanded to a second studio in Newport Beach, and most recently opened locations in both Irvine and Long Beach. The biggest lesson we have learned along the way is that even though we love to give, in order to succeed as a business we also need to equally accept the love and support of our community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Honestly this is a hard question to answer, both because I spend the majority of my time working, and because we are in the middle of a pandemic. However, if my friend was visiting I would take them to kid-friendly outdoor places since I have two little ones. It’s always fun to people watch at the park while the kids play. Also, I am a huge Astros fan, so if there happened to be a game on we would definitely find a way to watch that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my Shoutout to Jenny Vande Hei, Ra Yoga’s amazing co-owner. She was the driving force behind the creation of Ra Yoga, and continually inspires me with her dedication to give back to our community whenever possible. I like to refer to her as our vision curator, as she takes inspirational ideas from nature and her daily life, and turns them into tangible ways to further connect with our fRAmily (our Ra Yoga family as we like to call it).
Other: http://live.rayoga.com/ https://rau.rayoga.com/