We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Kang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, how do you think about risk?
“Risk” it’s a scary word for a lot of people. It’s a thin line between making the right choice and the wrong one that one can regret for a long time… Being a daughter, the youngest of 5, of immigrants who risked everything to come to this country without knowing the language, without a secured job or any friends; only betting on the American Dream that if you work hard then you can achieve what ever you want, so for me, risk is a way of life if one wants to grow and succeed, whatever your definition of success is, but for me it’s not about ‘success’, it’s about survival.
Without taking that leap of faith then one will never know how strong they are or how far they can grow and move forward because without progress and growth in this ever changing world, we’ll get lost and left behind.
It’s the challenges, the obstacles, the doubts in our head, fears we overcome, tears we shed, loneliness we feel, heartaches that need mending that we experience on a daily basis is what makes us unique because we all feel those but how we deal with them is what makes it unique to our own progress.
There were and still many days when I am overwhelmed with emotions of failing and if my luck has run it’s course but everyday is a new day to start again to keep moving forward and learning from yesterday.
Everyday we choose, it’s not about how big the risk is or how big the payoff is for one to have succeeded, it’s about what we learn about ourselves, our relationships with people around us, our humanity that make life interesting and fascinating to where you want to see more, learn more and be more.
If I were to measure my success from the risks I’ve taken in my life as a whole, not just in business it would be the kind of people I have around me… Successful, strong, kind, grounded, humble women/men of all backgrounds, faith and ethnicity that have supported me personally and professionally this past year.
I took a risk starting my company over 7 years ago without a clue of what I was doing or wanted to do. I needed to work, I needed to pay my bills… I needed to survive and I did. I survived 2020 and to me that is success.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Yogis on the Move was more than anything a desperate attempt to not work for a traditional studio. I didn’t want to drive and sit in traffic for longer than what I was being offered to teach. And at that time since I had just returned state side from being abroad for 3 years, I didn’t have a car. Easiest way for me to move around was by metro and walking. With the newly high-rises that were being built in downtownI was curious to see if they had offered any yoga classes to their residents as an amenity. The first complex I started teaching at we are still currently there.
I walked a lot of miles and knocked on lot of doors selling something that a lot of the communities weren’t offering so in that way it was easy but hard because I wasn’t familiar with the multifamily industry and they weren’t familiar with me. I wasn’t even a “company”. It wasn’t until I had 3 properties the first 2 years where I was teaching 3- 5 classes a week and the Saturday mornings were filling up where I had to bring in other teachers. That’s when I went to the CEO of AG Jeans, where I was their corporate yoga teacher for a business loan. Mr. Ku offered me an interest free loan for me start my company and from there I was off flailing, running into walls and obstacles to a point I was wondering if it was worth it…
I’m not a business person. I didn’t have a business plan or anything. I was just learning as I went and learning fast that I knew nothing of what I was doing. But with a few lucky breaks, meeting the right people who gave me a chance to prove myself I was able to gain their trust and their business. From there, I was being referred to other properties, hiring few more teachers and slowly seeing the fruits of my labor. By the 2nd year after we officially became an LLC, we had 5 communities with 10 weekly classes.
Now in 2021 after having pivoted like so many businesses in 2020, we are now live streaming classes simultaneously while teaching onsite, giving our communities more than just a weekly class for their practice. We have also expanded to onsite Spin, HIIT, Circuit Training and so on. We have over 30 weekly online classes that our communities can join in from morning to evening. I’m cutting out a lot of the challenges moving from live unperson to live streaming in less than a week… Closing or stopping classes during the shutdown was not an option. Thankfully, with modern technology we were able to move 60% of our clients online and keep our teachers working.
If I was to be proud of anything is the fact that I’m proud of our team that stayed patient and help us navigate through a scary time. I’m grateful to our clients that kept us working and to the students who continued to show up and proved our value that we all needed to stay connected.
I’ve learned that I’m very lucky in what I do. By all means it’s not easy running a small business, let alone in a pandemic, but I feel extremely lucky to have laid the ground work over 7 years ago to have kept me and my teachers working and being of service to our communities.
I’m going to go off subject a bit and talk about the California law known as AB5 and the possible Pro-Act to declassify independent contractors. This is a horrendous law that takes away the right to work on our terms off the table that is being forced by unions and politicians. As a small company, especially the way my company is set up, with no brick and mortar, all the teachers are working within their availability and however many classes they want to teach. I have teachers on payroll who hasn’t taught in almost 5 months or longer because our schedule doesn’t fit their schedule but I can’t release them in case I need to have them teach when their schedule aligns with our schedule… That is the very definition of an independent contractor yet I had to change their classification to employee and cut everyone’s rates. I’m not against unions, they do have their benefits but not all work force can fit into one category to benefit one organization.
Again, it’s not easy running a small company in general but California is definitely not small business friendly and if the new Pro-Act becomes law, it will put so many small businesses in jeopardy especially businesses owned by women and POC.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite spots that I like to hang out with friends is pretty much anywhere they have good food and strong drinks!
I hope Faith and Flower in downtown opens back up, they make one of the best old fashion… As does Normandie Club in K-Town.
My neighborhood “Cheers” where everybody knows your name is Palm. I’m looking forward to seeing the staff back as well as some of the neighbors in the area!
Other than drinking or eating I like to take my dogs on a hike to Griffith Park, picnics at L.A. Historic Park in Chinatown…
Can’t wait to see shows/ concerts/ musicals again at the Hollywood Bowl, Music Center, Pantages Theatre…
Oh, I hope Alamo Draft opens up, looking forward to seeing some new movies there!
Other than yoga, I love Capoeira, and want to start that up again at Fit Arts in Hollywood.
I’m looking forward to creating and collaborating for events with some local businesses and trying out new business in the area. L.A. if anything is very resilient and creative city so it won’t take long for this city to bounce back stronger and better than before.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow, so many names but of course I wouldn’t be me or here if not for my parents (Dad passed away in ’92… Mom will turn 82 this year) who took the initial risk to come to this country and sacrificed everything for a better life for our family.
My brother Paul and sister-n-law who may not always agree with my choices in life but have never said no when I needed help.
My sister friends, Sunny and Eli Oh who’s given me a home with “pay what you can rent” when I came back stateside after 3 years of traveling and had no place to call home in 2011. It was only supposed to be a 5 month/ max 1 year stay, it ended up being 5 years before I finally moved out once my company slowly started picking up.
My yoga teacher/mentor, Jeanne Heileman who actually believed I could actually do this… teach yoga! 14 years later after my first Teacher Training I’m hiring yoga teachers I did the training with.
The teachers who have came through and continue to work with us, sharing their passion, their love for this incredible ancient practice, something we needed more than ever in 2020 than any other time in modern history.
To all the community managers, friends that continue to support me and my company and our team of teachers for the past 7+ years, especially last year, thank you. Supporting us is supporting a small business owned by a woman of color that is HUGE.
#Greystar #MackUrban #Related #LegacyPartners #Onni
Linkedin: Jessica Kang