We had the good fortune of connecting with Mel Douglas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mel, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I came up with the idea for The Black Women’s Yoga Collective to fill a need for community and visibility that I myself felt. Having just started practicing yoga and going to studios for classes, I quickly noticed there weren’t very many people who looked like me at many of these places. I knew that there had to be more people like me, who wanted to be able to tie their practice into a sense of community with those around them. I also noticed that it was hard to find photos of Black people in yoga ads, magazines, and other materials. I wanted to help shift the narrative that yoga isn’t for us.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Whenever you’re trying to impact change, you’re going to be met with resistance and that’s been true for me starting BWYC. I believe what sets us apart is our genuine love and commitment to building community. One of our main missions is to increase access to wellness tools for Black and brown people, not just yoga but other tools as well. We’ve been able to expand our affordable offerings to yoga classes, meditations, workshops, and even a free plant distribution program. I’m proud of all the people we’ve been able to connect with and empower through our offerings. It hasn’t been easy running BWYC. There are many people who are resistant to changing the way things are, even in an industry that claims to be about healing. It’s also important to us that our classes are affordable and accessible, so it can be a challenge as a business to balance everything out. I’ve learned that we can make great things happen when we come together to work toward a common goal, and that healing is a beautiful common goal to work toward in a community. I want people to know that healing is possible and that there are people out there rooting for them, even if we don’t know you!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Being a Brooklyn, NY native, I’ve had so many friends come to visit in LA. There are so many spots that I love taking them, a weekend trip would be jam packed. I’d make sure we headed over to Crenshaw to visit Mel’s Fish Shack for my favorite shrimp and catfish platter, then catch the sunset at the Baldwin Hill’s Scenic Overlook. One morning we’d head downtown to the Bohemian House of Espresso + Chai for Sunday morning lattes and avocado toast, then check out the Flower Market and plant shops.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to all of the people who make up the BWYC community. The way that people have shown up to support The Collective and each others healing is so powerful to watch unfold. I’m so grateful for the fact that we’ve been able to organically grow as a community, come together to impact change, and create space for healing in Black and brown communities. I know that it wouldn’t be possible without everyone who has shown their support in any way – from following us to social media, attending our events, joining a virtual class at our online studio, or just spreading the word. BWYC is made possible by the community!
Instagram: @blackwomensyogaco, @meldouglasyoga