Holly Garrison has turned her enthusiasm for yoga into a business, and she is still passionate about it!
What’s your story?
I had an opportunity to pause and ask myself what I wanted to do with my life. I was passionate about yoga, but not teaching anywhere. I thought, “Hey, maybe I could open a yoga studio,” and I was too dumb to realize that was a crazy idea. I spent a month asking everyone I knew with a studio or a small business for their advice, and I biked around looking for a space. Things seemed to fall together; I had great support from friends and family. It happened!
What excites you most about your industry?
Yoga is powerful! We show up on the mats for different reasons: exercise, someone dragged us there, the doctor recommended it, we saw a sign, whatever. We start practicing. Things start happening: some people find that they can more easily tie their shoes, some find that their bodies don’t ache anymore, some find a quiet they never knew was possible, their lives start to change. We didn’t even know we were signing up for this, but the magic happens. I don’t even like sharing this, because it creates expectation; I much prefer for people to be surprised.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
This might seem like a backwards answer, but I think it might be my NOT business-mindedness that makes us a little off the beaten path. I’m led by faith and love and a desire to honor those above all else. I don’t get these right all the time, but our teachers do. I am incredibly blessed to have the staff I have. They have the MOST generous hearts, and they teach and live with grace and love. I think we care more about giving and sharing rather than about earning.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Again, maybe this seems a little counterintuitive, but I think probably the most valuable thing I do is to give people space. With respect to my teachers and trainees, that means trusting them to lead in their own ways, and then what they specifically have to offer shines for the students. For them, and with regard to students, it’s being “open handed.” You want to be here? You are so very welcome. You’re ready to move on? I won’t chase you or hold on, but I’ll honor you and support you in your journey forward.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Let it slide off like water off a duck’s back” is what my grandma used to say. It was very “yoga” of her. Always trying my best but then, again, giving people space for their own opinions and actions is really peaceful. Also, from when I was asking all the questions, many successful business owners told me not to expect to be profitable right away, not even for years. I am so grateful for this, because it really set me up to be prepared and patient as we started and slowly grew.
Who inspires you?
Seriously. Everyone. My gosh, if I think about every single one of my teachers, trainees, students, my friends and my family – what they bring to the table as they do yoga and life (it’s the same thing), I’m amazed. The ways they move and speak and strive are unique and beautiful. My grandma was, and my parents are, very driven and have had an attitude of believing in themselves and therefore making things happen. It makes me think I can do it, too. The things they have chosen to take on as I have watched them are amazing.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
Haha, I’m blown away by something new all the time, because I have so much to learn! Really. If I have to pick one, I’ll say the power that is in continually grounding in my own truth self and then trying to take up space lovingly and respectfully from that place. I recently read a quote that said something to the effect of “we can’t have world peace without you” – every single one of us is important, even me. That was profound for me and implies a shift.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I really believe that we are exactly where we are meant to be, yes as a function of our choices and experiences, so this is a tough question. I don’t, therefore, know that I would change it, but, I can see regretting the sale of our original downtown Orlando studio. We had expanded to Ocoee, and someone approached me asking to buy the first one. I figured, “Why not? I guess I don’t need two studios.” We had a beautiful community though, and it fell apart in a way when I sold.
How do you unwind?
I’m a yoga teacher; I’m almost always unwound! I do love playing super-casual sports with my son and our friends, and I bike. Every once in a great while, I’ll spend a few days at the beach, and I love to just sit and watch the world come to light there. I’ll go to the shore while the stars are still out and watch for hours. It’s one of the few times/places where I can actually be still for hours at a time.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I remember the first day we opened, I was like, “People are PAYING for this! I’m just doing what I love!” At some point, I realized that if I kept “giving away yoga” that the business wouldn’t survive. People have made me believe that we are impactful and important to their lives and therefore worth sustaining. In order to keep giving the gift, having space for our teachers to give their gifts, for our students to be in community, I had to financially honor what we are offering. It helped me to be able to accept payment.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I think everyone in general should read “The Four Agreements.” It is the only book I require for our yoga teacher training students. I think it helps to navigate in the world in so many ways. It’s not a perfect book, but I think there’s a lesson in that, too – to see what resonates and take what works and not make sweeping judgments about things; we can really miss out if we do that. Same with people!
Shameless plug for your business:
We are a relatively small studio, and the gift that comes along with that is that we have a little more opportunity to really connect with and see our students. We care about your individual practice and body and about guiding you in exploring the practice of yoga in the way that meets your needs and goals. When we started, people would ask me what we were about. I was always amused by that question, because how should I know? – We’d just begun. Now, I know the answer: Firefly family.
How can people connect with you?
We’d love to hear from you! Our website, fireflyyogacompany.com, has a contact us page with a form to send us a message.
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.