How Growing Offerings Grew a Community at This Yoga Studio
By Katherine Wernet
Soul Shack in North Hollywood is a yoga studio that’s not just focused on yoga. When owner Jessica Clark was setting out to open the business, she knew she wanted to do something different. She says, “Soul Shack was intended to be a community healing center where somebody could come and get just a little bit of anything that they may need or at least get some good solid advice on things that they could try for their health. A more holistic type of yoga studio that focused more on the community aspect.”
Creating a sense of community in the LA yoga scene
When Jessica left her hometown of Tallahassee, Florida and landed in Los Angeles, she missed the community feel she was so used to. It was up to her to recreate that sense of community. And now, she says of her clients, “That one of the reasons that they came to Soul Shack and that they love Soul Shack is the community healing aspect. So it's not like you just go in, do yoga and leave. It's everyone kinda gets to know each other, the students get to know the teachers, and then the healers.”
Offering a variety of unique yoga workshops
The not-just-a-yoga studio has lived up to its mission, regularly featuring workshops on a range of topics, including meditation, plant medicine and sound therapy. Soul Shack’s willingness to try new things and explore wellness as a community has helped the studio to differentiate. Jessica explains, “That's something else that we're known for. Just having a space that can be very experimental if need be and that isn't afraid to feature new things and introduce the public to new things that could help them.” Usually, Soul Shack instructors teach the specialty workshops and classes, but Jessica also brings in healers and speakers from the local community as well.
On the schedule for later this year are an Ayurvedic workshop and “Crystals 101,” the latter of which was a student request. Jessica likes the schedule to reflect student needs, “That's another thing, too, we always ask our students what they want to see next, and they, a lot of times, will drive what goes on the schedule next — because it is based around, you know, what the community needs that time in their lives.”
Giving back to the community
When one client and friend, Sarah, wanted to help raise money for the non-profit End the Backlog, Jessica offered to host the event at her studio. It sold out. Many attendees were not clients of Soul Shack but have since joined the studio. The special class to help the non-profit was so successful that it’s become a regular part of the class schedule, with a portion of proceeds continuing to go to the cause. While some events are one-time only, Jessica wants to make sure her clients have what they want and need. “The community gets to vote,” she says.
Part of what makes Soul Shack’s events so successful is that Jessica takes cues from her students. “Feel out the vibe,” she says. After the holidays this year, Soul Shack plans to open a larger location to accommodate more of what her clients want: more opportunities to come together as a community.