via Erika Brooke Photography

Badass Mothers: Staci McCool of Bluespot Yoga

When I asked Staci McCool if I could write about her for our new “Badass Mothers” series, she invited me to come to a yoga class at her studio, Bluespot. I showed up on a Saturday morning for a “McCool Method” class, which basically means that it’s Staci’s class, and she’ll do what she wants.  Which also means it was challenging, sweaty, and fun.

What stood out more to me though, was the sense of community at the studio.

Before class, it was boisterous, people were laughing together, practicing poses, making Saturday night plans. It didn’t feel exclusionary, or as intimidating as I’d thought it might. It felt like a family.

After class, Staci and I talked about the studio, the studio family, and her own family at home.

She opened the studio in December 2015, after completing her teacher training with the express purpose of opening her own practice.

via Erika Brooke Photography

Taking it back, six years ago, while living in Saratoga Springs, New York, she found herself experiencing some unexplained anxiety. Having “dabbled in yoga” previously, she decided to take a Bikram class.  And hated it. Until she realized that for the first time in a few months, she didn’t feel worried at all, and was able to quiet the stress inside and just be present.   So she went back the next day, and the day after that, and on, until it became routine.  Recognizing that yoga had the power to heal, and had in fact done that for her, she knew there was no going back.

When her husband, Adam, was transferred back to Columbus, Staci began researching studios here, and at that time, there wasn’t a Bikram option for her in town. 

Staci’s mentor said, “well, you’ll open a studio.”

During Adam’s transfer, Staci was eight months pregnant. After having their first son, instead of going back to work, she went to training.  In just 4 years, she started and completed her training, had their second son, and opened her studio in Bexley.  Just for some perspective, all of this would normally be a much slower journey, after completing training, most yoga practitioners will teach in many different studios, working their way toward ownership, if that’s even the goal. But, Staci exudes tenacity. She’s purposeful, motivated, and real.

via Erika Brooke Photography

We talked about what it means to be a business owner as well as a mother. As most parents can attest, no matter your employment status, it’s a hard ass job. Staci agrees, but her philosophy is family first.  While she’s extremely hands-on at Bluespot, she prioritizes spending time with Adam and her boys. In fact, having family as the priority seems to be her motto. The build out at the studio was a family affair led by Staci’s husband, father, uncle, and father in law. And her own badass mother and aunt would come in at night to clean up the saw dust from the days work, enabling Staci to be at home with the kids or to work on plans for the studio.

Up next? Expansion. They will be ripping out the whole retail section to create space for another studio. “The natural progression of yoga is that you need something.  Maybe something physical that’s going to help clean up the mental aspect.  You find clarity and peace,”she says. The new studio will allow for that, with room for restorative non-heated yoga, and workshop space for specialized focus.  This summer, Staci also hopes to add kids yoga, which will allow parents to take a class while their kids will get to have their own practice, in their own space, in the studio across the hall.

via Erika Brooke Photography

Being the owner as well as a teacher provides Staci with a sense of freedom. The two roles complement each other well and allow her the ability to carve out her own path. She relies on the support of friends who are also entrepreneurs, and she’s the first to admit that she couldn’t do it alone.

Staci’s oldest is now 5 and her youngest will be 2 in July.  And refreshingly, she’s the first to admit that motherhood can be a lot. “It’s a handful. But then there are those moments, one of them will give me a kiss or put their head on my shoulder and I’ll be like, okay, I can survive another day of this.”

Not to discount fathers, but it does seem that more often than not, mothers bear the mental energy of raising children in a way that’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves. “I’m at home and I have two children who require a lot of my attention, and then I’m here and I want to give that same energy to my students and then at the end of the day sometimes, I literally just want to be alone,” she says. “My husband is so great about that, he’ll know I’ve met my threshold and I just need to be alone. If anything that’s what I’m trying to balance more. I want to give everything to everyone but then at the end of the day you don’t have anything left.”

“I was a really good mom with my oldest. I feel like I’ve sacrificed a lot with my youngest, for this.” I didn’t anticipate that. I think we think we’re superwoman, we can do it all. Any job, I’m going to take it to the next level. The biggest sacrifice has been to figure out how to do both.  That has been the hardest part of this,” Staci admits. “Probably a lot of moms feel like that.”

via Erika Brooke Photography

I asked Staci what she loves about doing this, teaching yoga and getting to follow her passion. “I never really felt the community that I feel here. When someone gets a pose, we stop and clap. It’s like a family and so I feel like, unintentionally that’s what happened here.  It was not in the business plan but it is the reason that it’s successful. It’s inclusive.” When she has an idea, she implements it, it’s been a mind blowing experience for her when those ideas succeed.

When Adam was at Fischer College of Business, the studio was picked, prior to its implementation, by one of his MBA classes to do a full blown business plan.  “So we have like a 50 page business plan that we had to submit for our SBA.  Nowhere in that plan did the word community ever come up.  And now, that’s totally what that studio is. You come in here as a new student and you see the connection, ” she says.

Staci is quick to show that the road to Bluespot wasn’t without hard work and perseverance.  “I had two people that had initially expressed interest to be investors.  And they pulled out.  I thought, that’s the end, it isn’t going to happen.”  A classmate had expressed to her husband that getting an SBA was tough, and probably not worth their effort. Those words just pushed Staci harder,  “I’m always going to do what I can to prove you wrong.  And so, probably because we had this extensive business plan, we got the SBA.  It’s all mine.  Nobody owns this business but Adam and I.” And to Staci and her family, that just reinforced that what is meant to be will be and clarity and perspective happen both in yoga, and in life.

via Erika Brooke Photography

And one thing that was in the business plan?  Lavender towels, for each student, at the end of each practice. And believe me, after an hour of sweating like nobody’s business, they were pretty badass, too.

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