BABE #152: NICOLE DELORETO, Owner + Teacher @ Yoga Mix
Somewhere in-between her daughter’s cheer competitions and her son’s baseball tournaments, today’s babe makes time each day to create a space and community where all are welcome to practice yoga and embrace their authenticity. Since its conception, Yoga Mix has blossomed into a successful business serving the Jacksonville community, seven days a week. Today, Nicole shares her super mom/entrepreneurial/yogi ways while simultaneously inspiring us to pave our own individual paths and resolve to leave the world better than we found it. Thanks for chatting with us, Nicole!
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
Current city: Atlantic Beach, Florida
Alma mater: N/A
Hustle: Owner + Teacher @ Yoga Mix
Babe you admire and why?
My grandmother, Sherrin. She was the most perfect blend of spunk mixed with class. She could be sweet as pie, all while telling you like it is. She taught me (1) to never lie and (2) a little gloss before you leave the house always makes you feel like sunshine.
How do you spend your free time?
With a 15-year-old daughter who cheers and dances competitively and a 12-year-old son who plays football and travel baseball—umm...what is free time? When we’re not chasing our kiddos around—which we absolutely love—we enjoy yoga, of course, running and biking through our little beach town and snow skiing in the winter.
Favorite app, website or blog?
I really do love Pinterest. I try not to let it overwhelm me and be all “Pinteresty,” but it does have a lot of great inspo!
What would you eat for your very last meal?
I’ve had a recent obsession with Indian cuisine, so anything with curry.
What is something you want to learn or master?
I’d love to learn to golf one day, but it is very time consuming. Maybe I’ll take it up in another chapter of life.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
The Dalai Lama.
What’s something most don't know about you?
I played tuba in the marching band my freshman year of high school. Why? Because someone told me I couldn’t and it would be too heavy for a girl. I rocked that tuba and red beret. (It was heavy!)
Three words to describe yourself?
Honest, loyal, intuitive.
Tell us about your hustle.
In 2011 when my youngest went off to kindergarten, I jumped feet-first into a quaint little space and opened Yoga Mix in Neptune Beach, where we spent six amazing years. In December of 2017 we moved to our current location, just two blocks north.
What does your typical workday look like?
I try to rise at least an hour before my kiddos and the sun so I can snuggle a cup of coffee and tap away on my laptop. After an hour or so it's time to get kids fed, lunches packed—the usual morning hustle and bustle. We get our daughter to one school, our son to another and then I head to the studio on mornings I teach. After class, I meet with my manager to go over the week’s happenings, to-dos and spend time connecting. Our studio is open seven days a week, so daily tasks include everything from making sure all is running well, checking emails, staying on top of social media, finding creative time to plan and prep events, workshops, newsletters—oh and payroll, and taxes. I try hard to sneak in a yoga practice, run, walk, swim—some sort of movement. By 1:30 p.m. it’s pick-up time for my dude. I run him home, walk the dog and open the laptop back up. After school I pick up my daughter and it becomes the great race of getting them off to their activities. Once back home, it’s time to cook dinner, get homework done, spend a little QT with each other, pop the laptop back open, check on the studio, address anything urgent, prep for the next day and then off to dreamland we go.
When and how were you first introduced to yoga?
I stepped into my first yoga class back in 2007 when I was a member of the ROAR of the Jaguars. We were given a free membership to the Y as a perk, and that is where I was first exposed. I fell in love and quickly started pursuing more intimate yoga settings.
What inspired Yoga Mix?
Yoga Mix was born from a desire to bring our beaches and Intracoastal communities a style of yoga that allowed creativity to be expressed through authenticity of a teacher’s uniqueness, while using music, language and transitions that I liked in my body. My vision for the space was to be out of the box; to share the practice with anyone and everyone. It didn't matter if you were flexible or not. It didn't matter if you had dreads or highlights, wore makeup or were fresh-faced, ate meat or were a vegetarian. I felt drawn to break any stereotypes. Some days I wanted to play Top 40s, some days hip-hop, some days Krishna Das. I wanted the space to be accessible for men. I wanted a logo, colors and our name to not be too feminine or masculine. Yoga Mix was an umbrella of which we all fit under.
What kind of classes does the studio offer?
We started with just me, 10 classes a week, closed on Sundays (so I had a day off). Today we have 51 classes a week with more than 10 varieties. We have grown organically, never forced, never fast, all built on good, old-fashioned time, effort, love and word of mouth. It has been pretty darn cool to witness.
How do you balance the demands of running your business with raising your teenagers, your marriage and your social life?
My husband and kids always come first. That’s it! No excuses; no ifs, ands or buts about it. I believe in creating that culture with my team as well as our students. I will not miss a single game, school activity or field trip. I will tag along on work trips with my husband and ski the Rockies with my family in the winter. I will follow my son around like a groupie to his baseball tournaments and scream my head off at my daughter’s cheer competitions. Creating that balance and learning to live in the present moment was a non-negotiable for me. Right now, time is fleeting. Being with my kids and husband are my number one priority. For me, that mindset works. It doesn't mean I don’t work endless hours on Yoga Mix (I do), it just means I often have to get creative with time management.
What did your hustle look like before Yoga Mix?
My hustle before Yoga Mix was being a stay-at-home mom and an NFL cheerleader. I changed diapers by day and glammed it up by night. During my rookie season I had a 17-month-old and a 4-year-old. Go Jags!
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
I’d say in the last few years, learning to balance being a business owner with being a yoga student. It’s a very blurred world sometimes. It’s not a business that is black and white. It’s a business filled with love, compassion, heightened senses and emotion. It’s often hard to make “business” decisions sometimes, but I’ve learned to find my “why” and my voice. It has been challenging and liberating.
How has being a woman has affected your professional experience?
I’ve enjoyed being able to show my daughter that woman business owners are badass. I’ve enjoyed letting her see Mom stay at home with two babies and still check the bucket list item of cheering professionally. I’ve enjoyed showing her Mom can own a business, grow a business honestly and organically while still being Mom, present at every milestone. My hope is that being a woman business owner has empowered her. She really can do and be whatever the heck she wants. I believe that with my whole heart.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
That we just do yoga all day. I run a full-fledged business with 22 team members that’s open seven days a week and only closes on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It’s insanely important to me that every person who walks through our door leaves feeling better than when they entered. It’s equally important to me that our team feels happy, loved and satisfied. Our teachers touch lives so deeply. Many people come to stretch or sweat, but gain so much more on their journey. It’s pretty magical.
Do you make time for your own yoga practices and meditations?
Yes! I practice at home a lot and sneak into the studio a few days a week with my hubby. I love yoga dates and we have the most incredible teachers.
What would you say is the skill you most need to improve?
Learning the valuable lesson in life that we cannot make everyone happy. We all want to be liked—shoot, loved—but it’s OK when it doesn't happen. As long as we stay true to who we are at our core, we will attract what we need in our lives.
Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
I originally trained at Yoga Den in Mandarin under Alyson Foreacre. She was one of the very first people to open a studio and training school in Jacksonville. I’ve always admired her genuine love for the practice and her studio (now studios).
What advice would you give to a babe trying to break into your industry?
My best advice would be to pave your way. It takes time to create and grow your brand, your name and your offerings. What makes your vision unique and special? I subleased space in the back of a dance studio for two years while also teaching at UNF several days a week to get my feet wet before opening Yoga Mix. It was important for me to know who I was as a teacher and what my vision was for my studio when the time came. Know who you are, what your craft is and stay true to it.
What motivates and inspires you?
My husband and children. If I make them proud, I’ve done a good job.
Where do you see Yoga Mix in five years?
Five years will bring huge changes in my household. Our daughter will be off at college and our son will be finishing up high school. When my kiddos have their own lives to tend to, my hope is Yoga Mix will be my soft place to land when I have an empty nest at home. I can’t imagine a better community to wrap my arms around.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Stay true to you! Don’t worry about what other people think you should be doing or how you should be doing it. Whatever you do, be genuine, be unique. There is no one who has your thumbprint. Leave your mark and pave your path. Nobody walks in your shoes, and as long as you stay honest, humble, loving and hungry, you will rock!
What’s next for you?
Every day I run the business I learn something new, come across a new obstacle and try to find answers and solutions. Every year I look back at what we have accomplished and try to come up with ways to build on the previous year, to offer our students something better, smoother and more efficient. We just made a huge move to a new studio in December giving us more lobby space, a beautiful boutique area, member mat storage, two studio spaces and an expanded schedule. That’s what's next for now: settling into our new digs and riding the wave.
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