Welcome to our new blog series on Encircled, "Women Entrepreneurs on the Go". Over the next few months, we will feature successful female entrepreneurs who LOVE to travel. They'll be sharing their story, how they started their businesses, and what motivates them the most, and how they overcome the challenges that come with being an Entrepreneur. As well, you'll get a sneak peek into their favourite travel destinations and their carry-on bag!
This week I'd like to introduce Debbie Fung, co-founder of one of the most successful yoga chains in Toronto, Ontario.
About Debbie + Yoga Tree
Debbie founded Yoga Tree alongside her business and life partner, Jason Lu in 2007. The two were inspired after a yoga training excursion in India to open up their own yoga studio and share their wellness practices with the community.
While Jason teaches the classes, Debbie manages the business. Together they've been able to expand their business and open up numerous studios across Toronto (5 and counting!).
Debbie has always been in love with yoga and the healing benefits it offers. As Debbie is living with scoliosis, yoga has offered her relief from pain, improved her posture and eased her peace of mind. Running Yoga Tree has given her the chance to share these benefits with others. Being able to turn her hobby into a business and work with great staff and great customers, is a truly rewarding experience.
Debbie's Keys to Success
While it's exciting to be constantly expanding the business, making time to connect with people can be a challenge. With 110 instructors and 35 yoga advisors to keep up with, she has to work hard to stay involved with each of them in order to maintain strong relationships. She tries to make a daily effort to get involved in the studio operations and to be present in the business. This ensures a genuine bond between her, her employees and her yogi customers and a good sense of community.
Genuine relationships and a sense of community aren't the only things keeping Debbie's business strong. A sense of direction, determination and drive are also key, she says. She does her best to understand and cater to her customers - which vary from studio to studio. This is why each of Yoga Tree's studios have different vibes and decor to reflect the customers that visit. This offers her yogis a very local and personal experience which is appreciated by those that visit.
Traveling as Education
In her spare time, Debbie loves to travel and makes 2-3 international trips a year. One of her most memorable trips include adventures in Tokyo, Japan with her husband and two children (ages 2, 4) as they travelled to the small village of Bappu and experienced the volcanic rocks and nature, as well as local life. Another recent trip the family took was to the Mediterranean. They toured Italy and Versailles, France. It was filled with language, food and culture. Travelling with kids isn't always easy, but it's a great way for Debbie to help her children learn more about different cultures and nature. It's like school outside the school yard!
Her Travel Advice
One strategy that Debbie recommends when travelling is to run or do yoga in the morning - this has helped her significantly to adjust to new time zones and throw off jet leg.
What's in her Carry On Bag
1. My favourite shades by Philip Lim 3.1, perfect for hiding dark eye circles from jet leg
2. My favourite cleanser on the go - Juicy Bamboo Wipes. Made with 100% bamboo fiber and 100% biodegradable, it helps freshens up my skin after a long haul flight and recharge my skin with vitamins B12, C, E.
3. Yoga Tree Savasana Aromatherapy Roll On - The name says it all, the lavender and chamomille oil contained in this roll on helps me de-stress and relax anytime on the go.
4. Lipstick by ILIA Natural Cosmetics (Shade: Perfect Day) -This lipstick combines organic ingredients with contemporary colors blended into a creamy semi-matte finish.
5. Swell Bottle- Fits nicely in my travel bag or carry on and keeps my boys (Preston & Connor) hydrated anytime on the go.
6. Jahnavi Mala Beads Necklace - I bring this necklace with me on my travels to remind myself and my family of how fortunate we are and to be grateful of what we have. The Jahnavi project was created as an initiative to improve the quality of life of the Garhwali people in India. All proceeds from this mala project goes to improve education and educational infrastructure for the children in Uttarkashi.
The Rudraksha beads, actually a seed, are known to last up to 8 generations. They are believed to increase clarity, calm the nervous system, the mind, and free negative thoughts.
Special thanks to Debbie for taking the time to be interviewed for "Women Entrepreneurs on the Go". If you know an Entrepreneur, or are an Entrepreneur who loves to travel that we should feature, please click here to contact us.