How Bronx community helped woman’s yoga business stay afloat after she became homeless amid Covid

Abu Mubarik October 17, 2021
Yosara owns a yoga studio. Photo credit: Instagram/Humans of NY

When COVID-19 struck, many businesses, particularly Black businesses, suffered or collapsed. One of such Black entrepreneurs that suffered was Bronx resident Yosara. She founded a yoga and dance studio but the business struggled to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yosara opened Sweet Water Dance and Yoga studio in the most challenging period of her life. At the time, she could not even afford a Yoga class. According to her, Yoga class has been the thing keeping her sane during law school.

However, due to financial constraints, she couldn’t afford to take one, and more significantly, her son was born prematurely. Yoasara needed a space to clear her mind of all the insane stuff happening around her, coupled with breastfeeding a baby.

She tells Humans of NY that her mother, who she described as a hustler, was running an insurance company. She said her mom gave her an office space she which she used to create her Yoga studio.

“When you walk in this space, you take a breath at how beautiful it is. Even if you’re tired and stressed—you’ll leave happy,” Yosara said of her Bronx yoga studio. “And that’s exactly what this community needs: a space to heal.”

She charged $20 per class and among other things, her plan was to help her Bronx community. But it wasn’t easy for her in the beginning.

“In the beginning, I was working 16 hours a day. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t getting paid. For the first five years I moved into the studio with my son,” she said. “Customers were watching me raise him with nothing but a hot plate, a fridge, and a toaster.”

While Yoasara’s plan was to help her community, she also wanted to make a profit. She also wanted to hire a few hands to assist her to run the studio but she couldn’t.

“I couldn’t get financing so we relied on these bullshit payday loans. Sometimes I couldn’t even pay my instructors on time. It wasn’t fair to them,” she said.

All classes had to stop when the pandemic struck and there was no help from banks, lenders or organizations. However, through the determination and support from some Bronx locals, her yoga studio was able to grow and she could afford to pay their instructors.

“…We caught up. We paid off all our debt, fair and square. We were growing beautifully.”

The locals also started investing in her business by buying annual membership. “They came to me and said: ‘I want to buy an annual membership,’ ‘I want to buy a lifetime.’ They said: ‘Can I lend?’, ‘Can I invest,’ ‘Can I get one percent?’ $5,000, $4,000, $3000 at a time,” she recalled. “I didn’t even know they had it. But they had it. They had me. My people had me. Artists, workers, mothers. Especially mothers. There were lots, and lots, of mothers.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 16, 2021


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