I have had the pleasure of working with a beautiful soul who is the owner of a gem in Downtown Hartford. Natasha is the owner of Bikram Yoga studio, which is a one–of-a-kind place that plays an intimate role in the community.
Photo taken by Humans of Hartford
Hartford Girl: Why did you start Bikram Yoga Downtown Hartford?
PicturePhoto taken by Humans of Hartford
Natasha: After graduating from UCONN School Of Business in 2005, I went straight into a sales job in the insurance industry and started my career there.  In January 2008 I took my first Bikram Yoga class (looking for stress-reduction, weight loss & exercise), and I fell in LOVE with it.  I was a total "yoga-newbie" but I was hooked right away.  I knew I wanted to open my own studio someday to combine my passion for yoga with my passion for entrepreneurship.  I took the 9 week Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in California in Spring 2009, came back to my insurance job and started teaching yoga on the side right away.  Almost immediately thereafter, I dove into writing my business plan, and (lonnnng story short) two years later, I opened the doors to BYDH!  It's the most challenging AND rewarding thing I've ever done, by far; as the old saying goes, "If you're doing what you love, you'll never work a day in your life."  This is my life's work and I am always so excited for what each new day brings.

Hartford Girl: Why did you choose Hartford?

PicturePhoto taken by Humans of Hartford
Natasha: I grew up in the greater Hartford area and wanted to stay local.  When considering locations, my husband chimed in, "...why not Hartford!?"  He is a 3rd generation family business owner (Roggi's Automotive); Hank and his father have seen Hartford's ups and downs, good times and bad, and they both agreed that Hartford is definitely on the "up and up" so strike while the iron is hot!  I took advantage of the affordable prime retail rent prices here on Main Street and started marketing towards all the hospitals, employers, universities and apartment buildings downtown!  It's been a great city to do business with, and the support from all the locals who want to see Hartford grow and its businesses thrive has been truly motivational from day one!

Hartford Girl: What is your biggest challenge with running BYDH in Hartford?

Natasha: The biggest challenge thus far has definitely been parking.  Simply stated, that's my biggest hurdle!  It's tough to get folks to come in from the suburbs when they're intimidated by the city and not really sure where to park.  I created a page on my website with lots of helpful information on where to park and what the rates are, I have a great relationship with the Temple Street garage (and they were kind enough to offer a discounted rate to my students coming to class, but it's still $4 for 2 hours of parking), however the street signs are so confusing to first-timers coming downtown and if they get a ticket they're really discouraged from coming back again.  I do the best I can to educate everyone, but still, it is definitely a challenge for BYDH.

I recently had the pleasure of working with Natasha and BYDH for a Sunday Fun Day charity yoga class. Proceeds from this exciting fundraiser benefitted Hope 4 Autism, a nonprofit organization I founded. Join me for a special introductory rate: UNLIMITED classes for two weeks for only $20. Learn more by visiting the BYDH website here, in the Hartford Girl black book here or just stop in. And don't forget to check out BYDH's feature post on Humans of Hartford, Hartford Girl and the Love Hartford Instagram accounts!

Check out BYDH black book listing here. I hope to see you in the BYDH hot room soon!  

-Carmen "Hartford Girl" Veal

Learn more about the We Love Hartford Project created by three lovers' of Hartford:
Humans of Hartford, Love Hartford & Hartford Girl, here!

February 2, 2015, kicks off the We Love Hartford project, made possible by three lovers’ of Hartford who all play intimate roles in this city’s dynamic growth!

Join us as we explore gems (small businesses) in and around Hartford, offering them FREE marketing and advertising with each of our networks, and as we connect the community to the businesses. Using the official #welovehartford #hartfordgirl #lovehartford #humansofhartford Instagram hashtags, the community can keep up with what's next!

Every other Monday, beginning February 2nd, we will:
1. Highlight a different Hartford business.
2. Offer an exclusive perk for a guest to support the establishment*
3. Advertise the highlighted business for FREE on the Hartford Girl website and
Hartford Girl Instagram as well as the Love Hartford Instagram accounts. All official We Love Hartford Project photos will be taken by, and occasionally featured on, the Humans of Hartford Instagram account.
4. Our final We Love Hartford highlight will conclude on Monday, June 22 with a special We Love Hartford crew feature the morning of and happy hour celebration later that evening.  UPDATE: the We Love Hartford Vendor Market will now take place during the 2nd annual 
hARTford Art Crawl.   Half of the proceeds from the vendor market will benefit homelessness in Hartford.

Once the We Love Hartford Project concludes, we pledge to continue playing an intimate role in Hartford's growth and in connecting Hartford residents and visitors with the hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems in the capital city!

Interested in sponsoring or becoming a vendor? Submit you details below and we will be in touch with you soon!

    Vendor Submissions for the We Love Hartford Vendor Market on Saturday June 27, 2015 from 11-5PM.