Brittany Phelps Romano is the first to admit how challenging owning a yoga studio is. She opened her first studio in Crested Butte in 2017 and quickly learned how many various skill-sets it takes, from marketing and human resources to accounting, sales and merchandise. That’s why she founded Thrive Yoga Studio.
The brand supports 80 yoga teachers in seven studios — Crested Butte, Gunnison, Eagle, Frisco, Fruita and two locations in College Station, Texas — with business resources they need, including development workshops, administration and marketing.
“I want to eliminate [for other teachers] the years of poor decisions, business mistakes and hard lessons I had,” she says. “I want to give people as many opportunities to connect with each other and practice how to sustain a studio.”
Romano’s business model revolves around cooperation, rather than competition. With support, she believes we can collectively create a better world — one studio at a time.
“Now is an important time for yoga studios, because so many have closed, and so many people are fearful of gatherings and the economy. It’s a profound time to step into wellness-based spaces. People need it now more than ever,” she believes. “I have this thought that if there was a yoga studio in every part of America, it would be a completely different country.”
Her goal: to provide tools for people to live meaningful, expressive and joyous lives through yoga.
BECOMING A YOGI-PRENEUR
Romano first started practicing yoga in high school but completely fell in love with it in 2008 when she lived in an ashram on the Big Island of Hawaii. There, she discovered the power of daily practices and rituals — even little hand gestures throughout the day, based on purification.
“I was looking for clarity, direction and was in pursuit of a clear, well-intended lifestyle,” she recalls.
Now, meditation, movement and breathing shapes her life. She surrounds herself with others who also pursue self-knowledge, clarity of mind and a life full of intention. And, that has allowed her to step outside her comfort zone and grow even more.
So far, starting Thrive Yoga has been the “greatest adventure of my life, full of taking risks, facing fears, accepting challenges, developing patience, adapting to environments and evolving to live into my highest potential,” she says. “I have become intimately aware that it’s not about the summit. It is about each individual’s journey to thrive, to live a meaningful life and to do work that benefits all beings.”
After a steep learning curve, Romano opened three studios by 2019. In 2020, she licensed her brand as Thrive Yoga Studios. Last year, she expanded to Gunnison, Frisco and Texas and is working on opening more locations. Each studio has its own particular flavor, based on the community, owners’ passions and diverse instructors.
Romano teaches at one of the newest studios in Frisco, which acts as a community gathering space, both on and off the yoga mat. In addition to daily yoga classes, Thrive Yoga Summit offers special events and ceremonies for people with a range of movement abilities and spiritual growth stages. It also partners with community agencies, like Summit Advocates, which has given a presentation about domestic violence awareness, followed by a trauma-informed yoga class.
“Being part of Thrive Yoga has helped tremendously in figuring out logistics,” says Thrive Yoga Summit owner Mia Tarduno. “It helps with every aspect of how to start a business, from financial investments to programming.”
Romano helps Tarduno keep an eye not just on daily business operations, but also on short- and long-term goals.
“Brittany is one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met, and 99% of that work is for other peoples’ benefit,” Tarduno says. “She works so hard to make sure people feel accounted for and loved and supported.”
Whether it’s her studio owners or yoga students, Romano gets to know everyone on a personal basis.“
She really relates to people inside and outside of the studio,” Tarduno shares. “She has an individual relationship to every single one of the students.”
As an instructor, she reminds people to “hug themselves, to stay connected to who they are. To be quiet and to drop beneath your thoughts is incredibly renewing.” As founder of Thrive Yoga Studios, she reminds studio owners to apply the principles of yoga in their daily lives as they teach, lead, interact with the world and go about their personal and professional lives.
“If people want to open a studio, we want to support them,” she says. “We’re holding space. We want to see people be successful.
Photos courtesy of Brittany Phelps Romano.
Originally published in Summer + Fall 2022 Issue.