We had the good fortune of connecting with Blair Douglas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Blair, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Early in the pandemic, when many yoga studios were closing, I really thought about the relationship between studios and teachers. It occurred to me how studios undervalued and underpaid their teachers. Further, they restricted many teachers’ freedoms and creative juices to customize their classes. As a yoga instructor myself, I believe teachers who have dedicated so much time advancing their knowledge and skills beyond the basic 200 hour training should be provided a space to teach where they can design classes as they see fit and make 100% of the revenue from each class they teach. Malachite was designed as a co-op for this very purpose; instructors pay a small dues fee every month (to help cover the co-op’s operating fees) and in return instructors can list as many classes as they’d like on the platform, including setting their own class prices (of which they keep everything). Another driving factor behind starting Malachite was the need to step up and support communities that in the past haven’t felt welcome by they yoga community. I saw many large name yoga studios posting on social media about supporting BLM and LGBTQ, but to the best of my knowledge the love stopped there. They never dedicated classes to those communities, gave money to support those causes, or even asked those communities what they could do to support them. To me, that is not yoga. I realized if I didn’t like what was happening then I needed to do something about it. So I was inspired to create Malachite to reframe how people see yoga and to open the door to all people to experience yoga taught by highly educated instructors. Yoga is therapeutic and should be shared with everyone, allowing them to feel loved and be seen. I encourage all Malachite instructors to support communities they care about and help raise money and awareness about their causes.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started Malachite Yoga for different reasons than most studios do. I wanted a space where the main priority was putting the instructors and yoga therapists first, not the clients. By taking care of the root system of the company first, the rest will flourish and grow. At Malachite, the instructors are the root system, and it’s important to me to give them a voice and my full support to teach what is authentic to each of them. I feel they are then able to give that back to their students and clients so that they may have a higher quality and more authentic experience. I spent many years being frustrated with how typical yoga studios structured their instructor pay system, which undervalued most, if not all, instructors. Anytime a problem came up or support was needed, it fell on deaf ears. Studios prioritized making money, growing their name, and appealing to what they thought the students wanted. I understand with any business that you must make money and you want the customer to be happy, but if you lose the trust of your staff (who are technically the product/service), you’ve started to kill off the root system of your company. In my eyes, yoga is a therapeutic gift that deserves respect. If you’ve ever thought consciously about your breath, you’ve done yoga. Yoga means “to unite” – two simple words that live in my heart every day. Malachite is a home for instructors and yoga therapists that also live this love in their hearts. They each have spent years and thousands of dollars learning how to best share yoga to the world through their eyes and voice. Malachite was built for them to spread their knowledge, and for all yoga lovers and skeptics to have an opportunity to work with us and trust we have the education to support them in whatever they need that day. I wouldn’t say this journey has been easy but it is uniquely beautiful in the way it started to unfold. I’ve always loved learning, but having dyslexia and ADD made that sometimes a much more challenging process then many of my peers. One of the lessons I’ve learned is to use my strengths early and often to gain an advantage to succeed. And in the area I struggled I became an advocate for myself. I thrived in arts and any space I was able to use creativity. I was good at problem solving and time management. My childhood was not easy between all the tutoring and countless hours spent over homework trying not to burst into tears. But we’ve all have struggled in one way or another. The difference is how you learn and overcome that struggle. In college I thrived in my art classes spending most of the weekend working on pieces for hours. I was in love with the process and end result, and I still am to this day. Art played a huge role in the development of my voice in this world, just as much as yoga has. About 3 months into the pandemic something finally clicked in me, waking me up from a dark place I had fallen into while trying to adjust to the new normal of quarantine, lock-downs, and zoom meetings. I started my second 300 hour teacher training, this time focusing on Yoga Therapy. That started to reinvigorate the fire in me that had been dim for quite some time. One day while my partner Micheal was making coffee in our kitchen, I told him I want to bounce an idea off him, a business idea. I began to explain that I wanted to start a yoga co-op for highly educated instructors and yoga therapists with diverse backgrounds, who I felt deserved to be paid better and supported more fully by their communities. I also wanted to create a platform where they could work with communities and organizations they supported and wanted to bring awareness to. And I wanted this co-op’s website to be user friendly and beautiful like a piece of art. He could tell I was excited and said I think we can definitely make that happen, but first you need to research if anyone else has done this yet. So I went to work googling everything I could think of. I found there were other yoga co-ops but none that catered to only highly educated teachers giving them the opportunity to customize their offerings, spread love, and actually help the causes they care about. I realized I didn’t have a model to work from. Malachite was going to be built from the ground up. When I started Malachite, I knew it was important to find a name that truly represented my intentions with the company. So I researched numerous plants, rocks and stones, making a list of ones I connected with and their meanings. I wrote down the names of five plants and five stones on note cards and put them in a basket. I slowly pulled them out one by one, pairing them together to see if something would stick. I narrowed down to one plant and one stone, but Michael suggested I narrow it down further to just a single name to make it simpler. He then asked what do each of the plant and stone names mean? I told him and almost immediately we knew the name would be Malachite Yoga. A malachite stone represents transformation and healing. Also green is my favorite color and represents the heart chakra. My company, Malachite yoga, was me transforming yoga back into what I felt had been forgotten by so many studios. We are here to spread love and self healing to all, not just those who can afford it. Malachite’s creation has brought me great joy as I’ve started sharing it with others and received positive feedback. When asked how I came up with the structure, I respond that I gave myself the opportunity to run free and leave the rule book of building a business behind because in the end Malachite is not just a business it’s a movement to be shared with everyone. The instructors and yoga therapists on the website and behind the scenes have truly helped inspire me to keep going and trust in the road ahead. The website is my conceptual interpretation of my home. I want you to feel welcomed and loved each time you visit. Someday we hope to have in-person classes and yoga therapy sessions in a brick and mortar location (once the pandemic passes) as well as continue our online offerings. But for now we are a small company with a big heart, and as we continue growing, I hope you will join us in that journey. I’ll leave you with this. If you can afford to buy a Malachite stone, please do. If you can afford to buy more than one, then buy one for someone who can’t and give it to them. Carry it with you, and each time you look at it take in a deeper breath, gift yourself the opportunity to open your heart more to the world. Each day is a new adventure in transformation.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a tough one given all of the pandemic restrictions in place now, but assuming things were back to normal, here are some of my favorite places and things to do around Denver: EAT/DRINK/HANG: Breakfast – Snooze, Lucilles, Denver Biscuit Company Lunch & Dinner- D’Corazon, Cuba Cuba, Tommy’s Thai, Blue Pan Pizza, Cherry Cricket, Quiero Arepas, Park Burger, Potager Drinks – Union Station, Ramble Hotel, Urban Farmer, Quality Italian, Larimer Square, Milk Market Dessert – Sweet Cooie’s, Sweet Cow ACTIVITIES: Take lots of classes at Kindness Yoga (unfortunately, Kindness Yoga is now closed) See a show at Comedy Works in downtown Denver Get massages and/or facials at the Denver Integrative Massage School Have lunch at the Denver Botanical Gardens Walk in Cheeseman Park and or have a picnic as well Watch a local criterium bike race (at City Park, Golden Triangle, or Wheat Ridge) Take a dip in the hot springs at Eldorado Springs Pool near Boulder Explore the Cheese Importer in Longmont, along with a visit to my mom’s house and 14 acre property for dinner. Invite friends over for dinner and drinks
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout love goes to: -Micheal Murphy for trusting in my vision and helping me build a custom website to make my dream possible. – My mom Julia Bottom for teaching me to be strong and to spread love and support to others. -My friends who have been so supportive of my dream and helping any way they can to make it happen. – Michele Lawrence director of Inner Peace Yoga Therapy teaching and encouraging me that I’m on the right path. -All my sisters in my Inner Peace Yoga Therapy Denver cohort group for lifting me up and joining me on my mission. -And to all the lovely souls I’ve learned from in my life who help shape the person I’ve become.
Blair Douglas Bryan Edward Andrew Clark Galen Neil