Boss Lady - Martha Richardson

Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

 

I have lived in Little Rock for 10 years, but I grew up in South Florida. After graduating high school I pursued a 15 year career as a professional ballet dancer, dancing with companies in Miami, North Carolina and New Orleans. 

My husband, Lee Richardson and I moved to Little Rock from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. My daughter, Fiona, was about three weeks old when we moved. I had never been to Arkansas, so, it was a big change! We have met so many nice people and have really put down some roots here. When my daughter was about three a friend introduced me to The Yoga Studio of Little Rock. I had practiced yoga and pilates for many years and I was looking for a place to settle in and it was a good fit. The studio has been downtown for about 15 years and was owned by Cliff Riggs. About 3 years ago, Cliff decided to retire and asked me to take over the studio. I was so honored and humbled  and, quite frankly, scared to death. But, I decided to take a chance and here I am!

I received my Iyengar Yoga Teacher Certification in 2016 and continue to travel to Dallas on a regular basis to study with my teacher, Randy Just. Over the last two years, I’ve made many changes to the studio - the most significant is that we only offer classes in the Iyengar method, taught by certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers (CIYT). Their are only five CIYT’s in the state of Arkansas, and we have three that teach at YSLR. The studio has really grown and we are hoping to move into a larger studio space by this Summer. I love our downtown location and our yoga community! 

 

  1. Give us your elevator pitch.  I am a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher (CIYT). One of only 5 certified teachers in the state of Arkansas.

  2. What is your business?  I own The Yoga Studio of Little Rock, downtown at 6th and Chester. We are the only yoga studio in Central Arkansas that offers Iyengar yoga taught by Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers

  3. When did you start your business?  I took over the studio from Cliff Riggs in 2014. It has been a mainstay of the downtown area for over 15 years.



  4. What inspired you to make the leap?  The opportunity presented itself and it seemed to make sense! After a 15 year career as a professional ballet dancer, I wanted to pursue something that was fun and was a good fit for my life as a Mom and for my family.

  5. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation??  I hate my alarm, but I love getting up early! I am usually awake before 6am and ready to get the day started. I do love a good Chai tea and a bagel. That usually gets me going.

  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  I teach 13 classes a week. Most of my classes are in the morning and I am finished by 1:30. Each day is different and I enjoy the variety of each level of class that I teach. We have a strong student base of dedicated practitioners. I enjoy going from teaching a beginner level class and then moving on to more advanced students. I try to keep my teaching fresh and innovative, which requires a lot of thought and planning. I love the Iyengar method so much because each pose can be done with modifications and various props so it can be different from day to day. It keeps me on my toes! In between my classes, I try to squeeze my personal practice in.



  7. What keeps you motivated?  My students and fellow teachers! It is so amazing to see people progressing in their practice. When you see people that a year ago couldn’t move without pain, coming to class with a smile on their face and a spring in their step, it makes all the hard work worth it.

  8. Describe your dream day.  I have a lot of scenarios for a dream day…. If I were to pick one it would probably revolve around a really long class with my teacher in Dallas, lunch and then just whatever came my way for the rest of the day with my family.

  9. What is your greatest strength/super power?  Resilience.



  10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat?  Facebook and Instagram.

  11. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!)  Hang out with my daughter Fiona, sewing and walking my dog

  12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it?  I would buy the old service station on Kavanaugh across from Mylo’s Coffee. Install a rope wall and have 2 studios so that we could offer more classes. That type of investment would allow me to offer free yoga to those that might not otherwise be able to afford classes.



  13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go?  I feel like I’ve been taking risks my whole adult life. So far,so good.

  14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable?  Recently I decided to make some changes that involved some teachers that had been affiliated with the studio and the previous owner. That was very difficult. However, the changes were necessary to solidify the direction of my business. Keeping the bigger picture in mind helps me tolerate the unpleasant side of owning a business.

  15. How do you handle discouragement?  Be with it for a minute and then keep moving forward.

  16. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote?  “If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud”  Emile Zola



  17. Who are you in your next life?  A librarian

  18. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  Go with your gut instinct. It’s usually right. Also, don’t try to please everyone. You will drive yourself crazy.

  19. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Surround yourself with inspiring people that encourage you, but most of all, trust yourself and be your own biggest fan.

Visit The Yoga Studio of Little Rock in person
at 910 W 6th St, Little Rock, AR 72201 
or
on social media:
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All Photos By: Saira Khan

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Boss Lady - Lara Kahler

   

Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

                                    Photo Credit: Elle Roman

I’m Lara. I’m from Little Rock and except for a short stint in rural Montana I’ve been here my whole life. I lived in West Little Rock as a child - - back when Reservoir Road backed up to a farm and the kids who lived there would sometimes ride their horses into my neighborhood - -and gradually migrated East. As a teenager my family lived mostly in Hillcrest and I graduated from Central High. My first apartment was at 10th and Scott and most of the folks in my sphere thought I was nuts for wanting to live downtown, and I was crazy for that old apartment building and the energy of the neighborhood. Flash forward more years than I like to count, and I’m still downtown. This time with a retail business on Main Street just five blocks from that first apartment and a warehouse project behind my old high school.

I’m sort of a late bloomer…didn’t start college with any seriousness until I had two young children and a full time job and even then I didn’t really mean to. I didn’t think that college was an option for me at the time, but working in the office of the president and CEO of Heifer International inspired me take a single UALR course on Sustainable Development. I loved taking that class so much I took another one. Then I took two. It took seven years, but I graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a minor in Gender Studies.

Being in retail was also something I just sort of fell into. I started creating staff and VIP gifts for Heifer’s president, which led to work as the coordinator for the Heifer Gift Shops, which led to working with the Clinton Museum Store, which led to managing the Store at Esse Purse Museum, which led to Moxy…  (A fun aside is that my first real job in high school was working at MM Cohn Department Store which was THE swanky store in Little Rock at the time. My desk at Moxy is a rescued fixture from the MM Cohn lingerie department given to me by our friends at Good Stuff Auction.)

                      Photo Credit: Nancy Nolan

  1. What is your business?  Jon Estelita and I own Moxy Modern Mercantile in the SoMa district of downtown Little Rock. We offer vintage and industrial furniture and décor along with a fresh and often irreverent mix of gifts and stationery. We love the quirky and have a knack for finding things that others might overlook. Our approach to decorating at home is pairing the old with the new to find that just right blend of fun and function and we bring this approach to our retail mix, too.

    As a sideline, I’m renovating a biggo warehouse behind Central High. It’s 20,000 square feet of concrete and steel that houses a workshop and storage for Moxy and when it’s complete, will offer studio space for artists and artisans.

  2. When did you start your business? Moxy officially opened Feb 11, 2014. We got the keys to our space at the tail end of October 2013 and spent three months readying the space. We were both employed full time elsewhere, so we were squeezing in renovating time where we could.

  3. What inspired you to make the leap?  I got a call from a friend letting me know about an upcoming storefront vacancy on Main Street. She asked if I knew of anyone looking who’d be a good fit or “maybe you…” Well, she planted a magic bean with that phone call. Jon and I made an appointment to see the space and without a clue as to what we were going to do with it, decided to take it on the spot.
  4. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation??  Gotta have the java in the a.m. and my daily call with my mother. We talk every day, usually in the morning, but if we miss our morning call we catch up in the evening. We talk about the events of the day and what’s on the horizon for the next. She is my partner in the warehouse project and a real inspiration to me. I come from a family with more than its share of strong, entrepreneurial women. My nana had a beauty shop in her basement where my cousins and I couldn’t resist spinning each other dizzy in the shampoo chair. All three of her daughters are business owners. My aunt, Susan Maddox owned a marketing firm in Dallas, before “retiring” to open Rosemont Bed & Breakfast here in Little Rock; and my mother and her other sister Sylvia Payne co-own Kahler Payne Antiques & Vintage in Hillcrest - - a sweet cozy shop, which coincidentally was once a beauty shop, and was where I learned the ins and outs of retail early. I spent my teenage years and young adulthood going to auctions with my mother and aunt and scouring estate sales on the hunt for great finds.

                                    Photo Credit: Hannah Carpenter

  5. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  I used to be a night owl but during the last few years, I’ve begun getting up earlier and earlier and find that I can make a lot happen before 10am. I typically am up around six and spend about an hour waking myself up, tending to pets (Fergus – a corgi, Mario – a terrier mix, and Stella, a highway kitty) and readying myself for the day. Then I spend time doing something around the warehouse. One of my current projects is removing carpet adhesive from a long corridor, so I might work on this for half an hour or so and then settle down for a quick chat with my mother. Before I leave for the store a little after ten, I work my list of phone calls that need to be made that day. I like getting these out of the way first thing to keep me from getting sidetracked by the day’s events. I hate remembering at 5 pm that I’d meant to get in touch with a contractor or vendor and have to wait for the following day to make the call. At the store, Jon manages the visual merchandising and customer service and I do all the behind the scenes business to support the store. On an average day, I’m sourcing new products, placing orders, entering inventory, paying consignors, balancing checkbooks...all the myriad odds and ins that it takes to run a business.
  6. What keeps you motivated?  I really enjoy the lifestyle we’ve created. I love that I almost never have to set an alarm clock and that I have a work partner who complements my skills so well and is so much fun to work with. And I love the response that our customers have to our store. It’s a terrific boost to overhear them laughing at some wacky thing and enjoying themselves. Jon and I both get a lot of positive affirmations from their comments. “This is my favorite store!” will keep us going for a long while.
  7. Describe your dream day.  Lounging in a posh hut set in a secluded tropical cove with an unending supply of fruity drinks and a loaded Kindle.

                      Photo Credit: Nancy Nolan

  8. What is your greatest strength/super power?  I’d say my greatest strength is being a can-do girl….sometimes I just don’t stop to consider that I’ve never done something before and have no experience, so not realizing that I “can’t” I just go ahead and do it. Having a knack for asking the right questions and finding the right people to ask is also a big help.

  9. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat?  Instagram. I find lots of inspiration on Instagram, @hannahacarpenter, @bellavitajewelry are two of my favorites. I’m inspired by Hannah’s simple, perfectly compelling photography and aesthetic (I’m sure it’s not as easy as she makes it look) and Brandy is such an amazing business woman. She’s always got something new in the works. Her hustle makes me want to reach higher and work harder.
  10. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) Most evenings I take a half hour to sit on the loading dock at Moxy Warehouse (aka my back porch) with a mocktail. I enjoy watching the trains go by while I reflect on the happenings of the day. It’s a terrific reading spot, too and with a little over an acre I have my very own dog park.

    I really enjoy what I do. So my work is my also my play. In my “down time” I find inspiration exploring other stores online or in person, traveling to trade shows and flea markets. The same goes with the warehouse renovation - - chipping damaged plaster from a wall or painting a rusty railing are leisure time activities for me…so I’m really lucky.

                                        Photo Credit: Saira Khan

  11. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? Hire staff. Launch an online store. Open a Moxy in a major city or two. Design and produce a line of retro-inspired furnishings. And finish the warehouse renovations complete with solar panels. Okay, I might need 2 million.
  12. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go?  Jacking up my personal credit cards to open a store….we just celebrated our third anniversary with expanding our sales floor and are now operating with a line of credit.  So far, so good.
  13. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable?  Tooting my own horn. I struggle with posting on social media. I’m really most comfortable being behind the scenes, and it’s a little tough for me to even brag about the store. However, I understand that we have to get Moxy news out there. We can have an amazing store but if no one knows about it we won’t have it for long. Another thing I try to keep in mind, is how much I love seeing what others are up to. A glimpse inside a maker’s workshop or an artist’s studio is always fascinating to me, and I enjoy following my favorite shops - - so just maybe folks want to see what we’re doing, too.

  14. How do you handle discouragement? I take a nap and then go at “it” harder from a different angle. Unfortunately, for Jon, I may also vent to him before rallying to face something hard. He’s really good about listening even when he’s probably heard that vent before.

                      Photo Credit: Saira Khan

  15. Which iconic person inspires you?  I love Oprah Winfrey. I recently read her book “What I Know for Sure” and found inspiration on virtually every page.
  16. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote?  “It doesn’t matter how deep the water is, as long as you keep swimming.”
  17. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose?  I’d really like to work with marketing guru Seth Godin. 

                       Photo Credit: Saira Khan

  18. Who are you in your next life? A Maine Coon cat.
  19. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  I’ve learned that having two consecutive days off is important to me. I inevitably work during some part of both days but having the time to fill as I “want” to and not as I “need” to is a real gift.
  20. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs?  Acknowledge your fear and keep going.

                        Photo Credit: Nancy Nolan

Moxy Modern Mercantile social media:
Instagram: @moxymodernmercantile 
Facebook

Photographer social media:
Nancy Nolan
Hannah Carpenter
Saira Khan

 

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