Peace Love Yoga Opens Second Location in GlassboroLast Edited:
"I’m a gambler. A risk-taker. I hate the mundane. I’m always looking for ways to spice it up,” says Natalie Vargas-Suppi, owner of Peace Love Yoga. Her gambles are paying off. Her Vineland studio in Lincoln Plaza has seen phenomenal growth. She recently opened a studio in a bustling shopping plaza in Glassboro that already has 17 classes and nine instructors. She sits with her legs folded completely under her and her back ballet-straight—it’s a calm pose, yet she has an energy and enthusiasm that would rival any motivational speaker.
“I used to be a spaz. Yoga taught me things are not such a big deal. What you learn on the mat is how to approach things off the mat. You can get into uncomfortable, tricky circumstances and you can still breathe and be present. If you can’t fix it, you let it go.”
Vargas-Suppi’s first experience with yoga didn’t capture her. “It was too slow,” she says. “I was not awake to it.”
She returned to yoga after having her first child. “I was looking for ways to get into shape. I had no money and no time. I did yoga on demand. It was OK. It was alright.”
Then she moved to Del Ray, Florida. “The yoga game was just bumping. They had free yoga, hard yoga, community yoga.”
She applied to be a retail manager for Lululemon, a retail store that sells yoga clothes and running gear, as it was opening its doors. The woman she interviewed with wanted her to come to her yoga class. “I hadn’t worked out in years. It was 90-minute power hot yoga. I was nervous, excited, and didn’t want to embarrass myself. I found it all interesting—a challenge. I come out soaking wet and full of energy.”
She got the job, which also paid for yoga classes. She started going to yoga three to five times a week and fell in love with it. “I never left the mat after that. Yoga is a way of life, a way of being.”
To explain, she pulls up a Yoga Manifesto, credited to Gandee Vason: “This yoga is for everyone. This sweating and breathing and becoming. This knowing glowing feeling. Is for the big, small, weak and strong…The mighty and the meek. Bones that creak, Those who seek…Yoga to the People.”
When her mom was put on hospice care, Vargas-Suppi moved back to New Jersey. She got a job with Puma in Atlantic City. It was right after Hurricane Sandy. “Atlantic City was a cesspool of craziness. I’m trying to go to yoga studios but it’s boring here. They’re not intermediate. So I enrolled in an instructor’s course because yoga had only brought me to good places and I can engage people with it. I started teaching at The Firm in Vineland. I started with five students, then 10, then 15, then 22 members in four weeks. I’m doing the math. Mind you, this is also in the day and age of social media. And guerilla yoga. People are doing yoga everywhere. I’m just putting myself out there—the yoga chick. ‘Hey let’s meet at the park.’ ” Vargas-Suppi quickly gained a following for her classes.
“In a pillow talk conversation with my husband, I’m talking about how no one is doing yoga in Cumberland County like in Del Ray. He says, ‘Build it and they will come.’ I ran with it. I become Peace Love Yoga and get my LLC.”
In September 2013 Vargas-Suppi had her first class under her own business. It was in what she calls “The Box,” a section of a CrossFit gym. “I had 23 people.”
It soon became clear that she needed her own space; her ranks were growing. She opened the Lincoln Avenue location and by September 2014, just a year after starting her business, had 120 members.
Today, the Lincoln Avenue location has 26 classes and more than 15 instructors. “We only do yoga, not Pilates, dance, etc.”
But they have a diverse offering of classes—chair, pre-natal, power, sweaty and more. “Absolutely we have beginner classes. But we’re not just going to focus on beginners. Once you feel like you’re not going to grow, you’re not going to go.”
Vargas-Suppi challenges her instructors to “have an exciting play list. I want to know what’s different than last month.”
She says she knows the importance of service and offering quality classes. She uses everything she’s learned from her career in retail. “Everything I’ve done, good or bad, has been training for this pivotal moment of my life.”
She gives her husband a lot of credit. When she started Peace Love Yoga, she was a general manager in Atlantic City, working 45 to 50 hours a week, with a respectable commute on top of that.
“We had two kids. Plus, I was teaching yoga 10 hours a week. My husband at the time was home with the kids. To say I couldn’t have done it without him is an understatement.”
She left her day job just two years ago. “I only just stopped working when I was pregnant with my third child and we had bought and were renovating our house.”
This was about the time she first found out about the Glassboro opportunity. A yoga studio had opened there, but closed four months later. Her husband told her that he thought she should check it out.
“I took a peek through the windows, but said, ‘ I think I’m not interested.’ My husband was disappointed. But I just looked once and let it go. Fast forward and the baby is four months old. I’m hearing, ‘You should get another studio.'”
Still knowing that the Glassboro studio space is almost turn-key, she doesn’t bite. “Then in March, I met this girl named Myranda [Cain], from teaching and training. I asked her to look at the location with me—to be my studio partner. Now I have my tribe. My friends, family, instructors, the baby is there—all looking at it with me. She told them, ‘If you’re committed to helping me run it, it feels right.’ ” She signed the lease that day.
“Glassboro is a unique community. The census shows that it has three times the population in a five-mile radius than Vineland. The average household income is $85,000. If I can make Vineland work, this is a goldmine. I’m really securing my future. I also know it’s a lot of hard work, but I’m not afraid of hard work.”
The studio space is larger than Vineland with a second yoga room and even additional space in the back of the building for future expansion. Though she has Rowan University students in her classes, her studio caters more to those she calls the “tax-paying members of Gloucester County.”
A yoga studio also recently opened on the Rowan campus, but she’s not worried. “It’s not competition, just different strokes for different folks. We have our own vibe. It’s warm, intense, vigorous, challenging.”
Vargas-Suppi has already been able to craft a different schedule for herself. “If I can cook my family breakfast five mornings a week, have dinner five nights a week, and get my kids off the bus—that’s success.”
Being her own boss also agrees with her: “All of my ideas are approved. If not, it just cost me. I didn’t fail. I just figured out what doesn’t work.”
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