Shaktibarre Women’s Collective.
When I was in the 8th grade, a firefighter explained to all us youngsters in the school auditorium that very few people have the mental and physical means with which to help others. After a run-down of statistics as far as how many firefighters make the program and how many end up saving lives, I felt memorably empowered to dedicate the rest of my life to serving those in need.
Exasperated by disempowerment in traditional schools, I taught 9th graders mindfulness through literature. They couldn’t watch movies, attend field trips, or even do yoga. So, I assigned passages and prompts related to Eastern philosophies (cleverly Common Core-aligned) to improve self-awareness in students from a city allocating more funds to incarceration than learning. The Yoga and Mindful Literature Initiative for Girls manifested when Kathy (with newspaper taped to the door’s window so no administration could see) wrote her very first poem on something she had never before verbalized—her dad raped her at age 4.
YoGirls Program was born out of new life’s most poignant paradigm—echoing trauma and profound hope. What is it about the freedom to read and write that encourages my students to heal? Is mindful literature responsible for the award-winning test scores they achieve every year? I took her research to Harvard and incorporated as an NYC non-profit for at-risk girls. But what about their aunts, mothers, grandmas? Yoga is a $10-billion, 82% female-driven industry, but culturally non-diverse and expensive studios mean 39% of practitioners stay at home. How can we empower women of all ages and backgrounds?
Now 5, YoGirls Program aims to build a big sister—SHAKTIBARRE WOMEN’S COLLECTIVE, a center that underscores our social responsibility to increase gender equality by doing everything we can to holistically educate communities of women.
SHAKTIBARRE WOMEN’S COLLECTIVE supports women from every spectrum with yoga and barre classes at sliding-scale prices, an organic cafe and workspace, and empowering events for accessible, sustainable wellness. We also proudly sponsor YoGirls Program!
The Kiva Zip Loan means we can build the first yoga studio empowering women from every background with wellness education. Why does wellness education matter and what are we doing about it?
(1) Once again, 82.2% of the yoga industry is female—with so many of us in one place, talk about an amazing opportunity to educate women and girls!
(2) Educating women and girls means closing gender gaps = increasing life expectancy, fostering academic achievement, broadening access to economic opportunity, leveraging equality in household and societal voice, and creating more political and economic agents of positive change.
(3) We actively, purposefully, and measurably improve women’s empowerment overall, and more specifically to all types of women! Did you know 77% of practitioners are White and 44% of them make over $75,000 annually? Our sliding-scale prices help women pay for yoga and barre classes based on their income, so everyone can participate!
(4) Now that everyone can participate, we will focus on improving health statistics (36.4% of women over 20 are obese, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer, 13.7% of us report being in poor or fair health) with community-focused events and workshops in our wellness education room.
(5) And oh yes, that wellness education room also has a vast library of empowering books because 493 million women still can’t read while as, “All evidence shows that investment in literacy for women yields high development dividends.”
With the Kiva Zip Loan, we also commit to donating 10% of net sales to our non-profit YoGirls Program so the girls can attend for free. Please consider helping us move forward with our accessible and sustainable mission for women from every spectrum!
This loan is crucial to helping me grow the business as the first step to helping the community is establishing a physical space. Having been in a women’s-only business accelerator (Circular Board) for the last few months and in issues of various magazines (Wanderlust, Tribe de Mama, Yoga Digest, Origin Magazine, Yoga International, etc), women have their eyes on us and want to know when and where we are opening.
The location we have chosen puts us in the ideal position to be accessible to women from multiple backgrounds, both cultural and socioeconomic. It also allows us to acquire members that will pay at the higher price point, and those that can only afford the lower price point (as our memberships are sliding-scale).
The first thing I will do with our $10,000 is get back in touch with the New York Small Business Solutions Center to apply for them to match the money with the other 80% of our startup costs. From there, I will have approximately $50,000. I will use that not only to sign our lease, as previously stated, but also to ensure operating costs and build out for the next 6 months.
As you can see, the $10,000 Kiva Zip Loan is the crucial first step in establishing a real place in the community, as well as securing additional funding for our expansion efforts.