TRADITIONALLY THE TERM REFERRED TO WOMEN STARTING A BUSINESS OUT OF THEIR BASEMENT. THERE WAS A TIME WHEN THE TERM COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN WITH NEGATIVE CONNOTATION. BUT YOU REMEMBER JULIE AIGNERCLARK, OF BABY EINSTEIN, RIGHT? SHE STARTED HER COMPANY OUT OF HER BASEMENT AND SOLD IT TO DISNEY FOR AROUND 24 MILLION DOLLARS. NOTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT THAT. WE ARE SEARCHING FOR OUR OWN LOCAL “POSH BETTYS” WHO ARE REENTERING THE WORKPLACE AS ENTREPRENEURS. THIS ISSUE WE SAT DOWN WITH PILATES STUDIO OWNER MOJY AFSHARNIA.
Mojy, tell us a little about your yourself and your business?
I own and operate a Pilates studio from my home in Reston where I live with my husband and two children. I am originally from Iran and received my education in England. My journey into entrepreneurship actually stemmed from my personal battle with autoimmune disease. Suffering in the way I did, and using traditional medications to remedy my symptoms I refused to accept what the doctors were telling me, they were not enough for me. So I set out on a quest to heal myself and that I did. After years of research not only did I get off of medications, I healed my body through nutrition and exercise. I suppose I started practicing Pilates at the age of 21 because a herniated disc in my lower back and I started teaching Pilates completely unintentionally. I went to my first training of Pilates just to get some answers to my questions and my passion grew from there. Slowly I started to teach on the mat, then I got my first reformer and 12 years later I have an in home studio with seven reformers.
What made you decide to open a studio in your home?
I’m very lucky to have an amazing space in my basement that caters to my passion with a separate entrance for my clients. I have two children, so my job has to be fluid and flexible. My current set up works for everyone. I don’t have a long commute and my clients get the comfort of working out in private. My clients like the intimate setting that is not overpowering like a gym or a large studio.
How do you find your clients?
Word of mouth. I have a very loyal customer base.
What are the benefits of taking a class at your home studio vs. a gym?
Safety! Fun! Attention! I teach with another teacher, Barbara. We are obsessed with safety and personal limitations. We are always there to correct and help when needed at the time of need. There is no competition and unlike a large studio, none of our clients are ever lost.
The type of Pilates we teach is also different, it’s a cross between Pilates and the popular reformer exercise taught at solidcore studios. I aim to teach a tough and safe workout. It doesn’t hurt that I like luxury myself, so the studio is very “boutique”. We offer ionized, electrolyzed, alkaline water and towels. We use natural oils for disinfecting the machines. We are very environmentally friendly.
Most Pilates studios don’t get into nutrition.You like to work on nutrition too. Tell us about that.
It’s about the whole body from the inside out. What you put in is what you get. But unfortunately even clean eating is not enough anymore, so I try to educate those who want a better, healthier and younger looking life through nutritional products that I myself use several times. I am 50 and a living testament to what I teach.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?
Being a home studio comes with challenges. No one walks by and tries a class. They have to hear about it, see it, and believe in it. When our clients move, which happens more then we would like to see, it is a major bummer.
How do you stay current in your fitness and nutrition education?
I am certified and keep my education current by attending seminars, reading educational journals and staying involved in the wellness community.
What is next for you?
I want more. I want to inspire more. I want to help more. I want to enable more. I want to heal more. Just more…
What advice would you offer other women waiting to start their own businesses from home?
Do what you enjoy, what you’re passionate about. Don’t be afraid to take little risks. You can start small and grow slowly. It is always worth it in the end, even if you don’t succeed.