Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan Higgins.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Susan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve been a fashion designer for corporate retail companies for 19 years, mainly in NYC, until I moved to Dallas to work for a corporation here. I started practicing yoga after being diagnosed w/ ulcerative colitis in 2009. One of my good friends & co-worker at the time who moonlighted as a yoga teacher told me I needed to start taking yoga because stress had a lot to do with triggering the ulcerative colitis flare-ups. I took her up on her advice on a trip to LA that I took after I was diagnosed to clear my head. I fell in love with yoga on that trip as I found an amazing studio in the Venice Beach area that was very traditional. I learned breathwork there and I found it so relaxing. As a result, yoga became my primary workout.
Fast forward to 2012 a year and a half after moving to Dallas with this company that relocated me here and I was laid off. I was all set on going back to NYC as my tenant broke the lease, so my condo was vacant, so it seemed like the perfect thing to do. During the time that I was researching moving companies I had an epiphany in a yoga class which gave me the strong urge that I needed to go to yoga teacher training. I spoke to several of the teachers at the studio I practiced at and they spoke very highly of the yoga teaching program that this particular studio put on. There surprisingly was a class starting very soon after I started inquiring and after talking it over w/ my family and boyfriend at the time I went for it and signed up. I figured when else in my life will I have time to learn a new skill while getting severance and unemployment.
I taught in the studios of the studio that put on the training for about 6-9 months when training ended. During that time, I started teaching private lessons out of my loft, at parks, at clients’ offices, homes, etc. That summer, I went on a trip to Jamaica and a friend of a friend that was on the trip told me about a type of yoga called BUTI yoga where it’s a mix of yoga, with plyometrics and African dance. I watched a few videos on YouTube and fell in love and became obsessed with it and just had to teach it. I went to Denver summer of 2013 & did the training in one weekend.
Right after returning to Dallas, someone connected me to a woman who was about to open something like a fitness co-working studio & was looking for other fitness teachers. Meaning it was the same concept of co-working in the way that it was a shared space but each person had their own designated times to teach their class. All of the classes were independently ran by the teacher as their own business. Therefore there was no one price membership where you can take everyone’s classes. My students paid me directly, and so did everyone else’s. We all paid rent. I paid someone to do my logo. I set up a photo shoot to get images for the website. I took the logo and images and created the website. Fashionista Yoga was born! I mainly focused on teaching BUTI yoga during this time because I didn’t see too many people in Dallas teaching it, so it seemed like it wasn’t saturated yet. I maintained this studio for about two years while going back to full-time employment & having a Fashion Design contracting business on the side as well. I ended up taking a pause from the yoga business because I needed to regroup as the business wasn’t growing due to my lack of effort on marketing and I was putting out so much money for rent every month.
A few months after taking a break from my business being in a yoga studio, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in January of 2016. As a result, I have a lot of damage to my wrists and hands and I have had to modify my yoga practice tremendously because I cannot do all of the things I used to be able to do because of the pain and damage. I still continue to do yoga almost everyday for myself but haven’t been able to give much to others, so I’ve taken a long break from teaching.
A few years ago, I was at a yoga class on the roof of Bottled Blond and a friend of mine was with me and told me how much she admired my “I don’t give af” attitude when it comes to my yoga practice and my physical condition. She said she thought it was so admirable to watch me in the front of every yoga class with the hand standers and head standers with my wrist braces & any other props I used to help my practice not be painful. That really stuck with me & I soon was inspired to want to teach other people w/ my condition or similar conditions to live their lives unconditionally af despite their conditions.
As a result, I now have relaunched my business Fashionista Yogi as a virtual yoga studio teaching people modified yoga that have pain and injuries mainly focused on people with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it hasn’t. Struggles have been, being laid off, being diagnosed with not just one, but a second autoimmune disease. Then my body is becoming damaged and weak as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. Times when I flare up with rheumatoid arthritis I can’t even lift my arms over my head because my shoulders lock up. Struggles w/ my business by not marketing properly, therefore not attracting new clients, which lead me to close my doors and regroup on how I would approach teaching yoga going forward.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I teach people that have pain and injuries mainly in their hands and wrists to do yoga in a modified way that is gentle on their joints. My overall message that I stand for is that people can live unapologetically af despite their conditions. I empower people with this message through documenting my real-life journey first hand dealing with Rheumatoid arthritis and continuing to do yoga everyday, traveling the world, & thriving in a demanding career. I teach the message of living unapologetic af through mindset and meditation work, the physical work of teaching modified yoga, and by creating meal plans & plant-based nutrition tips to help my clients move into a plant-based lifestyle. I mainly teach digitally either one on one or in a group coaching setting.
What I’m most proud of as a company is staying true to myself & my authenticity. And not letting adversity get in my way of showing up & shifting the business to suit where I’m at at the time with the intentions on helping others. What sets me apart from others is that I’m not only teaching people with pain and injuries and rheumatoid arthritis how to modify their practice, I actually have rheumatoid arthritis and know what the pain feels like that my clients are experiencing.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The quality or characteristic that I feel is most important to my success is my drive to keep going despite my conditions.
- 60 min virtual private session via zoom $75
- 1x per week for 1 month 60 min virtual private session via zoom (4 total sessions) $280
- 2x per week for 1 month 60 min virtual private session via zoom (8 total sessions) $560
- 3x per week for 1 month 60 min virtual private session via zoom (12 total sessions) $780
- Website: fashionistayogi.com
- Phone: 214-865-8450
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @fashionistayogi
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fashionistayogi/
1. Personal photo by a photographer in Dallas named Ken Smith Jr. aka “Ice”
2. The photo w/ me assisting a student by holding her hands down was by “M. Knight” also out of Dallas