Over the past few years, I’ve interviewed more than two dozen people who grew up along the Mendocino Coast and couldn’t wait to move away, believing they’d never return. But return they did, to establish businesses or professional careers. Some also chose this place to raise children, to nurture them in the small town values that shaped their own childhoods.
These are a new wave of pioneers who, like their forebearers, use intelligence and imagination to forge a vibrant path. In exchange for the privilege of being able to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, they work long, hard hours.
The shelter in place orders due to Covid-19 have knocked many down, but they are devising ways to get back up and resume their vision of what it means to live here.
They have open minds and are digging deep to find solutions.
They have entrepreneurial spirits that will spawn innovations to move them forward. They are truly the new pioneers of the Mendocino Coast.
We are so fortunate to have them here—especially during this trying time.
When I first spoke with Justine about her yoga studio and related businesses, I was impressed by her wealth of education and experience. Since leaving the Mendocino Coast several years ago, she’s lived in a number of places around the world, yet chose to return and settle here with her family. You can read her original interview here: https://ithappenedatpurity.com/2017/01/03/justine-lemos/
A few days before the March shelter in place orders went into effect, Justine closed her yoga studio. Overnight, she went from offering 25 classes a week to online live streaming nearly every day. She was concerned with how SIP would impact her clients and the staff at the studio. “Before owning the yoga studio I taught college classes online. I have also taught many online courses as an Ayurvedic practitioner. So I was already set up with much of the technology for live streaming yoga,” she said. “I reached out to my yoga students to offer them an alternative way to continue taking yoga. Unfortunately, some of my clients don’t have access to devices or the internet. For those who aren’t technically savvy, I offered support to get them set up.”
Justine converted her yoga space into a film studio with professional cameras, lighting and microphones. She concurrently livestreams and films each class. The videos are placed on her website where they can be accessed on demand for studio members. “The post-class editing can take three to four hours. “As a result, I now spend more time on technology than teaching. The technology aspect is sometimes frustrating.
“Some people get upset if they can’t take their favorite class at their former time slot. I explain that I have to work around the time constraints of editing and having an 11-year old child who now needs to be homeschooled.”
In late June, Governor Newsom announced the reopening of certain places, including gyms. “I could have opened the yoga studio with social distancing and masks or begun teaching classes outside. I polled my students to ask if they’d be willing to return to the studio and wear masks. The vast majority said no. I felt it best to take an abundance of caution and stay closed. There’s a reason for an ordinance against gatherings. A few weeks later, we would have been forced to close when new orders were issued.”
Justine is grateful to be able to move her business online. “This shift actually gives me growth opportunities. It allows me to expand my reach beyond a limited local population to clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Arizona, Florida and the United Kingdom.” Justine feels incredibly grateful that the Community Foundation and West Company gave at One Yoga a business resiliency grant to help with the transition to online streaming.
She hopes this current crisis will result in our area becoming less dependent upon tourism. “I’m certain we’ll survive as a species, but it will be very hard for small businesses to survive. When this passes, I think the world will look radically different.”
Justine puts her circumstances into perspective by comparing them to the times she spent living in rural India. She and her husband lived in small villages off and on for a few years. “Even with shelter in place, our current existence is way easier. In India, whenever we needed to buy something that had to be refrigerated, we traveled an hour each way in a very crowded bus.”
Justine encourages support for local businesses. “If you can’t give money, reach out and ask, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ Maybe you could run an errand or simply let them know you’re thinking about them. There’s an incredible amount of pressure on working parents with children at home. As a business owner, whenever someone expresses gratitude, it means a great deal.”
Visit Justine’s website for detailed information about her classes: https://www.at1yoga.com/
It’s wonderful that Justine was able to adjust her business – I think many businesses will have to do that to survive.