By Kate Green Tripp

Last week, Luma had the privilege of being featured at the annual Entrepreneur Forum hosted by the California State University, Monterey Bay Institute for Innovation and Economic Development (CSUMB IIED). The topics up for debate and storytelling: What is entrepreneurship? What are the great (and not so great) lessons learned in the process of creating a new business? What are the secrets to success and the pitfalls to beware of?

It was an honor to sit on a panel of seasoned local entrepreneurs and have the opportunity to talk with students eager to bring to life their own small business creation dreams. It was also a lovely trip down memory lane, as the concept that is now a living, breathing Luma made its very first public debut at the CSUMB Start-Up Challenge (previously known as the Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan competition) in May 2012.

That spring, Valerie presented the Luma business plan and was lucky enough to make it to the final round of the ‘Main Street’ category along with Dan Satterthwaite of New Bohemia Brewing Company, another fantastic example of small local business here in Santa Cruz. It is quite remarkable to see both Luma and New Bohemain – at that time both just great concepts on paper – now open and each attracting their own loyal and fervent customer communities. We live in a truly amazing town, brimming with talent, commitment, and creativity, and it is pure pleasure to watch, support, and be a part of the giant multi-faceted waves of innovation currently breaking over Santa Cruz.

But I digress. Back to the forum…

The CSU-MB IIED event offered me a welcome opportunity to reflect upon the infamous twisty and pothole-ridden path that leads small business owners from concept to design to launch and ultimately – if the force is with you – to sustainability and growth. It was poignant to listen to other business owners discuss their greatest fears and challenges and to recall our own. It was humbling to remember the looks on peoples’ faces, before Luma launched, in response to our excited pronouncements that yes, we were opening another yoga studio in Santa Cruz and no, we weren’t crazy and yes, this one would indeed be different.

Just as readily as I shared Luma’s challenges with the audience, so too did I share our excitements, opportunities, and new frontiers – many of them as of yet unrevealed at the time we opened the studio. For example, we love seeing our classes make their way into local schools (our teachers are bringing yoga and movement to kids at Santa Cruz Montessori and Santa Cruz Gardens School just this month). We love getting to work in collaborative partnership around health and wellness with Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the Women’s Health Center of Santa Cruz. And we love that next month, Luma will launch weekly Spanish language yoga classes on Saturday afternoons…we can hardly wait!

As carefully and precisely as we crafted our business model, and as crucial as it is to stay true to one’s vision (something we spoke a lot about last week), there is also a graceful art in navigating the unforeseen forks in the road and growing and changing in response to the environment around you. Our studio began as the family-friendly yoga center in Santa Cruz and as we hone just what that means and all that we can do and become to realize that mission, we are also growing in new ways and braving uncharted waters. And therein lies the fun, the intrigue, and the constant sense of entrepreneurship.