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Business Spotlight: Follow the Goats

In the first year, Goats and Yoga owners find Zen on the farm

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When Stephanie Wubbena has a good idea, she goes all in.

“I have a lot of passions and things I would like to explore and complete,” she says. “I go with my gut, if I know it’s a good idea.”

Stephanie went with her gut on July 7, 2017 – she and her husband Eric opened Goats and Yoga.

And it’s exactly as it sounds – doing yoga while goats roam and maybe even climb aboard.

Prior to launching Goats and Yoga and purchasing the farm where they now live, the Wubbenas opened Live Pure Yoga, 2208 W. Chesterfield Blvd., Ste. 105, in July 2015.

Going all in on their new business, which focuses primarily on the Ashtanga, Buti and Tabata yoga methods, the couple moved to a three-bedroom loft above the studio.

With Live Pure, Stephanie says she was striving to be unique rather than teach classes found at other studios.

“I was looking to provide a service of who I am,” she says. “You’ll never be successful copying someone else.”

Next thing she knows, goat yoga became an instant success. It started in 2016 by Lainey Morse in Oregon. According to an interview with Morse at WhatsUpNW.com, she was hosting a kids’ birthday party on her farm, where she had a couple of goats, and one of the mothers, a yoga instructor, asked if they could do a class in the field. Morse took pictures, sent them to media and the trend went viral.

Stephanie predicted the concept would do well in the Springfield area.

The Wubbenas moved out of their loft and bought a farm in Rogersville. It’s organized as Herding Dogs Farm LLC, and Stephanie teaches the yoga classes, runs the social media and does the farm chores. Eric does the budgeting, built the fences where the goats are kept and lures the goats into yoga participation by strategically placing feed and hay around participants. Eric also teaches a cardio class at Live Pure and works full time as vice president of sales at Paperwise Inc. in Springfield.

Life with goats
The Wubbenas have about a dozen Nigerian goats on the farm – most about 18 months old, except for a few 3-4 months of age. Eric says they only weigh 28-32 pounds when full grown.

Stephanie says although a lot of online pictures of goat yoga show cute babies, it’s really easier to do yoga with goats that have had time to be trained. But part of it is ingrained in them already.

“It is their natural instincts and inclination to jump up on higher surfaces,” Stephanie says. “If you provide them a stable surface, like when you are on your hands and knees and your back is nice and flat, they will be more inclined to jump on that.”

She says classes, typically capped at 30 participants, are often more appealing to people who have never done yoga because it seems fun and there are less expectations.

Leslie Yearta-Brown, a client of Live Pure and Goats and Yoga, has practiced yoga in the Springfield community for 22 years.

While her favorite is a slower, Vinyasa-style yoga, she says Goats and Yoga mixes up her routine.

“When you practice something for a long time, there can be a boredom that occurs,” she says. “What’s nice about Goats and Yoga is that it’s completely different than what I’ve been doing.”

Yearta-Brown, a full-time nurse practitioner, says in addition to the animal therapy vibe, the outdoor setting in Rogersville is another unique perk.

Moving forward
The Wubbenas run their yoga businesses separately. They declined to disclose annual revenue, but Eric says Goats and Yoga brings in $2,000-$2,500 each month they hold classes.

Goats and Yoga didn’t hold classes during December 2017 through February 2018, due to cold weather. But in March, a 1,200-square-foot pole barn was completed, allowing for heated classes in the winter. Classes cost $20 apiece.

Stephanie says it’s only $100 a month to take care of the goats.

“I can have animals without my husband complaining all the time, because they pay for themselves,” she jokes.

Eric says he believes they would’ve had animals on the farm at some point, yoga or not, as his wife loves animals.

“It brings her a lot of joy, but to me it’s work,” he adds. “So, it’s a good balance for us.”

Through Goats and Yoga, the Wubbenas also have hosted events giving back to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Harmony House and The Victim Center, raising $2,000 for those charities.

“We look at it as a supplement to our Live Pure Yoga,” he says. “It’s more about giving back to the community than us building up a 401(k). That’s the way we look at Goats and Yoga.”

In the near future, Stephanie plans to launch a video blog for the website and also a YouTube channel, chronicling their daily life on the farm.

Goats and Yoga is also branching out to add revenue streams by hosting corporate retreats and private events. Private events cost a flat rate of $600, for up to 30 people. Eric says they’ve held events for CoxHealth, bachelorette parties and birthday parties, as well as hosting off-the-farm events at Zenith Climbing Center and Farmers Park.

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