Bari Koral of Yogapalooza on pioneering kids yoga with Yogapalooza!
Describe your business in a few words?
Bari Koral is a Kids Yoga Pioneer and recording artist. Bari inspires thousands of parents, teachers and young children every day with her kids yoga, music and mindfulness activities and popular YouTube channel.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
After burning out on the road playing “adult” music my little niece was born and I started writing songs for her! Also as a professional musician I started having anxiety. I learned yoga originally for myself – to help recover from anxiety. The more I learned the more I realized that other people needed tools as well.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was an “adult” singer songwriter trying to narrow the gap between me and artists like Carole King and Sheryl Crow!
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No. I had no idea. I wanted to be a musician! But I started to notice that the whole business was touring and album sales. That was it. And I knew I couldn’t stay out on the road forever. The very first step was WANTING to make money while I was home (or sleeping!). I had NO idea how to do that, but I wanted that. That was the first step.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I’ve had so many ups and downs. I had a TV show (that no one watched) but I did get a big deal at a network so it was a major eye opener about how to do some bigger things. It showed me that I still knew what was best for my brand and my music and my ideas. It is so easy to think other people who are more “successful” know better than you. I wasn’t happy with what the network wound up doing so I launched my YouTube channel. And then apps like spotify happened- so parents stopped buying CDs. That was such major revenue for artists like me. I had to pivot from playing only to parents (doing family concerts and selling cds) to trying to break into the education market. I loved teachers, I could see they needed support and they still bought records for their classrooms!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
The first few education conferences I attended I paid a ton of money to be at these big trade shows and it was like crickets in my booth. No one knew who I was! I learned to make sure they knew more about me first. Also my YouTube channel started slow. But for all of it – I just was in it for the long term. I was not concerned with short term success. I knew it would take time to build- and it did. I didn’t make “mistakes” per say but it did just take a long time to build organically. I never had any funding, never did any advertising. It’s so easy to compare yourself to others when you are growing (or at any time really) but we are all on our own path. There is no competition for YOUR path. That was what I really adopted.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Hmm. Many really. Moving to Woodstock, NY. Getting married to my person. Making money while I sleep. Writing a whole kids yoga, music and mindfulness curriculum that was pretty ahead of i’s time before “kids yoga” was mainstream. That is up there. Growing YouTube organically from 10 subscribers to close to half a million. That is up there too!
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I have learned your team can really hold you back or propel you forward. I have learned to really grill my team! They have to show up – they have to complete projects, they have to deliver on what they say they will do. People don’t really surprise you. I think you really kind of know how it’s going to go. If they don’t show up for you, you can’t pretend not to notice. I have tough conversations and deal with things pretty right away. You have to. Otherwise your whole business suffers while you just are “nice.” That never works.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Covid was what really helped grow Yogapalooza / Bari Koral. For years I have been doing yoga and music and mindfulness for young children. I would appear, sometimes in front of hundreds if not thousands of teachers at a time telling them how important this was for our healthy minds and bodies. Like learning ABCS- we need to learn how to think and how to breathe and calm ourselves down. And enjoy and buy into yoga with super fun music. And then the whole world had a collective nervous breakdown and many started to come to me. I was so busy during Covid. Also the videos- so many people discovered the videos for their kids and for their classes.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I have a popular online course that can train anyone to teach yoga and mindfulness to young children. I love that. I think I’m also going to start a subscription service to share lots of goodies to parents and teachers every month for themselves, and their children. I also love doing my live Yogapalooza shows and want to do more of those- just stepping away from the marketing zone and into the music zone.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Your feelings are valid. Accept them. Be kind to them! Thank them for protecting you. And then slowly guide them to better places.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
The law of attraction: what you focus on grows. When I started my music career as a pretty clueless singer-songwriter I was so focused on other people’s success- like Norah Jones who my boyfriend discovered and brought back to New York. If I had put more of that focus on myself and my message and mission I would have enjoyed that part of my journey so much more.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Helping others! The key to happiness is serving others that is FOR SURE. I did SO many events during covid- I was constantly writing and researching and serving parents, teachers and young children.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I don’t even see it as a balance- I see it as a life. What do you want to be doing with this life? We only get so many trips around the sun! What do you want to be doing today? Doing tomorrow? Doing this summer? If you want to know your future, look at your present. What you say YES to today is what you will be doing tomorrow. I’m very clear on that. I need space in my schedule. I need days off. Time to dream, to read, to rest. To be with my kids. I hate working around the clock. I get so grouchy. Sometimes it can’t be avoided but I try to avoid it as much as I can. It’s not good for my mental health. I need space in my calendar and space in my life. I also work much more effectively that way. Can access more creative solutions.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I just adopted two 12 year old girls who lost their parents.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
I need a long morning of me time! Tea. Books. Inspiration. Just looking out at my pond. I know that might sound like a fantasy to some, but I created this. I worked really hard to create that space because I need it. Also if it’s not scheduled it’s not real. So you need to schedule it- put it in your calendar. And here are my 3 rules for success: 1. Is it fun? 2. Is it easy? 3. Is it going somewhere?
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
I’m proud of myself that I grew from an in debt musician to a owner of a whole business for yoga and mindfulness and music. In the beginning it was just: write/record/tour. Write/record/tour. Hit repeat over and over. I knew I didn’t want to tour forever. I knew I wanted to be home- to raise kids. But have a presence. I had no idea how to do it. I just knew I wanted it. Being an Entreprenista means that to me. To create a world where that all comes together.