Ground Floor: Marion yoga entrepreneurs offer head, heart in their business

Vella Yoga started on a rooftop

Stephanie Neighbor-Kubik, co-owner, leads a beginning yoga class at Vella Yoga in Marion on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. The beginning yoga class, which is a multi-week class, brings new and experienced students to the yoga mat to learn about alignment and movement before moving on to full classes. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Stephanie Neighbor-Kubik, co-owner, leads a beginning yoga class at Vella Yoga in Marion on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. The beginning yoga class, which is a multi-week class, brings new and experienced students to the yoga mat to learn about alignment and movement before moving on to full classes. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

MARION — A yoga business that got its start on a rooftop is now under the roof of an historic Marion home.

Stephanie Neighbor-Kubik and Cassie Hammarmeister, co-owners of Vella Yoga, met at yoga teacher training in 2016.

Neighbor-Kubik had worked in her family’s Marion-based banking business for 20 years. Hammarmeister has a massage therapy practice in the same city.

“We complement each other,” Neighbor-Kubik said. “My background is business, hers is the body. Head and heart.”

Each woman has one daughter, so they combined their daughters’ names, Veda and Ellie, to come up with the name for their business. Next, they needed a location to hold yoga classes.

“We just started doing rooftop classes at Philip’s Center once a week,” Neighbor-Kubik said, referring to the Marion building that is home to Philip’s Diamond Shop.

That was in August 2016, shortly after the new business partners had graduated from yoga teacher training. But by October, outdoor classes no longer were feasible.

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“We needed to find something for winter, but we couldn’t afford a lease,” Neighbor-Kubik said.

However, Phil High, whom they knew through the Marion Chamber of Commerce, agreed to rent to them a small studio space in Philip’s Center for a moderate price.

They opened the studio on Jan. 26 this past year, offering free yoga for the day along with a grand opening special for 30 days of unlimited yoga for $30.

“We got a great response,” Neighbor-Kubik said.

A few months later, with the studio’s clientele growing, Neighbor-Kubik saw a for sale sign in front of the 1870s-era house in which her hair salon was located.

“My mind started going,” she said. “I had a vision.”

She and her husband purchased the house in June and began renovations to turn what had been a residence in the back of the house into a yoga studio. (The front of the house remains a hair salon, and there is a rental apartment upstairs.)

They exposed the brick walls, refinished the original hardwood floors and added new flooring to complement the existing hardwood.

Because of the popularity of the original rooftop yoga classes, they also built a 500-square-foot deck off the back of the house for outdoor summer classes.

Vella Yoga moved into the newly renovated space on Dec. 1.

“We couldn’t be more pleased,” Neighbor-Kubik said. “It feels like home.”

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Vella Yoga offers regular classes four days a week and a variety of special events throughout the month, including a free community yoga class each month. It will celebrate the new space with a housewarming party on Jan. 26.

AT A GLANCE

Owners: Stephanie Neighbor-Kubik and Cassie Hammarmeister

Business: Vella Yoga

Address: 871 10th St., Marion

Phone: (319) 551-9862

Email: vellayoga.ia@gmail.com

Website: www.vellayogamarion.com

Know a business in operation for less than a year that would make an interesting “Ground Floor”? Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com

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