Like so many women in Los Angeles, Melissa Schulman needed a break from her hectic, successful career and, due to chronic pain from which she found great relief in yoga, decided to deepen her practice, spending a year becoming a yoga instructor, going on retreats, and more. While on what she now refers to as her “Yoga Bubble Year,” Melissa conceptualized Yoga-urt.
Opening on July 25, Yoga-urt’s delicious handcrafted, fresh from scratch fare is made with organic, natural, non-dairy ingredients, and contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. All of the Yoga-urt soft serve is unbelievably rich and creamy and contains four strains of live probiotics added for digestive and immune health. And for those who like their Yoga-urt in a cone – they are handcrafted from scratch, with vegan and gluten-free options.
Many people have heard or made the yoga/yogurt connection jokingly, but Melissa couldn’t let it go. She began to develop the concept of an upscale yogurt bar serving tasty organic soft serve, smoothies, coffee, and tea with a yoga studio ambiance. Yoga-urt will bring the Namaste into people’s lives by providing nourishment for those looking to live healthier by enjoying an organic, dairy-free treat in a peaceful setting.
Yoga-urt offers nine nut-based handcrafted rotating flavors of organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, non-soy soft serve, including Chocolate Bliss, Salted Caramel Zen and Peanut Butter Prana, a toppings bar with mostly organic and non-dairy options, plus six handcrafted smoothies including healthy green and paleo options, coffee from LA’s popular sustainable purveyor Groundwork, and tea from The Art of Tea. In keeping with Yoga-urt’s higher consciousness vibe, all of Yoga-urt’s serving wear is biodegradable.
Melissa notes, “In 2011, I was able to take a year off from the corporate world to slow down my pace and accommodate healthier pursuits. I call this my ‘yoga bubble year’. I did a yoga teacher training at a lovely local studio, Yoga Blend, worked at the studio’s front desk, took workshops and loads of classes, taught yoga, went on retreats, and immersed myself in everything yoga. It was the best year of my life and the year that the idea of Yoga-urt was born.”
What became a huge challenge was getting the financing needed to start her dream business. Melissa spent four years doing research and building her business plan to find funding, although she was turned down many times, including by her family. During this time, Melissa developed her skills in business planning, budgeting, marketing, everything related to opening up a restaurant, and never gave up on her dream. She worked closely with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and SCORE, the volunteer network dedicated to helping launch small businesses, which nurtured her entrepreneurial skills, and it was ultimately the SBA who helped finance her business. Melissa blogs her entrepreneurial path at journeytoyoga-urt.com.
Melissa knew from the beginning that she wanted to have dairy-free options that weren’t sorbets, and weren’t made with soy, but were organic, healthy, and yummy. So in 2014, she put a team together to begin the soft serve R&D. This team included Meredith Sarah Klein, a Los Angeles private chef, and yoga and mindfulness teacher, who creates internationally-inspired, Ayurvedically-influenced, holistic, organic cuisine and Jim Broussalian, an accomplished expert in menu/product innovation and R&D processes in the retail food service industry. The Yoga-urt team very carefully selected all of the ingredients used in their dairy-free organic product.
Meredith notes, “I’m so thrilled to partner with Melissa and Yoga-urt in creating a nut-based soft serve that features a clean ingredient list. It’s been great to watch people’s reactions to it – it’s so creamy and delicious, they can’t believe that its non-dairy!”
Yoga-urt will open in Glendale’s walkable and healthy neighborhood Kenneth Village at 1407 ½ W. Kenneth Road. Featuring yoga, dance, Pilates and cross fit studios, a Curves location, an organic Mexican restaurant, a deli, healthy Italian and more, Yoga-urt’s yoga studio ambience and wholesome offerings will fit right in with Kenneth Village’s health conscious neighbors and customers.
Melissa concludes, “For me, Yoga-urt is about community, love, and providing nourishment for people coming together to live healthier lives. I hope that the local community as well as LA’s foodies and yogis come to this beautiful neighborhood to check us out.”