lil omm Embarking on New Partnerships as Studio Closes
As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. Although lil omm yoga will close its studio at the end of the year, the community owner Pleasance Silicki cultivated and tended since she first began her business in 2008 will live on.
Silicki, since moving into the Tenleytown studio in 2011, had built a robust clientele, a team of talented instructors, and a schedule of classes that provided yoga to women (predominantly) and families at all stages of life. Students and teachers were attracted to her inclusive, community-centered approach to yoga. That the business had become so successful made the decision to close all the more difficult.
When new owners purchased the building in January 2015, Silicki anticipated that the studio’s rent would increase. The previous owners had given her generous terms in her prior lease, setting rates well under market value, and she had budgeted for her monthly costs to go up significantly when her current lease expired in January 2016. However, what she didn’t anticipate is that the new landlords would expect her to be responsible for additional maintenance costs in a building that had not been updated in years. That potential financial liability, which she estimated to be tens of thousands of dollars, coupled with a doubling of the rent just didn’t make business sense.
Silicki has approached the closure of her studio in much the same way she approached running it, with care and love for her students and teachers, gratitude, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Instead of just shutting her doors, she found a third way, pursuing a partnership with two other Tenleytown-based businesses to ensure the lil omm community continued to have a place to call its own.
Starting in January lil omm’s adult yoga programs will merge with the Washington Yoga Center, 4000 Albemarle Street, which recently came under new management. Adult students are likely to find the transition to WYC to be a smooth one as many of lil omm’s teachers and classes have found a new home in the light-filled space across from the Tenley Metro station. In addition, they will be able to use their current class passes at the new studio. In describing the transition, Silicki says it “couldn’t be more win-win.”
The studio’s prenatal, children, and family programs will live on as a partnership with CityDance POP!, a dance studio that opened in September 2015 around the corner from the Metro station on Wisconsin Avenue. As Silicki began her business with a focus on classes for kids and families, the new partnership is in essence bringing lil omm back to its roots. “We’re taking all the good energy in this space [lil omm], to the new space,” said Silicki with enthusiasm. Families can expect the same kinds of offerings they have grown to love, given by the same teachers. The only change is that drop-in classes will no longer be offered; instead families will register for a six- to eight-week session. Registration and class information will continue to be found on the lil omm website.
The model of consolidation that Silicki has pursued is at the cutting edge of a new trend among small yoga studios, which are increasingly competing with corporate yoga chains, a category once thought to be an oxymoron among practitioners. It’s not surprising, then, that Silicki is already being asked to share her experience with other business owners in the yoga community – when we met with her, she was preparing for a radio interview later that day.
In addition to sharing her wisdom and embarking on the partnership with CityDance POP!, Silicki is looking forward to exploring her passion for empowering women. She will continue to offer workshops and retreats, as well as life coaching, that integrate the teachings and practice of yoga; registration will be available through the lil omm website. She is also embarking on a new women’s leadership initiative with professor Iris Krasnow as part of the Lifelong Empowerment And Professional Development program at American University. To say that the closure of her studio has not been without heartache would be an understatement, but as she looks forward to a new chapter and these new opportunities, Silicki says in the end it “really couldn’t be a better situation.”
lil omm will remain in its current studio through the end of the year, as will all the current teachers. At another business teachers might have begun leaving as soon as they heard word of the impending closure. That they are staying the course is a testament to Silicki and indicative of the fierce loyalty she engenders – a devotion she returns in spades as demonstrated by her tireless efforts to make sure the Washington Yoga Center and CityDance POP! welcomed her colleagues.
The studio will host a farewell party on Sunday, January 24. With a theme unsurprisingly dedicated to love, the event is expected to be a celebration of what lil omm has been and what it will become. “Simply put, lil omm will not end as we leave our physical studio space,” wrote Silicki in an email announcing the studio closure. “Our lil omm community will continue to grow and thrive as we find new opportunities. lil omm will continue to engage, inspire and connect students who value health, wellness & community.”