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Meet Lauren Duke of Be + Well Women’s Co Work and Gather + Encinitas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Duke.

Lauren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Gather is my fifth yoga studio. The more you fail, the more you get clear on what works and what doesn’t. Failure is a strength. Failure makes you brave and well adjusted. Helps you grow your ability to handle the hurdles. Without it, we don’t know how to get through a real life. Real life is hard.

Gather was born out of a need to open up the box of yoga to more of an education and art platform where people could be well resourced to take care of their mental and physical wellbeing. Yoga is more than a hot sweaty class and warrior. That’s part of it but its the tip of the iceberg and in some cases not even necessary. Its very community oriented and people need to feel like they are not alone. We have become so technological which is also part of our suffering. Technology, even with social media, can be so isolating and keep you in your house rather than sharing information and hugs. We need real physical connection. We need love. We need to feel wanted. We are tribal.

I also saw a big need for educators of this work to get paid what they deserved for their skill which isn’t happening in corporate environments. Corporate yoga studios pay their teachers the minimum which requires the teacher to teach so many classes to be able to make a living. Its exhausting and keeps the hamster on the wheel. Fuck the wheel.

I created Gather as a Co-op. Teachers come together to pay the rent collectively, which is less pressure for me as the creator and operator and the teacher takes home everything they make. This also incentivizes the teacher to take ownership of their brand and become their own ambassador and grow their own community which is an extension of Gather. In a way, it teaches them skills to be an entrepreneur and to learn how to not always depend on others. Its tough work but its super synergistic and arms teachers with the skill set it takes to make it in the business world.

I opened Be + Well Womens Co-Working space out of a need to find a writing space. I couldn’t find anything in north county to fit my needs. I like style and design, I like connection and I need a beautiful space to feel inspired. I couldn’t find anything that checked the boxes to work from, so I just decided to build it.

My projects are successful because I have a lot of people around me who believe in what I’m doing and want me to succeed. My husband is my number one fan (and I’m his) and every project I get into, he is my partner from concept to vision to execution. We make a good team. He’s my secret weapon, my back-end strength. I also have an amazing manager of all the things (Danielle), community and friends who are like-minded and are into what I do.

I am fully supported to make my dreams come true and that really is the key ingredient– we need help. I can only do this work because I am surrounded by people willing to help. I’m super grateful because this is a group effort to do something outside the box and essentially recreate and rebuild the box. Actually, the box doesn’t work. Fuck the box. I’m committed to exploding the box. We don’t need walls like that anymore.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t know any road that is always smooth. That’s a silly rhetorical question actually and perhaps why so many people suffer in the business world. We should not expect things to be so simple. They are not. Our lives are a riddle- a puzzle and it hurts sometimes to put the pieces together.

I have had many businesses that didn’t work. I wanted to do things on my own. That was always my biggest hindrance. You cannot do things alone. We are not so independent. We are actually more interdependent than anything and we should really capitalize on that and use all our resources. It helps to have a strong dynamic community of people to work with.

Success means being resourceful AF and using everything you have to make it so. Also, I didn’t have an easy life. Single mother. Poor. But that’s actually what has made me the most brave, My mother is a scary courageous hero. I’m not afraid to fail or to hurt or to feel like shit. That’s part of the course. It doesn’t last anyhow. Everything ends at some point. This was always my message growing up. I think its set me up for the real world- for success in some cases. I can handle a lot.

I believe in working hard and also learning how to look outside the box at things and broaden my perspective of whats true. It’s not just me invested in this. There are thousands of people benefitting from Gather and now the new space Be Well Women’s Co-Work as well.

It’s not all about me anymore. Building a successful business also means adulting because there are a lot of people involved and I need to think about them too. I can’t be selfish if I want this to work. I need to have integrity and be cooperative and sometimes that hard for humans and hard for me. I’m pretty strong headed and sometimes I have to step off my soapbox and remember that it’s not just me anymore and I need to hear other peoples perspective and be willing to do things differently than I thought.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Be + Well Women’s Co-Work and Gather + Encinitas – what should we know?
Gather Encinitas is a yoga studio, community hub, education, workshop and resource platform for wellbeing and mental health. We are known for having epic, well-educated teachers and rad relevant events. We host talks on sex, breathing, trauma, psychology, meditation, art, fitness, culture, nutrition etc. We have great style and believe aesthetic matters in the environment and contributes to the feeling tone in our minds and bodies.

Gather is known for looking at yoga as a massive spectrum and not just investing people in the physical practice but rather trying to open peoples mind to the deeper science of it. We want people to intimately live a thoughtful, skillful, sweet life. My main motivation is not to make money- but rather to make something work but doing it collectively and cooperatively.

Be Well Women’s Co-Work is a hub for women to work, be, create, socialize, network and have a glass of tea, wine, coffee. We support local artists and buy all local crafts and goods for the space like our Bedfellows Coffee, Daniella Manini Art, Barrels and Branches Greenery and succulents and Evoke Goods ceramics. We host women events on relevant topics including sex and the future of women health. Its really just a platform for women to come together and feel safe enough to just Be.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Cooperation.

It’s easy to get lost in the personalization of everything. To make everything about me. To think that what I am doing is the only way or the right way. To make my financial success number one. It’s not. Its a cool byproduct but it wouldn’t happen if people weren’t responding to what I’m creating. And I’m not creating this alone- I’m creating this with a community of epic people who care about making physical and mental wellness peoples priority. It should be – we only get one body (maybe- who knows what happens after this life) but regardless we have been conditioned to believe that money is more important that our health and that’s actually perpetuating peoples lack of wellbeing and illness.

Why have the money if we are to sick to spend it? To enjoy it? To go on fun vacations with the people we love? To eat good food? We need to work together to make wellness way more mainstream and to make the education of it stand at the forefront of every wellness product and service. People need to learn to take care of themselves and we need to work cooperatively rather than competitively to spread that message.

Pricing:

  • Gather Yoga 10-20$ sliding scale per class
  • Be Well Womens Co-Work full-time membership 350$ per month, 199$ part-time membership, 30$ drop in rate.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 412/414 N coast HWY 101 Encinitas CA 92024
  • Website: www.gatherencinitas.com www.bewellencinitas.com
  • Phone: 6508925488
  • Email: lauren@gatherencinitas.com
  • Instagram: @gatherencinitas.com @bewellencinitas.com
  • Facebook: gatherencinitas bewellencinitas

Image Credit:
Chris Miller and Nicholas Borrelli

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