Introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about what’s been going on for you lately?
My name is Angela Cronk. I own Hagoyah Hair Studio and Yoga Den in the heart of Waldo, at 515 W 75th St. I’ve been in the community for five years. We actually had our fifth anniversary in January. We’ve got about twenty employees and we serve about 3000-3500 guests in the community through yoga, hair services, massages, facials, and just overall better self-care.
Did you grow up in Kansas City?
Yeah, I actually grew up north of the river. As soon as I graduated high school, and about one year into community college, I moved to Arizona. And then after that I moved to California, and then Philadelphia. So I was away for about ten years, and then I came back and moved to this part of town.
What brings you back? What’s attractive to you about Kansas City?
Kansas City, it’s home, so that’s attractive, and I was just ready to come home. I was away for ten years, and I felt that I wanted to settle and do something. And I felt like this is a good place to do that. I felt like there was more opportunity to grow here.
Can you speak a bit about your journey as a stylist and yoga instructor as well as some of the broad steps you've taken along the way to starting your own business?
I started practicing yoga when I first moved to Arizona, and loved it. The challenge that I found was that it was very exclusive because of the cost or the investment to attend yoga classes or to have a membership, in addition to having a gym membership somewhere else. Eating fresh, healthy food, that can be pricey too. So after practicing yoga for about ten years, and visiting various yoga studios, and getting to know different styles and types of yoga, really ultimately trying to find the best bargain, and finding a good fit for me overall brought me to this space of Hagoyah. I’ve been a stylist for over fifteen years, and I love the industry, and I love the idea of making people feel good. And what I wanted to do was to combine those two passions of making people feel good and providing yoga classes under one roof, and ultimately bring back that once a week experience of self-care that our grandmothers had back in the day when they would get their hair done once a week. And now nobody wears their hair like that, so there’s no need for that, so women more or less lost that hour once a week of self-care. I’m hoping to bring that back through yoga as well as other services at Hagoyah.
What went on when you first started your business?
At first it was an idea. And then it was just talking to people, saying that I had an idea to do this. It’s kind of like, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” It was this domino effect of meeting all the right people at all the right times. Getting connected with various organizations that are available for entrepreneurs, like Score. So first up, learning how to write a business plan. And then getting connected with an attorney to create an operating agreement. Everything lined up on the path, really.
Was it what you expected when you first started?
No. I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you for opening a business, and I don’t think that there’s anything you could do differently. I think you really have to live it to get that experience and to get that knowledge and that foundation to be successful, because you do try a lot of things. I feel like I did everything I could as far as attending seminars, and webinars, and reading books, and books on tape, and just utilizing as many resources as I could, but experience really says it all. I think the one thing that stands out the most was that I called over thirty banks, on the phone or in some banks you could walk in. One thing that really stood out was…Well, I recently got married…
Thanks! My husband had shared, “If it was me walking in to those banks five years ago, they would’ve said yes. But you’re a girl. You have great credit, you have a great business model, but you’re a woman, and that’s why nobody took you seriously.” And I was like, “Shit, that’s true.” That’s why I have to struggle so hard, but it was worth it to be strong and tenacious.
How does your experience as a woman flavor the way that you run your business?
It definitely has changed the way I’ve flavored it. And I think having that insight that I just shared from my husband, I realize that I was so naïve back then. I just thought I was getting rejected, thinking, “Well, maybe I don’t have enough money saved up, or maybe this business model is dumb.” But no, we made a profit the first year, it’s a great business model, it works. I do feel that the reason that people maybe didn’t take me seriously was that I was a woman. The way that that’s changed the way that I do business is I’ve always had the mindset that people have good intentions, and humans are genuinely good people, and everybody is looking out for everyone’s best interest. I’ve created stronger boundaries. Not that you don’t genuinely care about me, but I need to protect my business. I guess I’ve gotten kind of a momma bear mindset. I will protect myself, and I will protect my business first, and I definitely need to be more assertive, and not so much super happy yoga teacher all the time. I’m a business owner first, but I’m also a yoga teacher and a hairdresser.
What are some proud moments you can recall from your history as a business owner?
We’ve been featured in various yoga publications online, like on Yoga Anonymous we were one of the top ten yoga studios in the country that you’ve got to go check out. In Pitch best of in 2016, we were voted one of the top three yoga studios. It’s almost like every day is a proud moment. I think as of late, I’ve learned to delegate and let things go. I think part of running a business is you learn how to do everything and then you can kind of let it go and give direction. The people that have taken on certain tasks that I used to do have just run with it and made it so much better. Everything’s been, I don’t know, mind blowing. I’m really, really proud of my team, and really proud of the Hagoyah tribe that I’ve been able to attract and train. They’re just brilliant.
I think it’s cool to do this interview five years on, just to see the ways that you’ve grown and evolved in that time. Talking of self-care, do you as a business owner feel like you can provide yourself with the same self-care that you try to provide for others?
You mean, am I a hypocrite? [laughter]
[laughter] I just mean is your day so chock full that you can’t take advantage of the services you offer?
I made a commitment starting at the end of last year to practice better self-care. Sundays are my Sabbath. I can’t do it on a Saturday since we’re open on Saturday, but Sundays are a day for making zero commitments and just letting that be a chill day. And then on Mondays trying to find just an hour to maybe go practice yoga. I have a friend that’s treating me to IV nutrition this afternoon. I’ve never done that. They’re going to sponsor a yoga festival, so I thought I should check them out. And it was a gift. As far as utilizing the services in the building, it’s hard for me to do that because I’m always working. So if I’m taking a yoga class there, I’m inspecting and thinking about, you know, is that person safe, or what’s that smell. If I’m getting a massage and there’s some noise going on. I will squeeze in my haircut there though.
What do you think attracted you to the Waldo area specifically?
What brought me back to Kansas City initially was living on either coast, I feel like there’s a heartbeat here. I especially feel that in the Waldo/Brookside area that people genuinely love being from here, and that there’s a community. I mean, there is a legit community. People that live here really love living here, and they’re proud of their space, and they want to take care of it, and they want to improve it. And I don’t know if there’s anywhere else like the Waldo area that’s in Kansas City.
I wanted to make sure I asked about your dogs.
The two Chihuahuas, Roxy and Lobo. Their full names, just for the record, it’s a mommy and one of her pups, Sugar Roxanne Velveeta Conchita Consuela Cronk, but her friends call her Roxy. And then there’s Prince Lobo Spuntz Baguette Turd Ferguson Walter Cronk, but his friends call him Lobo. So Roxy and Lobo, they love going into the business. I live right down the street so I feel like when I’m going on a walk, and we walk into the business, they’re like, “Aw mom, you tricked us! We’re not going to the park!” But they like hanging out there, meeting all the guests. They understand that mommy works a lot, but it’s for Hagoyah.
I hope they get a bit of self-care too. Are there places in Waldo, or even Kansas City in general that you really like to frequent?
I really enjoy the new Ruby Jean’s Juicery. It’s fantastic, over there on Troost. It’s an up and coming area. I also like the Unbaked Juicery on 63rd St. I think they’re doing really great stuff inside there. Can I Have a Bite? is right by there too. I really like going there. I’ll make a shameless plug for Karma Tribe Yoga, a sister studio.
Where do you see your business in another two or three or five years?
I definitely see different locations, and I think the newer model would be just a little bit smaller. We’ve made the shift, we’re no longer carrying Paul Mitchell products. Our primary hair care line we’re switching to Euphora, which matches our values a little bit more. They’re more plant based. There’s no sulfates. I think making that shift will offer the opportunity for more retail items other than just hair care products. So we’re hoping to offer cool things like sage sticks, fun Hagoyah gear, stuff that people would want to invest in.
Was there anything else you had on your mind that you’d like to speak about?
I did want to share that we do a monthly giving. We’ve actually structured it, it’s one of the things I’ve delegated, to a bi-monthly giving. I think it’s an important business model, and also part of yoga philosophy of giving back. We’re finishing up with the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project. This week we’re actually doing an interim giving back of a bra drive, so ladies can drop off their gently used bras and it will go toward a sex trafficking response program. Giving back has always been part of our business model.
Have you guys had good participation?
Yeah, it’s actually been really good. We’ve had people that approach us all the time. I guess it’s another proud moment when you get the thank you card saying, “Thank you so much. Your donation has helped to do this and that.” At the end of the day, it’s not like I really miss that cash. It feels really good to give back to the community, and I think that’s just kind of how you’re supposed to do business.
What about your landlord-tenant relationship?
It’s the best!