Cyndi Weis is a classic multi-hyphenate with one driving characteristic at her core: vision.
The founder of Breathe Yoga and Juice Bar, she never started with a business mindset.
In fact, she laughs, “I have no business being in business.”
17 successful years after launching Breathe, the Downtown Annex (another Rochester location that offers yoga classes only), five spinoff franchise locations, being the winner of Rochester, NY’s 2016 Business Person of the Year, and the more recent launch of Breathe at Home (a curated collection of home goods evoking vibrancy, joy, peacefulness, and comfort) might suggest otherwise.
Business-minded or not, Cyndi was always prescient, especially when it came to wellness. She was a personal trainer in the late 80’s and early 90’s before that profession became popular, and started a corporate wellness program long before those were de rigueur in corporations. In 1990, she graduated with a nutrition degree.
Counseling, though, was her first professional impetus, and where her Breathe vision originates: most important to her is forging an authentic connection with her clients and community, with whom she relates on a deep level.
Cyndi grew up as an obese child, finding her own healthy balance through yoga at 12 years old.
“I’m a good listener, and very empathetic around wellness,” she explains.
Fast forward to the year 2000 when Cyndi attended a Baptiste yoga boot camp in Mexico and found her metaphysical happy place: for her, the retreat was spiritual psychology meets physicality meets meditation meets yoga.
From there, the doors literally kept opening.
In 2001, she went back to Mexico for Baptiste teacher training and upon her return home, happened upon a “for rent” sign on a building in Rochester.
Today, she owns the building, and the one next door to it.
The Breathe brand houses its original concept (yoga and a healthy juice bar) plus a commissary kitchen (where five chefs create local, organic meals, composed of whole real food), a cold press juice facility, a spa (offering massage and facials), and a bakery.
These added elements add even more value, as they service the five Breathe franchises (all located in Western New York State), which started opening in 2011, the owners of which Cyndi considers an extension of her family.
All of her business activity might overwhelm–or even exhaust–the average person. But Cyndi Weis is not the average person.
“I put all of the things I love under one roof,” she says, declaring, “It makes me feel like I’ve never worked a day in my life.”
And that’s all the more impressive considering she has no formal training in business to speak of, her vision fueled almost exclusively by passion and a series of small steps, one after the next.
“Looking back now at the size of the current business, I would be intimidated. But since I started from nothing and learned by doing, the details came organically. I have always had a great inner circle to brainstorm with – my husband and two daughters. I simply took it one step at a time and figured it out.”
Cyndi Weis is always looking ahead, and looking for opportunity–something she says we can all find, even during crises (or pandemics).
Her advice for brands to remain nimble and thriving even during challenging times is threefold: build and maintain a strong and authentic brand and identity; generate revenue from different streams (diversify, diversify, diversify!); and always keep your community as engaged as possible.
And since March 18th, that was the Breathe mission. Aside from adapting quickly to a virtual yoga and meditation schedule, they added a variety of programs to offer their clients “flexible structure.” These included:
- A virtual 40 Days of Transformation program (350 enrolled)
- A Reset Your Diet program for people to shed post quarantine lethargy
- Multiple “Store to Street” shopping events for Breathe and Breathe at Home, giving customers an opportunity to have curbside or home delivery for their boutique shopping for Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc.
- Breathe is also currently midway through their 21 Day Meditation Challenge, with 291 people meditating daily. Though a relatively new addition to their core offerings, Cyndi says, “Meditation is the next great wave in our country with wellness” or, as she calls it, “the growing edge.” Breathe is one of the only studios in the country that holds meditation teacher training for yoga teachers.
Community isn’t just clientele, either. Just as important for Cyndi is engagement with and appreciation of her staff, so she compiled an expansive list of over 40 items big and small (including things like “created breathe at home brand kit” to “updated cleaning protocols for reopening” to “massive reorganization of offices and storage spaces”) their team had accomplished over the past 100 days of the pandemic, so they could revel in them as a collective.
Everything Cyndi Weis touches and espouses runs far, wide, and deep and emblematizes the idea of “holistic” health. Even in an uncertain world, the Breathe future is bright.
Follow them on social media: @breathelivelifeinspiredb & @breatheathome