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  • Building MISFITSTUDIO : An Interview with Amber Joliat

    jessica blaine smith photography of amber joliat of misfitstudio for tyger tyger
    Amber Joliat  is the creator and owner of MISFITSTUDIO and the MISFITMETHOD, Toronto's (truly) most unique movement studio and teacher training. 
    Before I knew Amber in real life, I had heard about her from people who had taken her classes. I had the impression that she was this charismatic, mystical human and was not disappointed. She definitely is those things. She's also warm, bright, and has built one of Toronto's most important businesses. I think a lot of people focus on the teacher, but forget that Amber is also an entrepreneur who weaves thoughtfulness and care into all levels of your experience as a student at the studio. 
    I wanted to ask Amber some questions that focus a bit more on the journey, what it took to open the studio, and how it feels now that she's almost a decade into it. I'm so grateful for her real talk, these are some really potent, powerful, and inspiring words!  


    When you had the idea to start MISFITSTUDIO, was it something percolating in your mind for awhile, or was it all at once like a lightning bolt?
    OOOOOOOOFFF i'm going to real talk this as much as possible
    It was a reactive lightning bolt
    After teaching at many studios allll over toronto, i landed at just one, and it was a big shift for me. I worked for a woman who had just opened a studio, she had hired me to the be the "yoga" teacher. I helped her build her business from the ground up. Now this is who i am, it's what i do, i work fucking HARD. Not only did she take full advantage she also verbally and emotionally abused me for the almost 4 years i worked for her.. And i let her. Sadly, i didn't know how to stand up for myself, i was a push over, a people pleaser, and i put up with really fucked up behaviour from her for far too long, until one day she absolutely crossed the line and i gave my notice.
    I was teaching 35 classes a week
    it was a HUGE hit to her studio
    but i knew i had to leave.
    That evening i went to my friend sarah's tattoo shop to chill with her share my news and have a well deserved drank
    She told me she was moving to Berlin in 2 weeks
    THAT was the lightning bolt moment 
    Her space was teeny and sweet and felt so right!!!!
    I met the landlady the next day, we switched my name on the lease and BOOM, i had a space. 
    No plan, full TRUST


    How did you manage to financially get it up and running? Savings? Loans? An investor? 
    RIGHT!!! An amazing question that no one ever asks!
    I owned a loft. When i was a little girl, my father was hit and killed by a taxi cab. As a teenager i received a lump sum of money in place of his life, (pretty fucked up how that goes, placing a dollar amount on a life)
     So, i bought myself a home with the money figuring he would be happy to know i could live free as the eagle he was
    I had only ever been an artist, a dancer and dance teacher, i had some savings, but, i needed to sell that loft to get myself sorted. So i did.
    And i proudly say i have been funding MISFITSTUDIO by my damn self ever since
    How long did it take until you felt secure in the business? I mean that in the sense of, when you knew it would be successful. 
    I knew that even if i taught what i wanted, when i wanted, to people who understood that it was ART, i'd be ok
    That little studio felt like freedom 
    Success is strange to me, i've never associated it with money, rather a feeling of peace 
    It did help that near the very beginning of being open i landed on the TOP 10 LIST in Toronto Life!!!!!
    Back then, those lists actually meant something!!!!!!!!
    Literally the next day there was a line up at the door. The studio was big enough for 6 mats, and people would wait!! next door at the coffee shop for the next class to start. 
    It was madness, i thought it would fizzle out, but it didn't, so much so i started seeking larger spaces and shortly after found the coach house (rip)!!!
    Next year, MISFITSTUDIO will be ten (!!!) years old! How has the fitness/movement world changed since 2010? 
    people used to open studios because it was their LIFE WORK, now it’s not that way
    so much can be built on bullshit
    empty social media shit
    beautifully curated with no soul
    literally nothing
    and, the worst part is, people BUY IT, they go, and accept mediocre classes and think it's FINE
    it gets me allllllll fired up.
    CLASS PASS has also changed the game
    Studio culture has changed so much, there used to be sacredness, specialness, and now its just something to do or to talk about
    Class pass cheapened the experience of studio commitment. 
    And, there are studios that are only surviving because of class pass, their classes are full of one timers, and that apparently is a business model now, that, and teacher training programs
    Every fucking studio (even ones who have been open for less than a year, or 2, or 3 or 4) offer TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAMS
    like they actually have something different to offer, it’s madness!!!!!
    but then the real question is, WHERE DO ALLLLL THOSE "CERTIFIED TEACHERS" GO????
    they are the ones teaching half ass classes 
    it hurts my heart
    I remember being taken under the wings of Diane Bruni (after scrubbing toilets for classes at Downward Dog for a year, she secretly was watching my evolution) she became my yoga mentor as she saw something DIFFERENT in me, not a carbon copy of what is already out there, 
    that to me is sacred, it’s based in TRUTH
    very little is true or sacred these days
    What inspires you as a business owner? 
    MISFITSTUDIO is not a business
    it never has been for me
    it's a way of living
    it's a life style
    it's an extension of ME
    What inspires me is to remain ALIVE and PASSIONATE and EVOLVING forever more
    that way i can feed INSPIRATION into everything i do
    What have been the best business decisions you've made? 
    Beating hearts who understand my mission
    Over the years, as the magnetic pull has become stronger, this has become a more organic process, natural fits
    The rebels, the standouts, weirdos and misfits 
    We work together as a family
    What do you think your greatest achievements have been in the last ten years? 
    There are a few
    Keeping this ship sailing despite some serious wreckage 
    Maintaining my sanity, in fact deepening my own healing as i heal the wounds from growing MISFITSTUDIO
    And building a family.
    I have quite literally redefined the word family through the misfits, and now i get what the impact of that word really is.
    And the greatest disappointment or regret? 
    Every time i didn't follow my intuition 
    Recently MISFITSTUDIO decided to post less on social media. When the rest of the world seems to be ramping up their social, why did you guys make this decision? 
    I am so ranty about this right now.
    I started my teaching career wellll before social media
    When creating a magical experience was necessary 
    Each class i taught had to be so remarkable people wanted to come back for more
    My reputation was built on my hard work and uniqueness and connecting to people
    Real Life, Experience and Connection are the things we are lacking these days
    I started to notice that we would post about a BIG upcoming thing at the studio, and, no one knew about it . . . . . . .
    so i started asking, HOW did you not see that?
    Scrolling has retrained our eyes to not read
    no one reads anymore
    By continuing to feed into the addiction of scrolling, i wanted to take responsibility
    hold accountability
    and go back to old fashioned communication
    In real life, to open to experiences between people and deepen our connection to what matters
    that can't be done on a screen
    and its how i started
    so it feels good
    it feels right
    What is your best piece of advice for someone starting their own business?
    (and you already know this)
    and if that doesn't sound off putting or exhausting then dont wait
    And lastly, shout out to How I Built This, how much of your success do you attribute to luck, or just hard work? 
    I don't believe in luck
    I believe everything happens for a reason
    I have had tremendous rises and devastating falls 
    I've become the person i am today because of it all
    jessica blaine smith photography of amber joliet of misfitstudio for tyger tyger
    If you are curious about taking a class at MISFITSTUDIO, you can peep the schedule here, but there are also online videos you can check out as well! 
    Along with the studio's physical location in Toronto, there are plenty of Toronto pop-ups to check out as well as some planned for Montreal and Vancouver!