Emma qualified as a yoga teacher in August 2015 and has already made several positive strides in building up her private yoga class schedule, nutrition consultancy and an exciting niche wellness business in the modelling world.
She spoke to The Present of Yoga about what she’s done so far and the lessons she’s learned along the way.
Becoming a yoga teacher and starting Frankie Says OM…
I started doing yoga when I was in my teens with my mum, because that’s what she was doing and it was something for us to do together. As I’ve always been a naturally flexible person, it was something I did well and so I really enjoyed it. It was also a nice way to spend some time with my mum. Then I went off to university and somehow I lost yoga somewhere along the way!
When I moved back to the UK, maybe five years ago, I found it again, wanting to start doing some sort of exercise. As it’s so cold in the UK you can’t really go and do stuff outside. I was living in Australia and Singapore before, so I could have done beachy, outdoorsy things, but moving here I needed to do something indoors. So I started doing yoga and just fell in love with it all over again!
Eventually, the work that I was doing wasn’t really fulfilling me and I felt stuck. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. My mum has been such a big influence in my life – I was complaining to her that I didn’t know what I should do, I mentioned that maybe I’d do my yoga teacher training, and she responded positively, “Well, why wouldn’t you do your yoga training?” “Well, because, you know, I don’t think I’m quite good enough yet. I need to be able to do a handstand before I can do my yoga training.” She said, “Why?” and I said, “I don’t know.” You get nervous thinking everyone’s going to be incredible on a yoga teacher training. I didn’t think I would be good enough; I was busy doubting myself. My mum said to me, “Where were you thinking of doing your yoga teacher training?”. I replied “Well, I was looking at this place in Bali…” After we got off the phone, she called me back a little later and told me that she was going to pay the deposit, so I had to do it! She told me not to procrastinate and to just get out there and do it and it was the best thing that I’ve ever done. It’s completely changed my life, and I’ve never been happier. So thanks to my lovely mum!
Coming back to London…
When I came back from my training, I was nervous. It’s very nerve-wracking to put yourself out there, stand in front of people and act like you know what you’re doing when really you’re… [laughs] crying inside a little bit, because you’re just so very very nervous!
I attended a lot of classes, because I found that was really beneficial. Doing that enables you to listen to the way the other teachers are directing. You pick up on things, you go, “Ah, yes, that was brilliant and so clear, the way she described that, I can use that cue.” That was unbelievably helpful for me. I went to lots of classes with lots of different teachers. I also started teaching free classes to my close friends and family to ease myself in. I put a time limit on it though, because if you offer free classes and don’t put a time limit on it in your mind, well, you’re going to be teaching free forever!
My flatmate loved yoga, so I would teach her once a week. Just one morning a week, for free, for five weeks. That gave me five practice classes with her. I also told a bunch of my friends who didn’t really like or do yoga, who only agreed to this as a favour, that I would be holding a yoga class in my house every Saturday morning, also for free, also for five weeks. So, basically, I’d given myself five weeks to find my yoga teacher voice and feet, then after that, for the ones who wanted to continue, I started charging.
I then started my yoga business website, Frankie Says OM – named after my dog Frankie who attends most of my classes that I teach! Having this website gave me somewhere to easily direct potential clients, so that they could find me and book my classes easily. After that I started inviting other people. I attend dance classes regularly and so I started inviting girls from there. I knew them, we were acquaintances, we chatted when I was in dance class, but we didn’t hang out outside of the class. So there was that bit of extra pressure, in that now I had to be totally professional, because they weren’t my close mates and they were all paying.
My main selling point was the girls saying to me in dance class, “So, how come you’re so strong and flexible?” and I’d say, “Oh, it’s yoga…and I teach it.”. It was the perfect flow of conversation. I wasn’t doing a hard sell and it felt totally organic in the way that it happened. And now I’ve got a little group that I teach every Saturday morning, and they’re mainly girls from my dance school, it’s just lovely.
I actually initially hired a space, to teach in a dance school that I was attending, with the aim of attracting some of the other dancers. I find that, really, the best way to sell yourself is to get out there and go into your local community, tap into the market that you already have set up. These people like you already. They’re already rooting for you and they want you to succeed They’re excited for you because they know you, even though they’re not your best mates. That was the first bunch of people that I got to attend my classes, people I already knew.
Since then, I have also started approaching other places, such as yoga studios, as now I felt confident with my teaching abilities. It made a big difference to me personally that I’d already taught a lot of classes by this point because, when I am asked to do auditions, I have the confidence to say “Yes, no problem. I know I can handle that, because I’ve taught so many classes already”, rather than saying “OK” and then floundering because I was so nervous.
I would say to new teachers, ease yourself in; you’re not in a rush. Take your time; you’ve got the rest of your life to teach yoga. Go slow until you feel totally comfortable with it. But definitely start straight away. Just get in there and get your hands dirty with your mates – your mates love you, they’ll love your yoga!
Since August 2015, Emma has also started a nutrition consultancy, Green Juice on the Rocks, and her model mentoring business The New Black Method. She goes on to tell us how The New Black Method started…
I had a friend who was working with MODELS 1 modelling agency. She was a model with them and she’s also a personal trainer, so she was helping them out with personal training and nutrition for the newer, younger models, who needed a bit of support. She decided to move back to Sydney. I have a health coaching qualification and I’m currently two thirds of the way through my naturopathic nutrition and nutritional medicine diploma. She put my name forward to MODELS 1 when they asked who would she suggest as a nutritional coach, which was really lovely of her. I got in contact with them and put together a nutrition programme for them. I worked with a PT to create a full fitness programme for the girls, adding yoga, of course!
After a few chats with the bookers at the agency, I started thinking how there are so many aspects to life for young models in which they might need support. It can be a cutthroat industry and they’re so young. Some of the girls that I’ve talked to and worked with are 16-17 and some don’t really know how to look after their bodies in the right way, to keep them healthy and balanced, as well as maintaining their bodies so that they can still model.
I started thinking, “Wow, this is a great little niche market.” And so I’ve created The New Black Method, which now helps to support young models in all sorts of areas like nutrition, financial management, public speaking and how to manage themselves on social media. Yoga is a big part, that can help them with getting and staying long and lean, breathing, meditation, managing anxiety and letting go of daily stresses. I’m The New Black Method yoga expert and nutrition expert, and then I have other experts across the board. I call us the model lifestylists! I’m in the process of building up this new business now, its all very exciting!
What’s next for Emma and The New Black Method?
What’s really lucky for me is that the two things that I feel really passionate about – yoga and nutrition – can be so nicely and easily linked. What you fill your body with, meaning your food, as well as how you manage your body through yoga, stress management as well as fitness, is all so interconnected. So luckily I’m able to take my two passions and use them in tandem. I try to run yoga brunches – including yoga, a nutrition talk and a three course brunch – at least once every couple of months. I love doing them. They are the perfect way to combine my two loves.
I’m also currently approaching more modelling agencies where I’m hoping that The New Black Method can become a support network for young models across many agencies, to hopefully, eventually, even branch outside of the UK. I’m from Singapore, so I hope to take the programme over there when I go back to visit my family next.
I think the models can relate to me pretty easily, because I have had all the eating disorders under the sun, I was a party girl, and I am very open and honest about it. I didn’t live my life in a clean or yogic fashion at all throughout my 20s. So I’ve been there, I get it and I know how easy it is to be overly naughty. I still like to be a little naughty sometimes! Not to the extent that I used to be naughty of course! But it’s nice to know that you still have a cheeky streak. That’s always going to be a part of me, I just know how to control it better now! But I’m honest with my clients about my health history and I think that’s what helps me to connect with my clients effectively, because I’m real, I’m relatable. I’m who I am. I’m what it says on the box!
The Present of Yoga’s takeaways
Get started straight away – teach your friends, teach a few classes for free (but put a limit on it!), just get started teaching in any way you can as soon as possible after qualifying to build up your experience of actually teaching in real environments. Action is the source of opportunity.
Spotting opportunities – if you are teaching a class in a non-conventional environment with clients that you like or resonate with, think about what other complementary needs they may have that you can help them with or perhaps how you can teach more yoga classes to them. This very mindset led to Emma discovering her niche for The New Black Method.