For The Peaceful Peacock founder Katie Donzanti (she/her), it all started with a lost bet that landed her in a yoga class—although losing the friendly bet was what brought her to her mat in the first place, Donzanti fell in love with the practice. Ten years later, she left a lucrative career in digital marketing to follow her passion and purpose. And so, The Peaceful Peacock yoga studio was born.
“I didn't feel like I was making a difference in the world or helping my community. So I knew I wanted to leave marketing and open a yoga studio. But I talked myself out of it for several years because owning a small business seemed insurmountable,” Donzanti shares.
However, Donzanti’s passion outweighed any hesitations or fears about opening a new business. She began keeping a notebook of ideas for the perfect yoga studio and started shopping it around with yoga teachers to gauge interest.
After a handful of “noes,” Donzanti took matters into her own hands. She wrote up a business plan, opened the studio, and the rest is history. This is the story of how she grew her client base.
Carving out a new, more inclusive path
In her early days of filling the notebook with ideas, Donzanti closely observed the yoga scene in her hometown of Orlando, Florida. She noticed that, specifically in western culture, yoga revolved largely around capitalism.
“Yoga was very expensive. So I started to look at it through the lens of accessibility—not only in regards to the price point but also in terms of social justice and ableism,” explains Donzanti. “And I realized there were very few opportunities for people to attend a yoga class unless they made a certain amount of money or looked a certain way or lived in a certain neighbourhood.”
The initial observation of inequality in yoga sparked a hint of rage (rightfully so). But that frustration quickly turned into passion, and Donzanti made it her mission to build on pillars of diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. To this day, that’s precisely what you’ll find when you step into The Peaceful Peacock.
“I'm a big fan of the show Cheers, and the premise that everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. I wanted to create the same kind of place for yoga: a place where you come for yoga but also find a sense of community and belonging,” says Donzanti.
That sense of community and acceptance flows intentionally throughout every element of The Peaceful Peacock, including the brand identity representing the flocking nature of peacocks.
“When one of them is down, they huddle together. They don't leave anyone behind,” explains Donzanti.
The challenges of building (and re-building) a client base
One of the biggest challenges for any new business owner is building a robust and loyal client base. People are often creatures of habit, so it can take some convincing (and savvy marketing) to get them to try something new. After all, it took a lost bet to get Donzanti into her first yoga class.
“It’s challenging to convince someone to try yoga,” she says. “Even someone who has the financial means and body confidence. It's still easier to sit on the couch and watch Netflix—and I get it, it’s easier to take the path of least resistance.”
Beyond coaching people into the right mindset to give yoga a shot, the pandemic presented a whole new challenge: creating a space where people feel both emotionally comfortable and physically safe.
“Finding new students was a challenge before COVID. Now it's an even bigger challenge,” says Donzanti. “We also lost clients during the pandemic, for one reason or another: due to job loss, relocation, or just not feeling comfortable out in public. Plus there are psychological impacts to what we’re going through. So coming out of it, we want to rebuild in a way that’s supportive for students and teachers.”
Of course, for every challenge, there’s a solution.
How Mindbody helps bring in new students
To connect with new students, Donzanti turned to Mindbody. Coming from a digital marketing career, she knew early on the importance of user experiences, platforms, and optimization.
“I decided to partner with Mindbody in the first week of business because it streamlines everything. If you take advantage of its full capabilities, it is a one-stop-shop,” says Donzanti. “You won’t find any other platform that’s as user-friendly for students, staff, and owners.”
The pandemic only strengthened the partnership between The Peaceful Peacock and Mindbody.
To get new students into the studio and virtual classes, Donzanti leverages the power of promoted intro offers and dynamic pricing. With this feature, she’s able to present the right offer, at the right time, to the right people—without spending a ton of time analyzing data.
"Promote is like a crockpot: I can set it and forget it, and it stays turned on. All I have to do is set up the offers. That’s it. I see consistent revenue from those promoted offers—without putting in any additional marketing time or dollars,” Donzanti shares. “I also use the promote reports as key performance indicators to see what’s working—which is so valuable given that I don’t have a world-class research team on staff.”
Ultimately, for Donzanti, the Mindbody promote feature generates awareness with potential clients beyond her regular social media and marketing reach.
“It’s essential from a top-of-funnel standpoint—not only to generate awareness with new clients but also to present them with high-converting offers that make sense with where they’re at in their journey,” she says.
Evolving into the future of wellness
So what’s next? Like peacocks, The Peaceful Peacock plans to migrate. The pandemic has permanently changed the way many wellness studios operate—and those that adapt will thrive. While nothing is set in stone, Donzanti is looking into ways her studio can embrace the future of hybrid wellness. Part of that includes re-evaluating how the physical studio space can best serve students both in-person and online.
“The effects of the pandemic will be with us for a long time. Now that we know the best practices for owning a yoga studio during a pandemic, the space requirements and the way we offer props looks very different,” explains Donzanti. “Our main focus is to rebuild the student population in a way that’s safe, sustainable, and accessible for everyone.”
Looking forward, social justice remains a pivotal pillar for The Peaceful Peacock. As a yoga studio owner, Donzanti aims to de-centre whiteness from yoga by not only creating a thriving, accessible community—but also by sparking important conversations about justice and equality.
“Above all else, that’s why we’re here,” she concludes.