We had the good fortune of connecting with Bri Hamlet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bri, how do you think about risk?
Risk is necessary, whether we realize it or not. We’re all risk takers, but the differentiator is whether we bet on ourselves or tried-and-true systems in front of us. I realize now that I love taking risks because I always bet on myself. Being a risk taker is the reason I’m an entrepreneur – I believed enough in my ability to succeed in the yoga industry to invest thousands of dollars in training, spend hours preparing for auditions, and allot years of my life to promoting what I can offer. Every time I bet on myself, I remember that the worst thing anyone could tell me is ‘no,’ and that calculated risk is worth it every time.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
JustBriFree Yoga and Wellness offers yoga instruction and wellness workshops with an intersectional, multidisciplinary lens. The name ‘JustBriFree’ had been my social media handle for almost 10 years before it became my business! I always loved the sentiment of exploring true freedom, and that’s ultimately what I invite my students to explore on the mat. While JBF serves everyone, most clientele are black and indigenous people of color, as well as LGBTQIA+ persons. As a black and queer woman, my clients often report that learning from a person who shares their identities enhances their overall experience by empowering them to reclaim their well-being.
I started the business in 2019 after struggling to find the right studio space for me – an issue many underrepresented teachers experience. What I initially began begrudgingly turned out to be an amazing idea, as I got to hone into my style of teaching without the parameters of someone else’s brand. I marketed my first class about 4 weeks after formalizing my LLC, and it sold out. Soul Flow Sunday, my R&B yoga class, started in May 2019. I hosted classes nearly every weekend until March 2020. It was not easy to self-promote! However, my desire to bring yoga to my community was greater than my distain for marketing.
Along the way I learned that your reputation is your greatest gift – use it wisely! My business expanded greatly due to those who loved what they experienced and shared it with others. My classes aren’t just about the music – they’re about authentic self-exploration through a yogic lens. I’ve learned that being myself, openly and honestly, has been my gift. Being an out queer woman has never gotten in the way of an opportunity that was truly for me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love this question! I’ll start with food. I’d take my best friends out for coffee at Quiet Storm Roasters & Bakers, then Bahn Thai in University Heights for Pad See Ew, and then down the street to Stella Jean’s Ice Cream – the S’mores flavor has my heart. For dinner I’d go for Donna Jean or Cocina de Barrio, as both have fantastic vegetarian options. For cocktails, I’m all about Kindred or Polite Provisions.
To hang out, I’d take them to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, Balboa Park, and Ocean Beach (the dog beach is so entertaining). We’d also have to swing by Agev Co in Barrio Logan for crystals and other metaphysical goods. For a fun time, I’d see what events are happening at Quartyard or Park & Rec. I’d also sneak some fitness classes in – probably a spin class at Activate House and a yoga class at Sojourn Healing Collective!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It might be cliché, but my shoutout is dedicated to my parents. They’re the ultimate risk-takers in my life, the firsts to instill the idea of entrepreneurship in me. They bet so much on their children, and I know I get my nerve from every risk they’ve taken for me. Thanks, mom and dad – you two are everything.
Peyton Hamby (green outfit), Karra Leigh (floral group class), Chris Rov Costa (outdoor group class).