We had the good fortune of connecting with Steve Hart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steve, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
This has been a recurring question on my mind over the course of the lock-down. The challenges that we faced have been tremendous and the uncertainty of the future weighs heavily. But the question of whether to give up is answered very simply. As long as we are able to provide good to our community, a safe place to refuge from the chaos of the world, and help make people’s lives just a little bit better, we will fight to survive and keep providing services to the absolute best of our ability. The feedback has been incredible! The amount of people who have come forward in appreciation of what we do and thankful for the good we’ve created in their lives has been the fire that has fueled us thus far. I get stopped in the street regularly, usually identified by my dog Raja who has a major presence at the studio, and thanked for what we do at Riffs. As long as I can continue to help people through this crazy time, I will not give up. This fills up my cup and defines my purpose to survive. I am also inspired by the opportunity to make a positive impact in the fight against racial injustice in the yoga community, and world as a whole. We’ve always been a studio focused on inclusion and I am energized that we as a community can create effective change in the industry. We have several initiatives in the works at the studio that we are excited to roll out, and as long as we exist, we will continue with this important work.
What should our readers know about your business?
The mission of Riffs is to provide a means of health, happiness, and the evolution of consciousness through the practice of yoga. We don’t have mirrors as we want the focus of our service to be inwards, tapping into the sensation of connectedness amongst all people. We offer a variety of class styles from the more dynamic Vinyasa to the more meditative Yin to the heart-centered Anusara, with a strong emphasis on sound healing services. We actually first opened as a music studio in 2012, and though we have shifted focus to yoga over the years, there is still a strong influence of music as we provide live musicians in several of our weekly classes. Our Bird Rock location is unique in that it is outdoors, surrounded by bamboo and banana trees, with a nice ocean breeze blowing through. This outdoor location has been a major challenge over the years as we cope with weather fluctuations and the unpredictability of running an outdoor business, but in current times it has shown to be a major blessing as we have been able to continue operating safely while our indoor location in Ocean Beach was forced to close. I started this business in 2012 as a 23-year world with little experience, but a strong ambition to provide a service that helps people and benefits the community. I believe the ability to learn from my mistakes, coupled with a strong persistence to endure the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, and a willingness to adapt, have been the keys to our success thus far. Ultimately, I learned, it is about the balance of value. As long as the service we provide meets or exceeds the expectations of our customers, we will be successful. We are dedicated to maximizing the quality of service we provide and know that the revenue will come as a byproduct of the value we provide to our community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, most of my favorite things to do are closed at the moment, so a lot of time would be spent outside and exploring the city. I think it would start with a walk around Bird Rock to see all the beautiful overlooks in the area. If the waves are on, we would jump in the water for a surf, and then head over to Riffs for a gentle stretch. We’d hop down to Ocean Beach for a lunch at Peoples and perhaps take my dog down to dog beach for a little run. Perhaps a hike at Torrey Pines or a beach day at Windansea. Otherwise, I’d frequent my favorite places to eat in Bird Rock such as Wayfarer, Seaside, and Wheat & Water and just enjoy the beautiful weather that we are blessed with here in San Diego.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow, so many people! The staff over the years have all contributed to what Riffs have become and I am so grateful for their contribution, no matter how big or small, to build our community. A few people in particular- Karina Gerschler has been invaluable to the Riffs community, and for me personally, as we dealt with the ups and downs of running the business. Her love and passion for the community and the yoga practice is inspiring and a huge part of our success is due to her efforts over the last 6 years. My dad and brothers have provided countless hours of support over the years and are a constant source of love in my life. And of course, my mother who passed away in 2014. She is my inspiration in life, a source of constant love that pours through me and drives me to share that love with others. The most compassionate and selfless person I knew, she lives through my work and constantly helps me to make decisions that would make her proud.