Boss Women: Highlighting businesswomen in Eau Claire

Shantel Kristian creates a calm, caring community with downtown yoga and fitness studio

Taylor Reisdorf

More stories from Taylor Reisdorf

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March 25, 2020

Nearly 20 tranquil days of practicing yoga with the Yandara Yoga Institute and sleeping in tents on the beach in Baja, Mexico sparked a fire within Shantel Kristian.

Upon her return to normal life, with a yoga instructor license in tow, Kristian said she soon decided she wanted to do more than just teach yoga. Determined to bring the kindness, peace and sense of community she experienced in Mexico back to the United States, Kristian dove into the realm of business ownership.

Now, less than two years later, Kristian is the proud owner of Sky Yoga and Fitness. Located in downtown Eau Claire and coming up on one year of business, the studio offers a wide range of classes, including traditional yoga, aerial and bungee classes, that cater to yogis of all skill levels.

“The way I see Sky Yoga is it’s a place of community, a place where people can go and feel no judgement and feel like they belong,” Kristian said. “They’re not just another person walking through that studio. We really take the time to get to know them and make them feel welcome.”

After deciding to open her own studio, Kristian said she went all in. She quit her job, and to save money, took on the role of main contractor for the business. Holding this additional title did not come without its challenges.

“I got laughed at by the men working construction,” Kristian said. “They couldn’t believe I was doing this, taking charge and kind of being the boss of them.”

Nonetheless, Kristian said she’s grateful to have had the opportunity to be on-site during the transition. It allowed for her to fully insert herself into the process and successfully achieve her vision.

The transformation from idea to full-fledged business took around six months, Kristian said. Some challenges Kristian faced included staying within the planned time frame and having unwavering trust in herself and the process.

“It was hard not knowing how everything was going to work out, but having faith that it will work out,” Kristian said.

The six months after opening were the rockiest, Kristian said. She endured plenty of ups and downs as she navigated her new role as business owner while also teaching 20 classes each week. There was a lot of trial and error, Kristian said, and the realization that nothing was set in stone was vital to her success.

As a woman making her way in the world of business ownership, Kristian said Eau Claire is an ideal city to plant her roots.

“Eau Claire is growing really fast and is ready for the next thing,” Kristian said. “There’s a ton of support…it’s ready for women entrepreneurs. I love my city.”

As of right now, Kristian said business is thriving. Every day, Kristian gets to do what she loves – yoga and fitness – while also pursuing her passion of helping others.

In terms of the future, Kristian said she hopes to continue fostering a sense of community through yoga and continue pursuing motivational speaking.

Kristian said she also plans to progress her work with Love It Forward, an organization she started. With Love it Forward, Sky Yoga and Fitness hosts an entirely donation-based class where the money raised goes to a selected charity.

For those interested in starting a business of their own, Kristian has some advice: just go for it.

“I didn’t know how everything was going to work out, and I had people tell me that I had a lot of loose ends with financials and my business plan,” Kristian said. “The advice that I got was you don’t have it all figured out, and you never will. Don’t let fear stop you.”

Reisdorf can be contacted at [email protected].