Dan Lasko | Bottoms Up! Yoga & Brew
From our first digital conversation, I knew that Dan was an extremely ambitious individual and I was proven correct when we met in person. He has a contagious, go-getter energy about him that makes someone like me, who is not passionately into yoga, want to get in on the action.
As told through our conversation, this is Dan’s story.
[Lindy]: When you were growing up, was owning a yoga business something you thought you’d pursue?
[Dan]: Oh man, no. I wanted to be a Nintendo game tester. That was my ultimate goal in life—to test Nintendo games.
[L]: At what point did your mindset change from Nintendo Gamer to Yogi?
[D]: *laughs* When I grew up. I would probably say in college, actually. I pursued marketing in college and two semesters in I realized that advertising is a subset of marketing, so I kind of chose the wrong one to pursue. But, it really worked out for the best, because now that I have my own business and need to market it, it’s coming in handy. For once in my life, my degree is paying off.
Growing up, Dan moved quite frequently around the Cleveland suburbs and ultimately obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing from Cleveland State University. But, after graduating, Dan’s life took a turn for the worse and he endured his rock bottom.
[D]: I have been through a lot in my life. I have lived through some really difficult times and after a while, things began to pile up. I became very self-destructive and I was in a really bad spot. When I finally hit rock bottom, I knew that I had to make a change. I have been a Christian all of my life so I got back on track, got close to God again, worked through it, and now I am in a position where I want to help others.
[L]: I am happy to hear that you are back on track and doing your part to help others who need it. Are you running Bottoms Up! Yoga & Brew full time or do you have a day job?
[D]: I do have a day job. In January, I got laid off from a company I had been I working for for about 4 years. But, I walked out of that building for the last time, went straight to Midwest Process Controls, and they hired me on the spot for more money and more responsibility. Now, I work there as the office manager. In general, I’ve really had a major lifestyle change this past year. I went from a job where I was scheduling and routing parts and jobs for a manufacturing company, to managing an office and starting my own business. I even got married in March, so that’s a big thing! 2018 has been crazy!
Earlier this year, Dan and his wife, Brigitte, committed to a lifetime of happiness as well as a healthier lifestyle. The Laskos have been focusing on eating better at home and dedicate time in their week to go to the gym together.
[L]: Congratulations! 2018 has been huge for you; that’s beautiful! Before we dive into talking about your business, I want to talk a bit about your journey with yoga. When did you start doing yoga? How did you get into it?
[D]: I started practicing yoga in 2013. I have always been in a lot of pain; I have a messed-up neck and back, I’ve broken my foot like 7 times in my life and sprained them many more than that. I’ve even had foot surgery. I really decided to try yoga to alleviate some of the pain from all of those injuries. Looking back, yoga has done a lot more than just lessen my pain. It has taught me to focus on the microdetails that I usually would have never thought about; It taught me self-awareness.
[L]: In what ways has yoga opened your eyes?
[D]: I am the type of person to go full force at everything I set my mind to, and that is what happened with working out and losing weight; Between, maybe 2012-2013, I lost almost 100 pounds. Finally, I decided to ease up on myself and become a bit more lax. Yoga made me realize that you are healthiest when you have a healthy mindset.
[L]: And, you’ll be healthier in the long run for having a healthier mindset! I feel like that’s where a lot of people fall through in the workout game. They just want to do it all at once and then they exhaust themselves.
[D]: Exactly. I was working at Fat Head’s Brewery at the time for extra money and allowed beer back into my life while I was working there. My mindset shifted and it became more about balancing my two lifestyles: fitness and my enjoyment of craft beer.
In June, Dan decided to put his passion for yoga and beer together to form a business. At the time, Fat Head’s was closing their old location to prepare for their new one and Dan decided to take the opportunity to pursue his dreams.
[D]: It’s really only been a few months since I started pursuing Bottoms Up! Yoga & Brew as a business. I started by reaching out to graphic designers to create my logo. I hired one, sent him my ideas, and he could not seem to understand what I wanted. So, I made one myself. Then, I got the website and social media up and running and ultimately got my LLC. Finally, I hired my instructors and began making networks. It’s been crazy! I’ve honestly been working non-stop. Literally, I wake up and work. I go to work. I come home and work. And then I go to bed. And, if I’m not at home working, I go to a brewery and work there and chat with people. It’s been fun but it’s way more time dedication than I imagined.
[L]: Oh my gosh, you have so much going on! You got this up and running so fast! How has your wife been through this whole process?
[D]: She’s been super supportive. At the beginning it was a little tough because I was going full force and forgetting to update her about things, so I’ve been much better about that! But, she understands. She is amazing and has been 200% supportive in all aspects of my life.
[L]: I loved that she is so supportive, especially since this is happening to early in your marriage. It really shows how strong your relationship is.
[D]: Her support is so important because I’m learning as I go with this. But, so is everyone else. Nobody knows what they’re doing in life. You think your parents had it together growing up? They didn’t. They were just a bunch of adults trying to make it. And now we are there, too. But, I am trying to make the best of it as I go and continue be infectious with my ambition.
Dan is not just putting 100% effort into Bottoms Up! Yoga & Brew for the business aspect. His main goal is to provide fun physical fitness classes to people at an affordable price. He wants to impact people through fun physical activity, and in the meantime, show some love to Cleveland breweries.
[L]: What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since launching your business?
[D]: That when you are starting a business, being flexible is important. I’ve had double bookings and last-minute changes, but that is just part of the learning process. My very first class had a wrench thrown in it right off the bat. At the last minute, the brewery called and told me that the city would not allow us to hold a class in the designated park and that they would not be able to accommodate our event in time for the scheduled class. So, I was stuck with all of these already-paid-for-ads and no class. I had to be flexible, take the loss, shift everything over to my second class, and began promoting that one. On the up-side, everything worked out and our first event was packed!
[L]: Flexibility really is key. It’s a bummer your first event worked out that way but at least you learned something from it. Besides social media, how have you been getting the word about your classes out?
[D]: Honestly, I have no problem talking to people to spread the word. If I spot somebody in yoga gear, I’ll ask if they are into yoga and beer, and if they say yes, I will tell them about Bottoms Up!. I really have kind of been going guerrilla with this. I have even gone so far as to put my business cards in yoga mats on Walmart shelves! If I bought a yoga mat from Walmart and found a business card for yoga classes in there, I would absolutely check that business out.
[L]: Good for you! That’s a brilliant idea! What’s been the most challenging part about starting a business?
[D]: *laughs* CONTENT CREATION! By far. I have 11 breweries that I am currently working with and I am finally at the point of asking people to help me. I cannot keep up with the social media posts, advertising, and managing all by myself anymore. So, I am shifting my focus from doing everything myself to becoming super organized and handing out the responsibilities. It’s funny because about a week after I got my LLC, a Marketing Manager sent me their resume, and I really couldn’t hire anyone then. I was brand new. But, I am now at the point where I have too many things pending. I really need to focus and make things happen. Right now, I just have a bunch of fresh ideas and need people to help me bring those ideas to life.
[L]: Divvying up responsibilities is not a bad thing! It just means that you are growing. Where do you expect to go with this? What’s your timeline? What’s your ultimate dream?
[D]: I told myself that within 1 year, I would have a class at every Cleveland brewery; That’s about 30 breweries. We are almost three months in and I am already 1/3 of the way there. I guess I kind of have to revise my end goal. Since like 2013, I have always wanted my own yoga studio, but I never pursued that because it did not seem attainable. I always thought, “You can’t open a studio. You don’t have the money for that. That’s not something I could do.” (pauses) Uh, yeah it is. This process has made me realize that I can do it. It is attainable. I just have to stop making excuses and do it!
[L]: I’m so impressed, I cannot believe this journey just started in June! Is there anything that you wish you could have done differently?
[D]: If I could do it all over, I would be more organized from the get go. I have gotten into a bad habit of trying to cram my brain with all of this information and I haven’t been the best at writing things down. Now that business is booming, I need to stay on top of collecting information and be better about getting it written down so that I can save space in my brain. But, hey, you learn as you go. I started out with nothing and I didn’t think it would become so detailed!
Though it is his first time starting a business, this isn’t Dan’s first time managing people. He strives to be the type of boss that he always idolized; someone that is open with communication but holds people accountable without coming off as too harsh. In Dan’s eyes, one of the most important things in the work environment is the culture.
[D]: If you work for a really great company, but the people suck, nobody is going to want to work there. It doesn’t matter how much money you are making. Happiness is better than money.
[L]: That is so refreshing to hear. Culture is so important in a business. People need real people managing them and it is an important piece of the work place to have a manager that is good at managing their employees.
[D]: It’s the truth. All you need is respect and kindness and people will be very willing to work with you. Lucky for me, brewery people are very laid back and yoga people are very laid back. I kinda fell into a good little niche, you know?
[L]: I have a good friend in Philadelphia who is a yoga teacher, and when I was telling her about this meeting, she was like, “Oh my god, why didn’t I think of that! Why are more people not doing this?”
[D]: I sort of have to pinch myself that I am living out this dream. It is an honor to run this business. In my eyes, if I pay, you know, $250 bucks, to have a booth at an event and I only reach one person but I change their life, that’s worth it to me. I’m trying to change lives and I am exploring any and all avenues to make that happen.
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