Oxygen Yoga & Fitness franchisee Samantha Collins shares her 13-year journey with a brand that just feels like home
By Stefanie Ucci
It may be hard to believe that Samantha Collins began her franchising journey with Oxygen Yoga & Fitness at just 16 years old, but it’s true! Operating as a dynamic duo with her mother Lori Collins, the pair are co-owners of two Oxygen Yoga & Fitness franchises in B.C.
Now 29 years old, Samantha looks back at her long and fruitful franchise journey with pride at how far she’s come and what a difference her family franchise has made within their community in Western Canada.
Samantha and Lori own Oxygen Yoga & Fitness franchises in the Walnut Grove and Willoughby neighbourhoods of Langley, B.C. They began their family business just over 13 years ago and are proud to have been the first Oxygen Yoga & Fitness franchise in Canada. Today, they’re one of the brand’s top-performing locations and are only growing stronger!
“The concept of Oxygen Yoga & Fitness is founded on a strong foundation of community and like-minded individuals,” explains Samantha. “When you step into a franchise, there’s so much value and I think that that’s why our business has grown so well, because there’s incredible potential with the concept of yoga, fitness and far-infrared heat.”
Oxygen Yoga & Fitness offers modern, fusion-style yoga and fitness classes, within a supportive and warm community of members who Samantha calls her “Yogi Family.” The brand was founded by CEO Jen Hamilton in 2010 and has since grown to more than 110 locations sold internationally.
Stretch outside your comfort zone
Lori acts as the owner of both studios, and largely takes care of accounting and paying bills—making sure instructors and staff are paid and all invoices are taken care of.
As for Samantha, she holds the role of CEO, and her responsibilities cover a wide range of duties. From operations and marketing to sales and the management and training of employees, every day is special and exciting for the millennial business owner.
Samantha’s typical day includes managing the studios’ social media; keeping up with customer service texts, emails, and phone calls; sales calls; and teaching classes at the studio a couple of days a week. And she still finds a bit of time for personal tasks like working out, going for dinner with her boyfriend, and walking her dogs.
“All that I do and all that I know is working,” says Samantha with a laugh.
She, like many franchise owners, admits that being an entrepreneur wasn’t originally in her life plans. “I was initially going to school to become a registered nurse. At the same time, I was also taking the first ever Oxygen Yoga & Fitness teacher training,” Samantha explains. “I started off becoming a certified yoga and fitness instructor and then my mom, who took her teacher training through a different group of franchises, said, ‘I want to do this—I want to open a studio.’”
With the support of CEO Jen Hamilton, Lori opened Oxygen Yoga & Fitness’s first franchised location. Samantha flipped her career plans upside down and opted for franchising, and so the family business was born. The two began with opening the Walnut Grove location in 2010 and, after experiencing success and building up a waitlist of customers eager to get in the doors, they opened the Willoughby location in 2017.
Samantha emphasizes that neither she nor her mom had previous business experience and they take great pride in how they developed their skills on their own.
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Owning a franchise is all about being flexible
To say owning a franchise is hard work would be an understatement for Samantha, as she lives and breathes entrepreneurship.
“Being with the company for 13 years, I have [experienced] my ebbs and flows, and I’ve encountered many opportunities, as I like to call them—never ‘problems’—that come up when it comes to the growth of our business,” says Samantha.
She adds, “For people looking into franchising, and this franchise in particular, you have to work. This business works if you work it. It’s not just a one-size-fits-all franchise structure. While the policies and procedures are great and are an awesome foundation, you really need to have a business mind to be able to gauge and change with what your community, members, and team needs.”
Samantha explains that many of her former members are now fellow franchisees—guests who saw how successful the Collins’ family business was and how much of a community environment they nurtured. For the mother-daughter duo, it’s the ultimate compliment that their own members went on to open up their own Oxygen Yoga & Fitness franchise.
That hard work Samantha mentioned? It sure has paid off for this family franchise. “We’ve remained one of the top performing locations in all of the network for sales and growth because we’re continuously pivoting through the business. For example, through the pandemic, I pivoted and created an entire online platform for my community because I knew I had to continue providing a service to our members…I feel that you have to be able to pivot with your business and think outside of the box to achieve success.”
Despite the fact that their Walnut Grove and Willoughby locations are a five-minute drive from each other, Samantha adds that how she and Lori run their businesses is completely different—because it’s dependent on the demographic of members and employees that are part of each studio.
“The day-to-day responsibilities and the discipline of hiring instructors to make sure we have a high standard of instruction at each of our franchises is something that we take great pride in,” she says.
And when it comes to both of their locations, it’s about “knowing that we’re creating such a safe space. Making an impact is something I’ll never take for granted.”
Yoga-na do great things
When it comes to advice for fellow young people looking to get into franchising, Samantha is filled with passion, excitement, and wisdom gained from experience.
“The biggest thing that has gotten me to where I am is being okay with sacrifice,” she explains. “Think about if you can miss those nights out for dinner with your friends and family or date nights downtown, and if you can sacrifice temporarily while you’re in a growth season as a business owner. Can you sacrifice missing out on those times, and are you able to put yourself and your needs, vision, and goals ahead of everything else around you temporarily so you can get to where you want to be? That’s the biggest thing to consider.”
At the end of the day, Samantha adds, “your ‘why’ has to be very strong because life’s going to happen, people are going to say things, someone’s always going to comment on social media. There’s so much noise at this age as a young entrepreneur.”
“If you can be unshakeable and never turn away from your ‘why’ then that’s going to benefit you in the future success of your business. Because you decided to do what no one else was doing.”