Leaving the office for the mat

 

Nancy Won 0 Premium content image

My last year at business school I got a job at Intrawest Resorts, and I flew out to Los Angeles as soon as I graduated. I was part of a team called the Village People—we developed resort villages, sort of like Whistler Village. We’d put together a master plan for the properties then look for local businesses to bring in to the resort. I got to see inside a lot of small businesses. I think that’s how I fell in love with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur.

At the same time, I had begun practicing yoga in L.A., mostly because I wanted to meet people. But over the course of the five years I was there, it began to transform me—like as a human being. My sister Emily, who lived in Spain at the time, was having a similar experience, and we just thought more people needed to feel the way we felt.

We opened 889 because we wanted to create a place that inspired people to live happy healthy lives. We knew it would have a yoga component, a wellness component and a boutique, but conceptualizing it all without having seen it before, or even knowing where it was going to be—you need to be a visionary. We opened in 2007. In the end, we approached it like you would a boutique hotel, really focusing on the guest experience, everything from the design of the space to hiring a dedicated concierge. A huge part of the experience at 889 is what happens from the time someone walks through the door to the moment they roll their mat down to start class. Which isn’t even what they’re coming for—or what they think they’re coming for—but it’s a big part of why they come back.

— as told to Nancy Won

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