Inside: Q&A with founder and owner of Hometown Sweat yoga studio, Maria McBride.
Thirteen years ago I walked into the Boston Celtics office for my first day of work. Six of us were starting in our new Inside Sales roles that day, our first big kid jobs out of college, and the next year was about to take us on a rollercoaster ride. We would form friendships, learn what we liked in the world of work, figure out what we didn’t like, and determine our tolerance for making cold sales calls.
One of those six coworkers was Maria McBride, now the owner of Hometown Sweat, a thriving yoga studio in Massachusetts. I’ve been following Maria’s journey in entrepreneurship and cheering her on from afar, but I recently had a chance to catch up with her to learn more about how she got where she is today.
If you’ve ever thought about building your own business, you’re going to want to meet Maria. There is no one way to do this, there are hundreds of different ways into entrepreneurship, but her story is going to help you see the possibilities.
Let’s meet Maria in this next installment of Career Sweet Spot Q&A!
Meet Maria and Hometown Sweat
Becca: For those who don’t know you yet, can you tell us about yourself and your business, Hometown Sweat?
Maria: Yes! I live in my hometown with my husband Ben and our three kids Joseph (6), Winna (5), and Theo (3). When I was a kid, I loved where I lived, and I always told myself that I would move back here after college and open a business. As a child, I didn’t know what business that would be or how I would do it, but the vision was a constant.
Becca: How did Hometown Sweat get started?’
Maria: Fast forward to college, and a roommate introduced me to my first Original Hot Yoga class (also known as Bikram Yoga or 26&2). It was love at first sweat, and all of a sudden this vision of mine started to take shape. I would open a hot yoga studio in my hometown to serve my hometown community.
It didn’t all happen quite that fast though. After college graduation, I took an Inside Sales job with the Boston Celtics (where I met the fabulous Becca!). I call this job a glorified internship, BUT this entry-level gig afforded me the ability to attend a 9-week teacher training program from the ticket sales commission we earned by selling out season packages with the acquisition of Kevin Garnett!
After teacher training, two years of teaching and honing my skills around New England, and many, many site tours to vacant commercial spaces that weren’t quite right, I finally found the home for Hometown Sweat in early 2010. After a summer-long build-out, we opened our doors on September 30, 2010 and never looked back.
(Editors note: I love that Kevin Garnett was extremely pivotal in both of our lives. I think our Inside Sales coworkers Laura, Porter, Tom, and Brian would probably agree!)
Let’s Talk Hot Yoga
Becca: For anyone who has never tried hot yoga before, what’s one thing they should know?
Maria: One thing? Hydrate.
Drink plenty of water the 24-48 hours leading up to class. Being well-hydrated will allow you to “handle” the heat, meaning it won’t overwhelm you.
And if I could add one more thing… a hot yoga practice – specifically “Original Hot Yoga,” truly has the power to change your life. Well, YOU have the power to change your life, and hot yoga can help.
From a physical standpoint, this practice works every part of your body, we say bones to skin and fingertips to your toes. It’s also 100% low impact and therapeutic meaning that if you have an injury, a limitation, or chronic or acute pain, this practice will make you feel better, not worse and your ailments could cease to exist.
Over the years, we’ve seen so many folks heal chronic back pain, recover from hip surgery, avoid back surgery, and help kick unhealthy addictions.
Maria’s Career Sweet Spot
Becca: How did you find your career sweet spot (the intersection of your passions, strengths, and value you add to others) as a business owner?
Maria: You know, during my senior year at Ithaca College, one of my favorite professors looked at the class of graduating students one evening and said, “You spoiled kids better go out and do something in the world that helps people.” That really stuck with me.
When I started to see how people really used yoga to, in many cases, save their own lives, I thought, I want to facilitate that kind of help. I want to provide the space and the classes and the teaching for that kind of transformation.
Over the years of business ownership, I have identified the responsibilities needed to make my business run and thrive. I do what I enjoy, and I hire others to do what I don’t enjoy. This allows me to double down on what I like and what I’m good at and ensures that I don’t get bogged down by the things that squash my soul (dramatic perhaps but true)!
Proud Moments and Big Challenges of Entrepreneurship
Becca: Business ownership is amazing, and challenging, and life-changing. Let’s talk about the ups and downs!
What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?
Maria: Oh gosh. I think I’ve had a few:
Hitting the 10-year mark for sure (we had our 10 year anniversary on Sept. 30, 2020).
Developing a team of strong, smart, compassionate women who work for Hometown Sweat whether they do sales, customer service, retail, teaching, or all of the above.
The day in and day out realization that people come to my studio to make their lives better. Hometown Sweat is their prescription, their therapy, their medicine. It feels really good to know we are making such a positive difference in our community members’ lives.
What has been your biggest entrepreneurial challenge?
Maria: When I had my first baby, Joseph, I felt the most challenges. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and that became abundantly clear as I sat in the recovery room, just hours after giving birth, sending out an email blast that class would be canceled the next day due to a snowstorm.
I think the intensity and magnitude of going from “not a mom” to “a mom” literally in one push (ok or many!) shakes a woman to her core – I know it did for me. My identity had been “yoga teacher” and “business owner” and now here I was with this little life depending on me. The mother identity took over strongly and I wasn’t prepared for how to handle that.
Somehow though, my business has grown with each baby we’ve had and I think it’s because I get laser-focused on what’s needed to survive and don’t get bogged down by anything else.
The Nuts and Bolts of Business Ownership
Becca: What advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business?
Maria: Get a lawyer and an accountant to make sure you set up everything right from the start. Gotta get the un-sexy advice out of the way first, right?
Then in no particular order:
1. Hire someone soon out of the gate to help you with the things that anyone can do. Even if it’s just 10 hours a week to start, get in the habit of delegating.
2. Market your business, always. I love the mindset of marketing when you’re busy to stay busy, don’t market when you’re slow to get busy because then it’s too late. Too late for what, I don’t know … ha! But it’s really hard to build momentum that way.
3. Double down on doing what you’re good at and what you enjoy because when you do, your authentic message comes through strongly and clearly.
4. Continue to invest in your own education whether it’s courses, seminars, conferences, 1 on 1 coaching, keep your mind open and sharp.
(Editor’s note: Check out this post on Maria’s blog, 10 paradigm shifts that lead to growth and freedom. It’s so good!)
The Life of a Working Mom
Becca: Can you talk a bit about how you manage your time as a busy working mother and business owner? Don’t worry, I’m not asking “how you do it all?” It’s more, what tips, tricks, and strategies have you picked up to make things even a little bit easier?
Maria: My husband and I are really equal partners when it comes to home life and work life. A few things I’ve adopted to keep me grounded and focused:
1. Email autoresponder is on all the time. In my auto message I answer FAQs and I let people know what time I respond to email.
2. Grocery pick up or delivery is a game-changer (and a money saver!).
3. I wake up every morning at least one hour before the rest of my household. This is time for me to do the most important things, the things that make me the happiest, the things that no one else can do for me. Sometimes I workout. Oftentimes I write. But whatever it is, having this uninterrupted time really sets my day off on a positive, grounded tone.
4. Totally accepting and embracing mismatched socks and outfits (kids and often myself!) that don’t match!!
90s Kids at Heart
Becca: Time for a little 90s fun! I make A LOT of 90s references here as a proud elder millennial. Can we do some 90s favorites rapid style? Musician, TV show, overly processed food, fashion trend!
Maria: Yes!!! I’m a proud elder millenial too!!!
Musician – Billy Joel. Does he count as 90’s? I still know every song on the River of Dreams album, and when I saw him at Fenway a few years ago and he played River of Dreams, I bawled my little eyes out.
TV Show – I mean, Friends. Is there even anything else?! I know this technically went into the 2000’s, but it had my heart in 1994.
Overly Processed Food – Oh gosh, I just remember LOVING being dropped off at the mall and getting one of those fresh-baked mall cookies – macadamia white chocolate chunk and – wait for it – a diet cherry vanilla coke!! My head is literally pounding as I think about the chemicals … I’m also kind of craving it.
Fashion Trend – Wind suits FTW. Stylish(maybe?) but definitely comfy. Even had my 3rd-grade school pic taken in one.
Advice for Moms
Becca: Last question! Any piece of parental wisdom you’d like to drop on us? I always like to share that my go-to piece of advice is “none of us know what we’re doing” so the bar is quite low on this.
Maria: All I can say is that we are parenting during a time where no parent has parented before. All parents are when you think about it. So just know that whatever your mom did and whatever her mom did, you can’t compare it to now because the whole scope is different.
Every time I do one of these interviews I walk away with this overwhelming sense of gratitude. I’ve learned so much from these remarkable women managing family, managing careers, and managing to laugh through it all! (Plus, the trips down memory lane always have me feeling nostalgic for some inflatable furniture and Mall Madness.)
Huge thank you to Maria for sharing her time and her story! If you’re local to Natick, MA, please go check out Hometown Sweat for a yoga class. And even if you’re not, check out Maria’s blog posts on the Hometown Sweat website. We didn’t even get into this much, but Maria is also a fantastic writer and I know you’ll love her stuff!