If You Build It, They Will Om

This entrepreneur alum drew upon her liberal-arts education to open two yoga and barre studios in her home city.

By: Meghan Kita  Wednesday, December 19, 2018 07:52 AM

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Sarah Mellick ’10 at one of the two fitness studios she co-founded in Denver. Photo by Catherine Larsen.

An active lifestyle helped Sarah Mellick ’10 find Muhlenberg: The Colorado native knew she wanted to attend a small college far from home, and her interest in playing lacrosse served to narrow her options. And a continued passion for fitness helped Mellick find a career path she never expected—as the co-owner and founder of two yoga and barre studios in Denver.

After graduation, the media & communication major with a minor in Asian studies held a few jobs in the sports industry before obtaining her masters degree in exercise science. Along the way, she continued to explore ways to stay active in the absence of a team-sports environment. An injury brought her to yoga; a friend brought her to barre: “I dragged my feet going into it. I had all these ideas, like it was just a gentle ballet class. I got my butt completely kicked—it was the hardest workout I’d ever done. That was really cool.”

However, she couldn’t find a place that offered both yoga and barre, and she wasn’t fond of the vibe in the classes she took: “I struggled finding a studio that fit my personality and style, of being someone who doesn’t care about having the newest, fanciest gym bag or whatever. I wanted a place I could go in a T-shirt and shorts and get my yoga or barre in and go home.”

So, she helped build that place. The first Flex Yoga + Barre location opened in September 2015, after Mellick and a former coworker spent nine months scouting a location, hiring instructors and building their brand. Almost exactly three years later, the pair opened another studio in a different Denver neighborhood.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘How did you feel confident enough to start a business?’” Mellick says. “I knew very little about the business side of it, but I knew enough to feel confident that I could go learn more.”

She cites the time- and people-management skills she developed as president of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, as instrumental in her current role, in which she oversees more than 50 employees. And she finds herself regularly drawing upon knowledge she gained in college, from some courses within her major and some courses outside it.

“I don’t think I would have been able to build a business had I not gone to a college like Muhlenberg: It allowed me to experience so many different areas of education I didn’t realize were going to be beneficial to building a business,” Mellick says. “It’s about not letting the idea that you don’t have the answers stop you from moving forward, because nobody has all the answers. It’s a matter of recognizing that and figuring out how to find those answers. I attribute that skill to my Muhlenberg experience.”