Entrepreneur and mother of three, Heidi Kristoffer, created a yoga app to support future parents. Here are your best tips for running a business.
Although Heidi Kristoffer grew up in prosperous Greenwich, Connecticut, she was raised by a mother who was “very frugal”. She would use coupons, buy items for sale, and Kristoffer would have to get a job if she wanted to have access to a credit card. She started to babysit at a young age, worked in retail jobs since she started driving and also worked professionally. At the same time, she put her nose to the ground academically, attending the musical theater program at Cornell University and later the British American Drama Academy (BADA) in London.
“When I graduated, I came to New York with hopes and dreams of being a Broadway actress,” recalls Kristoffer. But every manager and agent she met recommended that she do TV. Although it wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, Kristoffer went on auditions and ended up starring in a soap opera for 10 years. “I learned very quickly how to do things well under pressure on the screen and I was very comfortable talking on the screen,” says Kristoffer.
The young actress also devoted herself to a regular exercise routine at the gym. But in 2007, in the midst of an especially cold winter in New York City, she went to a yoga studio that was closer to her apartment in an effort to cut travel time. “I’m in the middle of this class, I’m sweating, I’m exhausted and I’m exuberantly happy,” recalls Kristoffer.
Soon after, her acting career took a toxic and exhausting turn. “I got to the point where the prevailing message was, ‘You are never enough. You are never thin enough, fat enough, short enough, tall enough, handsome enough, ugly enough,'” she says. “It is rejection every day.”
But in yoga, she was learning “to remember that we are enough just the way we are,” says Kristoffer. “The universe created you to be perfect, and you are, and your job is to remember that.” It was a revolutionary notion – and one that inspired Kristoffer to leave acting and pursue yoga full time in 2012. “Yoga saved me on all levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually,” she notes. “It changed my life forever and changed the path of my life.”
Still, Kristoffer yearned for a more financially sound career than full-time yoga teaching could afford. She started writing a blog and creating videos every week for SHAPE magazine. She was hired by Microsoft to create, write and produce a yoga encyclopedia. And after welcoming the twins in 2015, she gave classes on live streaming on various apps.
A year and a half ago, she was inspired to create her own yoga app: CrossFlow Yoga. “I had a deep desire to share therapeutic yoga, but it was not sexy and it was not clickbaity,” says Kristoffer.
She wanted to create an application that would also be useful for busy parents. “I try to offer something to most people in the app, no matter what their skill level is,” notes Kristoffer. “And I want you to get the most out of your time, because we are all hungry for time, and by combining the yoga modalities, you get more in less time, but you leave feeling the same.”
The app offers a variety of yoga-based exercises and routines – such as a faster Vinyasa CrossFlowV and a slower sleep class called CrossFlowZ – designed to suit any mood and energy level, as well as tutorials, workshops, breathing exercises and guided meditations . There are also prenatal yoga classes for those who are pregnant.
The instructor was also motivated by her own maternity journey. “Becoming a mother informed my need to create something on my own and not be at the mercy of other people’s whims,” she explains. “I needed to be in control of what I was doing, in control of my time, in control of my content.”
What Kristoffer couldn’t control with group classes, she did with her app. The now mother of three could record and edit a ton of videos at once and create a schedule for herself based on her children’s school schedule. “They deserve my full and total attention when I can give them, just as my app deserves my full attention when I can give it,” she explains.
Here, the businesswoman shares her best tips for building a business that reflects her values and passing on this valuable lesson to her children.
Be willing to put in work
Kristoffer found that, in acting, “work creates work”. So, when she switched from acting to yoga, she struggled to earn more and get better times in class. And when SHAPE came to her to do a yoga series, it took only one attempt to get it right. “They offered me a weekly blog before yoga was part of their content,” she says.
The lesson: “Just being able to deliver continuously because of a hard work ethic and willingness to do the job has always paid off,” said Kristoffer.
Prepare for the unexpected
The yoga businesswoman remembers spending time in her stepfather’s hedge fund after college, in order to save for an emergency fund that would cover her for six months. Now, she cannot recommend enough the importance of “being prepared for the unexpected”, creating a financial savings.
Kristoffer notes, “This will allow you to continue to move forward and in the direction you want, rather than small obstacles that unbalance you.”
Teach children the value of work
Kristoffer says it is important for her that her children, who are now 3 and 5 years old, work hard and learn how to earn what they want. She intends to teach them this lesson from a very young age. “I show them by example that Mom and Dad go to work every day and work hard to have the life we live,” she says.
It is also important for a mother of three that her twin daughters “know their own worth, feel that they can support themselves with their own hands or with their own hands,” she says. “It is adorable and incredible and special and beautiful that they have each other to support each other. But it is also very important that they understand that they don’t need anyone except themselves.”