YogaBug Real Estate was born out of a naturally occurring, social experiment called, My Life. When I started selling real estate I lived outside of the city. I spent long days at the office and the yoga studio in Portland and became a regular at the downtown Whole Foods. Countless times, I would be standing in the express checkout line looking at the kombucha and KIND bars and someone would ask me what I was up to that day. When I would say that I just taught a yoga class, the person would light up, download their life story, share their experience with or desire to do yoga and disclose their health problems to me - a complete stranger.
When I said that I just finished showing houses or taking a new listing, almost always the conversation ended quickly. The difference in response was dramatic. As I contemplated this ongoing experience, I realized that I felt like I was living in two different worlds daily. I felt disjointed in the way others perceived me. Yet I was the same person, living by the same principles in both real estate and yoga. This was the beginning of YogaBug Real Estate.
Bringing my two passions together was awkward, exciting, inspiring and terrifying. Despite Portland’s reputation for embracing the weird or different, I knew I was doing something very different and taking a risk. I’ve never been one to shy away from the uncomfortable for the better or the worse. My mother can attest to that. I am also the creative type. To top it off, being a perpetual double major student was my history so in hind sight, combing real estate and yoga was destiny for me.
When I decided to take the leap, I spoke with my Principal Broker and he gave me the book The Brand Gap to read. I had already had a sense of the purpose and feel of my brand. But I needed a name. My yoga business was named YogaBug but I couldn’t use that! I had a powwow with my title company rep and shared my YogaBug name idea. He said “Sounds great! It is unique, catchy, fun.” I am 5’1” with brown curly hair and sometimes called adorable to my dismay. When I chose YogaBug to describe my business I figured that I might as well embrace the adorableness and let go of the hope of being blonde with long legs. YogaBug it was!
Now I needed a logo and all I could see was a ladybug. Ladybugs are symbols of environmentally friendly-mindful practices and magical in some way. They are stewards of our environment as they live their lives and this resonated with my mission. My husband who is a designer created a ladybug logo that had some style and I loved it.
As much as I loved it I also felt insecure about it. How would it translate in the world of real estate? A couple of years after choosing the ladybug logo, my close friend said to me, “Pam I just don’t get the bug. What does it have to do with real estate?” Her comment made me pause but in the end I realized that I didn’t care whether she got it or not. The image made me smile and feel good and that was what mattered. It was representative of who I am in some way and ultimately that is what I am selling.
The last formative piece of YogaBug was creating a platform to bring people in the yoga/wellness community together in my real estate space. The result of another brainstorming session was that YogaBug would offer a free bi-monthly wellness series to the community. I started off with a January detox and invited my friend who was a new naturopath to present. I did all of the marketing for her and she would show up, offer something of value to the community and get business from it. I could announce the series in my yoga classes so students became naturally aware that I was a Realtor and would be bringing clients and new people into my real estate space. The brand will be all about offering something of value to others-service.
As I rolled out the brand, the reactions varied greatly from “What?” to “I love it!” to “Well, that’s different?” The Brand Gap said something to the effect that a brand should evoke an emotional response and the greater emotion evoked the more memorable the brand. Well I appeared to be nailing that one. When one of my friends started calling me YogaBug, I knew that the identity was taking hold. Surprisingly, I witnessed some of the greatest judgement and support from fellow agents.
On more than one occasion, I was holding an open house and overheard snarky remarks from other agents about my YogaBug signs. I couldn’t help but take it personally even though I knew that my difference evoked fear in them and that was where those comments came from. It takes a lot of energy to try to be someone I am not and it takes a lot of bravery to expose who I am. I was exposing who I was. On the other hand, I have spoken to agents on the phone and they have said, “I would LOVE to work with a YogaBug.” After several years, I have become YogaBug to the Portland real estate community.
Branding myself as YogaBug has been about facing my fears, self-limitations and judgements head on. My fear of rejection repeatedly rears its head to this day although much less. I knew that not everyone would want to work with a YogaBug. For quite a while, I almost muffled my voice when I stated I was Pam Blair of YogaBug Real Estate. The last 5 years have been about becoming really clear about who I want to work with- like-minded people- and staying true to that.
It is not about only working with yogis and has in many ways been about me facing my own judgements about others and who I think they are. A few years ago, I picked up a 70 some year old executive client at the airport to show him a luxury condominium. We started chatting about YogaBug- a conversation I would have avoided assuming he couldn’t relate to it. He shared with me how he meditated for years and found it helpful. I was the judger that day.
I found that my greatest insecurity was revealing myself as YogaBug to my higher-end clients at the initial contact for the fear of not appearing professional enough. I had a frank conversation with one of these clients who has become a very good friend and asked her if she found me on the internet as YogaBug would she have worked with me. She was referred to me by my brokerage. She shared that she may not have reached out to me but offered some insights on how to add to my logo/brand to change that and I made those changes.
All the transformative micro-moments of YogaBug came to a head last year when Inman News found YogaBug. They published an article on my experience and invited me to speak about “The Marketing that is Best Reaching Buyers and Sellers” with a stellar group of agents at Inman Connect SF. That experience was the culmination of accepting my decision to brand myself and lay it all out there. As I stood in front of 1,200 of the best and brightest in the industry, I was empowered to own, share and celebrate what I had created and manifest more greatness from that ownership. As a result, YogaBug has continued to evolve and thrive.
As with any big growth experience, there were so many lessons and insights along the way.
~ I had to repeatedly step out of my comfort zone to grow and not wait to read about it or be told what to do. A wise teacher once said, “The instructions for thinking outside of the box are on the outside of the box.”
~Branding is not for everyone but authenticity is. The only reason my brand works is because it is authentic. It wasn’t as much about creating something that did not exist but more about acknowledging what already existed and daring to define it and live it.
~Walking my talk and embodying the lifestyle of those I want to work with creates profound results both personally and professionally.
~The road less traveled can be lonely at times but incredibly rewarding.
~Continually reaching out to others that I respect for guidance has changed my business.
~This process has been a daily evolution and I need to be open to that process and continuous change.
Branding myself and continually refining my brand has made my business sustainable because it has motivated, challenged and inspired me. It has connected me to my community and the world in a way that I could not have imaged. Yoga and real estate are inclusive of all ages, races, income levels and ideologies. Both are about transforming lives and so is YogaBug. YogaBug has certainly transformed my life.
To connect with Pam Blair visit her at http://www.yogabugrealestate.com/