Black Business Month: Kimberlee Morrison, Founder of KYM Media & Love Revolution Yoga
Our last profile piece to celebrate National Black Owned Business Month is a unique story of a writer and content strategist that took her years of experience and expanded into a new industry.
Kimberlee Morrison, Founder of KYM Media & Love Revolution Yoga has been writing stories for and about businesses for over 20 years. Kimberlee has written for digital upstarts to national magazines and specializes in writing copy for newsletters, blogs, websites, and books. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, CMO.com, Business Insider, MSNBC, TIME, and AdWeek.
We had the chance to sit down with Kimberlee and learn how her knowledge of content and marketing helped her to create a passion into a business.
Hi Kimberlee, thanks for chatting with us today. Tell us about how you got into the content industry.
I cut my teeth in digital media and content marketing as an editor for a business blog network where I managed freelancers, wrote a dozen articles per week, and managed social media channels. In addition to developing an interest in all things business, I’ve been covering and participating in digital and social media as it grew from nascence to ubiquity.
As a digital content editor for Entrepreneur media, I honed my focus on leadership, marketing and business growth topics. And as a columnist for AdWeek, I wrote hundreds of articles about security, technology, social media, and influence.
In other words, I’ve been writing about business and technology since the birth of social media marketing and new information technology age.
In addition to being a prolific business technology writer, I also co-authored and edited The Freedom Writers’ Diary (Doubleday 20th Anniversary Reprint 2019), a collection of aspirational stories, a New York Times Bestseller, and the basis for the Paramount feature film “Freedom Writers.”
You’ve accomplished so much! Give us some insight into why you changed directions and explain how your experience with content marketing has helped you create your new yoga business.
This is a great question! So, in my “off-the-mat” life, I’m a writer and content strategist, and I’ve been doing that for more than 20 years. The business that I founded for that is KYM Media. I’ve been a storyteller for much longer than my professional experience. Sometimes I use anecdotes from my own occurrences to contextualize a principle of yoga; I’ve led workshops about yoga myths and even themed entire classes around specific myths. For example: the story of Hanuman (Monkey King) can teach us about friendship, devotion, and making a leap of faith.
I don’t think it’s possible to build an online business without the use of at least a little content marketing and I use storytelling in my content marketing much the same way I do in my live (online and virtual) studio classes. When I decided to start a virtual yoga studio, I knew the first step was building a list to send people updates, but also to start validating the product-market-fit (did people want what I had to offer?). I’ve built many websites and things of that nature before, so I already had hosting, and had both the skills and experiences to know there were some preliminary things to set up first:
- I had to create a landing page announcing that I was starting a Love Revolution, with an invitation to subscribe for updates
- I needed an email marketing system and integrate that system into my website for managing my subscriber list
- I needed branded FB and IG accounts: So, I created a @loverevolutionyoga Facebook page, and converted my IG to a creator’s account (which enables me to see content performance metrics)
Once I had the basic infrastructure in place, I announced my new online studio on my social networks, where I’m connected to friends, family, yoga teacher colleagues, and students I’ve had over the years. I send messages directly to people who had been telling me for years that they wished they could practice with me and committed to posting at least one update on Instagram per week.
Then I got to work pre-recording my first few videos to seed my online studio content library. Once I had five videos, I did a 30-day pre-launch promotion, offering $5 off of the subscription price for anyone who became a subscribing member to the studio before I made it public. Seeing those first subscribers come in was so exciting! But I had already validated that people were interested because many had already signed up for my email updates; seeing that people were willing to subscribe became even further validation.
With my list growing, my business model validated, and a few subscribers, Love Revolution Yoga launched on the first of July. I made the announcement by email and through my social channels. Right now, the community is small but growing. I host live classes every Saturday, and I still try to post a minimum of once a week, usually something relevant to the class theme for the week.
I’m sure I could have found information about how to do all of these things, but I think my experience as a content marketer helped me know which steps came first and understand that the email subscriber list was a critical part of building the Love Revolution Yoga community. The one caveat I’ll offer for anyone hoping to build an online community is to focus on creating authentic content, be consistent, and expect growth to be slow and steady. On Instagram especially, there’s a lot of pressure to “perform” and there are lots of prolific influencers with brand sponsorships and beautiful setups. My set up is pretty basic and didn’t cost much; my following is modest but they’re super engaged and I am grateful for every single one of them.
Give us a little background on how you started your business and what services that you excel at:
The pandemic lockdown was a shock to the system. I went from teaching regular weekly studio yoga classes, to being cut off from my yoga community. I taught a couple free classes, and immediately realized that was not going to be sustainable. How would I continue to teach and reach my community? Creating an online studio seemed the best option.
Love Revolution Yoga (http://loverevolution.yoga) was like a revelation. It’s a theme that had come up in previous classes, and I decided to base my entire yoga studio offering around this idea of radical self-love. The way I see it, love is the ultimate revolution against the oppressive systems of patriarchy, capitalism and white supremacy — but we have to start with learning to love ourselves before we can learn to love anyone else. For me, the Love Revolution is the answer to so much of the injustices in the world and the process of creating this online studio, during a pandemic and racial unrest gave me more clarity on how yoga can be a practice for social justice as well.
Right now, Love Revolution Yoga is in the very early stages of development, but I’m excited to see where it goes! I’m building a library of yoga classes and meditations, and I even have a beginner’s yoga course in the works. I recently decided to focus primarily on the live classes because they feel most authentic and in alignment with my goal of building community. I don’t require it, but I encourage students to attend live classes with their cameras on because it’s the best way to recreate the communal space in this new virtual reality. Having cameras on helps build that sense of community; it also enables me to see my students and give them feedback in the moment. This is a game-changer for the virtual yoga experience which has relied heavily on pre-recorded classes.
My talent is for storytelling and empowering people to love themselves and live in the fullness of their truth. While my classes are often intense and challenging (I love a good sweaty, core strengthening practice), I offer lots of options and a judgement-free space for students to discover what expression of the poses works for them. In fact, my classes aren’t really about the movement at all, they’re more about students using their yoga mat as a laboratory for self-discovery and self-mastery. So, I usually tell some kind of story at the beginning of class to introduce a concept for students to explore as they move through their practice. How we show up on our mats is how we show up in life, so being aware of how we react to stress, frustration, and other challenges is a great way to build resilience for our off-the-mat lives.
I also believe I’m a really good coach, a role I see as helping people rediscover their true, capital “S” Self, which is pure consciousness and love. I go a step further and empowering people to actualize the internal Self in the world by being a living embodiment of love and compassion. It’s a very heart-centered way to love, but to me, it’s the best way to live.
What has been challenging owning your own business?
I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years as a freelance writer. So, I’m used to marketing and selling and all of that. With the online yoga studio, the biggest initial challenge was figuring out the technology, and being more intentional about building an online community, the way I was about building community in physical spaces. Part of the reason I decided to focus on live classes is because I was completely uninspired by the pre-recorded classes and wanted to continue building my library of classes. I can’t really neglect pre-recorded classes altogether, but at least for now, live classes are the most authentic way for me to create content for my students.
What have you found most rewarding about owning your own business?
The most rewarding part of this business of teaching yoga is watching people grow and transform and become more and more who they want to be. I had students who were practicing with me for the last 5 years; we’ve all grown together and it’s a pretty amazing experience. The difference for me right now is that in studios I had to conform to the style and culture established by someone else. With Love Revolution Yoga, I get to co-create the culture with my students, and since the whole thing is so new, it’s another journey of growth and transformation that my students and I get to experience together.
What is something that you are passionate about in the community?
I’m most passionate about people really showing up for themselves. To me, this is the first step in creating a world where we can all live free, happy, and without fear. There are so many external distractions telling us who we could and should be. I want people to look within their own hearts for their truth and manifest that truth in the world. Our society does not encourage this kind of authenticity, which is exactly why the Love Revolution is all about connecting people to their hearts so they can live big, bold, and victorious lives.
Thanks for chatting with us, Kimberlee. If you want to connect with Kimberlee you can find her on all of her pages below: