Editor’s Note: This story is part of the 50 Businesses, 50 Solutions series that highlights how business leaders across the state, from mom and pop shops to large corporations are adapting to the challenges and disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus.
ChildLight Education Company is a rare pandemic success story. Before coronavirus, the business ran about 80 in-person teacher trainings for yoga and mindfulness, both at its Dover studio and in partner studios nationwide. Since April, however, ChildLight has switched to online trainings. Since the trainings are not limited by a physical space, people anywhere can attend and co-owner Megan Morris says the average class size has doubled and business is better than ever.
“It’s been overwhelmingly successful,” said Morris, who works with co-owner Sally Delisle.
Morris and Delisle purchased the company in October, although both had already worked for the business. At the time, Morris thought of ChildLight as a local business with a national reach, since about 85% of revenue came from teacher trainings, many of which took place outside of Dover. Now, Morris thinks of it as a national business, with an international flair. Since the pandemic, people from Asia and the Middle East have signed up for classes.
Broadening their pool of potential clients has allowed the business to expand. ChildLight will conduct roughly the same amount of training this year as it did in 2019 — about 80 — but with the number of participants up and the price of training the same, Morris expects revenue from private trainings to be higher than it was in 2019.
Morris and Delisle had toyed with the idea of offering virtual teacher trainings before the pandemic, but they worried that some of the value of face-to-face interaction would be lost. In April, they looked at their calendar and realized that they needed to either cancel trainings, or switch to virtual.
“We never really took the leap to online until we had to,” Morris said. The trainers were able to adjust their curriculums and feedback was very positive. After that, Morris and Delisle were confident in their virtual trainings.
“Having the space to be creative and see what was possible for our future was a blessing,” Morris said. “It's what allowed us to see the big picture in a different way.”
ChildLight offers certification through the Yoga Alliance, a trade organization that doesn’t allow for virtual trainings, which made an exception through September because of the pandemic. While Morris expects to return to some in-person classes, she believes online classes will be a big part of the business during and after the pandemic.
“There’s still so much value in being together in person, but it will always be part of our curriculum that people have the option to learn online,” Morris said.
In addition to offering public trainings, ChildLight also runs continuing education for teachers. That side of the business has decreased significantly, even though some of those classes moved online. Because of that decrease, Morris expects overall revenue to be consistent with 2019.
“That’s what is keeping us around the same range,” she said. “We’re adding more public trainings, but the private trainings are much lower.”
ChildLight’s participation in online yoga classes for kids has also decreased. Kids’ short attention spans, parents overwhelmed with online obligations and competition from free online yoga are all at play, she said.
Morris has some reservations celebrating her success when many other New Hampshire businesses are suffering. “That's the part that's hard for me to reconcile,” she says.
In turn, she’s tried to give back, supporting other local businesses and helping to promote causes like Yoga In Action, a New Hampshire non-profit.
At the same time, Morris is focused on continuing to grow ChildLight Educational Company, taking advantage of a newly unlocked pool of potential customers.
“I know this has been earned,” she said. “This is hard work paying off.”
These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org. From sole proprietorships to large corporations, we want to hear from all New Hampshire business leaders who’ve found solutions to their Covid related challenges. Tell us your story here. A reporter may follow up for a future article in this series.
Pictured: The Child Light Education Company team, pre-pandemic, and Megan Morris and Sally Delisle, with Morris’ daughter Grace.