What it Means to be Female & Veteran Owned
Suzie Mills grandmother served during WWII, and Suzie grew up hearing many stories about how proud her grandmother was to be in the military. Wishing to follow in her footsteps and serve her country, too, Suzie joined the Air Force in 2004. Suzie’s unit was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and the experience took a toll on her nervous system. Upon returning my previous gym workouts just weren’t providing the relief they once did and Suzie finally felt at home in a yoga class. From there she never looked back.
“Veterans and military families deal with host of unique challenges, but one of challenge I can relate to on a deep level is the a need for community. With deployment, or a change of station, it’s hard to find a sense of home. I dealt with profound feelings of loneliness when I deployed. Yoga gave me the tools I needed to process and move through stress in a healthier way. When I completed active duty in 2012, I wanted to share healing through yoga with other women and with the military community,” shared Suzie. After returning from Afghanistan, Suzie opened a yoga studio in her basement for others to find what she was also searching for – a place to call home.
“The classes filled quickly; soon my basement couldn’t handle it! I needed a physical location,” Suzie shares. In 2013 opened up her first brick and mortar location in the Kingstowne, across the street from Fort Belvoir. Over the last 5 years the studio became a beacon of community and connection for military families in the area, and over half of HSY’s staff have a personal military connection. Throughout this time the business itself also grew to gross over a million dollars a year annually.
“Being a female veteran business owner, who grew this thing from my basement to now three locations with more on the horizon, is incredibly gratifying! Also it fills me with a tremendous sense of duty. Since the beginning I wanted my business to be of service to the community but I am continually humbled by just how big of an impact Honest Soul Yoga has made – it’s more than I could have expected,” admits Suzie. She continued,”Honest Soul Yoga has become a safe space where people are invited to let their guard down, and truly examine how Yoga can help their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I’m so grateful for it all, and truthfully our expansion is overdue – there are so many people out there who need what we have to offer. Recently I took on a business partner, Julia Lopez, who is also a yoga teacher and has been a long-time collaborator with HSY. Together we have big plans for the future. Even though it’s been 5 years, I feel like we’re just getting started!”
Honest Soul Yoga opened its second location in Fairfax County at 4804 Old Keene Mill Road in West Springfield. A third location located in Falls Church is scheduled to open before the new year. The company has plans to expand to additional locations in 2019. In addition to full weekly schedules at all HSY locations, Honest Soul Yoga also runs weekly yoga classes through the USO on Fort Belvoir, and supports USO-Metro through annual giving events.