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A Community Space: Caitlyn Sheff and The Coterie Wellness Studio

Photos provided by Caitlyn Sheff

In the Wesley Heights neighborhood on the west side of uptown Charlotte, you’ll find The Coterie Wellness Studio, a startup small business connecting the community to accessible yoga.

Caitlyn Sheff, the studio’s owner, opened The Coterie in the first weeks of 2023, fulfilling a commitment to herself of becoming a small business owner while bringing her love and passion for yoga closer to home in Charlotte.

Sheff started her career in the corporate retail world but fell in love with yoga, and she made the decision to pivot and follow that passion after more than a decade working in retail. She became a full-time yoga instructor, and in 2021 committed to opening her own yoga studio following the closing of the studio she had been working at.

“I really got bit by the yoga bug,” says Sheff. “I knew this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. It felt right. It just all seemed to click for me. It felt like a more purposeful existence. After experiencing some difficult studio closures as a full-time teacher, I just made a commitment that the next yoga studio I worked for was going to be mine.”

For Sheff, venturing into entrepreneurship wasn’t entirely unfamiliar. Her father owned his own veterinary clinic, and Sheff got the chance to see firsthand how he managed caring for animals while also managing the books and running a small business.

Years later she became a small business owner herself, turning an old plumbing warehouse into a yoga studio. But as Sheff sought out capital for the renovations needed to make her entrepreneurial dream a reality, she was met with some holdup in finding a startup loan. “Accessing capital was frustrating,” says Sheff. “I received a ‘no’ because somewhere had hit their quota on fitness studios or didn’t offer loans for construction. That was extra frustrating because those were some of the questions asked in the process I went through.”

Working with a small business consultant, Sheff was connected to Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF) to access the capital needed. Sheff worked with the CSBDF team throughout the loan process to make sure she was application ready, and she received a loan from CSBDF to upfit the interior of The Coterie. “CSBDF was super helpful throughout the loan process in offering support,” Sheff said. “I really did feel like we were a team going through the process. We had phone calls. We had Google meets. We addressed any holes in my loan application together.”

With the assistance from CSBDF, Sheff opened The Coterie in January of 2023 to be a place of community for the neighborhood. Affordable rates are a staple of the new studio, with Sheff even offering a sliding pay scale to allow studio members who are able to pay higher rates to support access to the studio for everyone in the community who wants to come.

“Growing the studio means becoming more deeply embedded in the community,” says Sheff. “It’s so important to know the face behind the business. I’m so glad that I was able to open something and be present in it, and it was really awesome to work with the Carolina Small Business Development Fund team to make that a reality. They have done so much in helping us start this community space.”


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