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Community Highlights: Meet Niela Phoenix of BIOMA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Niela Phoenix.

Hi Niela, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
BIOMA is owned by both me and my husband. Many years ago we a had dream to build a dojo. Ebon (my husband) had been practicing martial arts for over 30 years and retired from teaching at Baltimore City Public Schools. After several years of planning, funding, and building, BIOMA finally developed into an exclusive Dojo, Yoga Studio, and Art studio quietly located in Mt. Washington. I teach Art and Yoga and we also have like-minded folks rent the space for events within our general bailiwick such as meditation courses, wrestling, etc.

From Sip and Paints to kids arts and crafts my love of art and connecting with students to fine-tune their craft or to just have fun is rewarding. Ebon’s various martial arts and personal training have been his life’s work culminated to share with others. Yoga at BIOMA is also for all bodies wherever they are and my approach is simply finding balance within yourself and your connection to the universe.

Another impetus for creating BIOMA was homeschooling our son. We thought BIOMA could also support a more well-rounded education. From art to gym to discipline, mindfulness, and even STEAM attributes in our practice at BIOMA, Kids get to open, engage and explore centers in the mind and body.

Ebon holds a Master’s in Education, a certification in personal training, and many martial belts in various martial disciplines. I have a master’s in Business and am a 500 certified Yoga Instructor. We are a team and love doing this work and touching lives.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Geez, the road has been bumpy! Funding the building project took several years. Then we had several awful contractors. Not to go into too much detail but the contract delayed us by years. Getting zoning for our business was another hiccup and understanding all the insurances, permits, regulations city fees, and everything else that goes with opening a business.

We opened in February 2020, I month before COVID hit. We opened and then closed 1 month later. This was not good for momentum. Almost 2 years later we still struggle with COVID mandates, variants, implantation of safety protocols, and such. Fortunately, we are financially healthy and have no intention of going anywhere due to COVID.

Marketing has been a real challenge too. Some of it is trial and error. You hope you’re investing in the right strategy but soon realize what does and does not work. I’ve found that relationships are what’s most important. Word of mouth is number one! Having a good google footprint and social media are a close second.

As you know, we’re big fans of BIOMA. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
BIOMA- Baltimore Institute of Martial Arts is dedicated to the study of martial arts and the promotion of the fine arts through a variety of diverse programs. Programs include training in traditional disciplines as well as competitive and modern combative.

BIOMA lso offers youth programs after school that will reinforce STEAM concepts, teach anti-bullying strategies, promotes fitness and self-defense skills.

BIOMA also recognizes the relationship between martial arts and fine art, and its role in the cultivation of expression, character, and spirit. This relationship has remained strong throughout history in many cultures. To this end classes in both Yoga and Art are available.

BIOMA offers the finest instruction with dedicated, experienced, and professional staff.

What sets us apart? We have diversity in our instructors and clients. DEI is important to BIOMA and we ensure that we live meaningfully in this space. We are also husband and wife minority-owned. We are positioned competitively with pricing and have a strong sense of family in our engagement. www.biomaonline.com.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
Don’t give up! There were a few times we didn’t think all the hassle was worth it. I’m glad we had each other when times got sticky or morale was low.

Save your money! We found that banks and SBA loans and people who were supposed to help start-up businesses don’t really help start-up businesses even if you have great credit. At times, we felt discriminated against in our search for funding. Ultimately, we invested our own money into our business.

Beware the downers! I kept my circle very tight during the development of BIOMA because I did not want to be influenced by naysayers.

Don’t be rigid! I promise your plan is not going to happen as you planned so don’t be hard on yourself. Flow with the changes. Most of the things that did not go according to plan actually worked out for the best.

Pricing:

  • Martial Arts Mat Fee $15
  • Yoga Class $15 in person $10 online
  • Personal Training 30 mins $25
  • After School Martial Arts $25 session
  • Monthly (Not incl art) $85 unlimited visits

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Terrance Ragland

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