Holiday Season Inspires Selfless Selling

iStock_000006730803XSmallTwo Michigan businesses strive to do good while aiming to do well, too.

“We get calls every day from students who want to keep doing yoga but who can no longer afford to pay for classes,” says Steve Feldman, co-owner of the Yoga Shelter chain of yoga studios in metro Detroit. “It’s one of the biggest reasons that people stop coming to class — but ironically, when finances are tight, and other problems arise because of it, that’s when you need the mind-body-spirit focus of yoga the most.”  With a 15% unemployment rate in the state of Michigan, everyone knows someone who has been hit hard by the economic downturn. Right now, with a failing automotive sector that was the bread-and-butter of the local economy, Michigan is the worst state in the nation as far as employment and economic growth.

“I can’t imagine how horrible it must feel for a bride who has looked forward to her wedding day for her entire life, to have to cut corners on planning her dream day,” says Nadica Ristivojevich, owner of Maria’s Bridal Couture, a high-end bridal boutique in West Bloomfield, Mich. “The wedding dress is typically the largest single cost — so I’d like to help brides who need it achieve their dream wedding.”

Last year, approximately 56,080 weddings took place in the state of Michigan, costing an average of $25,300 per event, with the bridal gown as the single largest expenditure for most brides.

Feldman and Ristivojevich have both created opportunities in their businesses this month to help those who need it. Yoga Shelter is raffling off four yoga memberships, thanks to a Yoga for Everyone Fund created to help those who can’t afford yoga get to class. Maria’s Bridal Couture is sponsoring an After-Christmas Sample Sale, where it will sell hundreds of bridal gowns for $299-799 — and raffle off 5 gowns to unemployed brides.

The Sample Sale will take place Dec. 26-27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., in Orchard Mall; gowns by the following designers will be for sale: Symphony Bridal, Marisa, Bridal Couture, Cymbeline Paris and Watters & Watters.

Yoga Shelter, which has studios in West Bloomfield, Birmingham, Royal Oak and Grosse Pointe, will raffle off 2 24-class series and 2 36-class series. Raffle ticket holders can enter to win or can simply donate their raffle ticket to someone in need. Yoga Shelter maintains a confidential list of individuals who have requested assistance.

“It is part of our defining philosophy to help those who need it most,” says Yoga Shelter founder and co-owner Eric Paskel. “That’s why it was imperative for us to find a way to give free yoga to empower people to ride the wave of challenge we’re all facing.”

The Yoga Shelter Raffle will take place on December 31st.  Both initiatives are indicative of a trend: businesses that make caring about the greater community part of their business model. In this hard-pressed holiday season, such initiatives are even more significant.  While the Yoga Shelter has already raised more than $1,400 by selling $5 raffle tickets, it won’t make any money on this initiative.  It is truly part of the Yoga Shelter philosophy to help others, says Feldman.  And Ristivojevich also won’t capitalize on this giveaway. “It’s truly about helping brides,” she says.  But both efforts build good karma in the community.

“I’m so proud of our community, for recognizing this need and doing something about it,” says Yoga Shelter’s Feldman. “We call this place the Shelter because it truly is a safe haven for so many people facing so many challenges.”

For more information or to take part in either initiative, contact Yoga Shelter ( at 248-538-0200 or Maria’s Bridal Couture ( at 248-539-3090.

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