After finishing her Master’s Degree in Finance at the University of British Columbia, Nancy Lin teamed up with her friend, Julia Zu, who was working in the financial industry to start Sunberry Fitness in Richmond, British Columbia. Sunberry Fitness is a women-only fitness centre specializing in fun fitness classes in a safe and supportive environment.
In January 2016, Nancy and Julia received an unexpected burst of media attention from places like CBC, Buzzfeed, Yoga Australia, Huffington Post, and were talked about widely across social media around the world. So what was it that caught the media’s attention? A charity event for Bandaids for Bunnies, which consisted of a yoga class featuring an unusual guest, bunnies!
Bunny yoga is a flow/yin yoga class where ten bunnies roam freely around the room. Flow and yin yoga are gentler yoga styles that involve slower movements which prevents the bunnies from getting scared or stepped on by the yogis. The classes were put together to support Bandaids for Bunnies, a local organization that helps former pet rabbits that were abandoned by their owners.
The idea for the unique fundraiser came from one of Sunberry Fitness’s customers who posted a message on their Facebook wall about a similar class that the Vancouver Small Animal Rescue held earlier in 2015. “She meant it as a joke, but we thought it was a fabulous idea,” Nancy shared. “The customer’s sister volunteers at Bandaids for Bunnies, so she put us in touch.”
Although bunny yoga isn’t something you will find anywhere, Nancy and Julia never expected to receive so much attention and buzz around the initiative. “We were expecting some media attention, but never to this extent,” Nancy explained. The pair thought that maybe some of the local press would pick up the story but were thrilled that with the international coverage it received, the event ended up creating so much awareness and media coverage for Bandaid for Bunnies. “They [Bandaids for Bunnies] have told us that other rabbit shelters across Canada have also expressed interest in hosting bunny yoga fundraisers in the future.”
Through this experience with partnering with a local charity, the pair learned that it’s important to make sure that the charity you are looking to work with is open to customizing the event so both your business and the charity is showcased together, in a way that meets both your goals.
The success of this local initiative brought Nancy and Julia to the finals of the Small Business BC Awards in the Best Online Marketing award category earlier this year where five finalists were invited to present to a panel of judges who are experts in the online marketing industry. “We were really surprised to make it to the finals, because there were many online marketing companies that entered the competition,” Nancy explained. “In fact, we got selected over eight online marketing companies to be in the finals.” Although Sunberry Fitness didn’t bring home the award, they describe the competition process a very good learning experience. “We learned about the different metrics that you can use to track marketing success and we had the opportunity to really develop our presentation techniques,” Nancy explained.
Due to the success of these events, Nancy & Julia have decided to try and host classes every couple of months in support of Bandaids for Bunnies, you can stay tuned for events and future classes at Sunberry Fitness here.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada