Back last summer, after a lovely morning yoga session, Founder & Director Jake went and had a chat with the founder of Sunshine Cafe & Yoga Ella Kite. Based in a historic Cornish building in Penryn the space has been beautifully renovated into a fresh and minimal yoga studio & cafe, Sunshine Cafe & Yoga is not one to be missed!
Jake: So could you tell us a little about yourself, your name, age, profession and where you reside?
Ella: So my name is Ella and I’m 27, I live in Falmouth and I’ve lived here for almost ten years.
J: And what would you say your profession is?
E: I don’t know what to say, I never know what to say when people ask me this. I guess owner of Sunshine cafe and yoga
J: Do you surf? or take part in any water sports ?
E: I do surf, although probably my friends would disagree because it’s never when they want me too. I’ve been surfing probably about as long as I’ve been down here, relatively on and off, I used to be a lot more into it than I probably am now. I do love it, I solely ride a longboard.
J: Where's your favourite place to surf?
E: I’d probably say Godrevy. Just like a one-two foot wave and super clean. I'm not much of a winter surfer I like it nice and sunny. More like Sri Lanka or something would be amazing!
J: Have you been to Sri lanka?
E: Yes I have. I only went for two and half weeks but yeah I loved it, it's so lovely.
J: Did you go to Ceylon sliders?
E: Yes I stayed at Sunshine stories, it's their sister company which is lovely. They do amazing coaching and stuff out there which is very helpful.
J: Before you opened the Sunshine cafe and yoga studio, was there anything you'd wish you'd known?
E: There's was so much I didn't know. I really had no idea what I was doing at all, just sort of going with it. I had moments when I was like, am I even going to be able to do this? It’s too much to try and achieve. I think taking it one step at a time and just knowing that I've got great staff around really helped. Everything sort of just works out how it's supposed to. I think it's gone pretty smoothly. Fingers crossed.
J: Sometimes you just have to go with the flow don't you?
E: Yeh just dive in.
J: You strike me as the sort of person that will just do it and see how it works out.
E: Yeah people have told me I'm a bit mad but. I’d never even worked in a cafe before! I think it's just accepting good advice and having a good team around you and having a vision.
J: Would you have done anything differently?
E: I think the only thing that I would do differently, is probably not put that much pressure on myself to try and do lots of extra yoga qualifications I ended up having to cancel or postpone them. I had in my head the sort of person that I should be to open a yoga cafe but actually it was un-achievable to do it all at once, so I think it would of just reigned in the pressure.
J: What yoga do you practice?
E: I mean I love yin so much so quite often I'll be having a little wiggle and then it just kind of starts going into some more yin type postures and I could just stay in this for ages. I love the little extra challenge that yin gives you and that you are really surrendering to that posture; I found that I gained a lot from yin and had a lot of emotional release from yin so it's an all round favourite.
J: Do you think it's the most challenging?
E: Just in different ways I suppose, for sure it can be super challenging and that's the style of yin I was taught to teach. It’s like playing with that edge of discomfort which I do love and I think I really enjoy crawling out of yin posture and feeling like an old man! There's definitely other types of yoga that I find more challenging just in different ways.
J: What advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue a career in yoga or opening up their own yoga studio?
E: Just one bit of advice... Dont? ha ha. It’s just I remember so many people told me (when I said I wanted to open a cafe) that I was crazy and that some people have done it themselves and just warned me off it completely. I think just go for it, if you really wanna do it, don’t listen to other people, you don't need to listen to me either. I've always been quite headstrong so I think just listen to what you actually want to do and go for it. It's just about finding exactly what you want to do and your own vision. Sounds really cliche, but just stick to your idea. I built this because it was what I wanted as a consumer, generally if you want it, other people will so then it just sort of works.
J: Would you say there is a lot of your personality in the business?
E: I think this is where I want to spend my time even if i didn't own it so…
J: What would you say are the best resources that helped you along the way, could be business advice? Maybe inspiration from books? Or do you think actually travelling was your best resource?
E: I think travelling definitely inspired the aesthetic style and I guess the content of the business. I travelled a lot growing up and the mix of cultures and this is what came out of it. I mean I loved L.A and Bali. Those two are my biggest inspirations.
J: Was L.A was a big inspiration?
E: Yes It’s next level... It's really cool, all this stuff that's alternative over here is just mainstream over there and it's amazing. People think I'm weird for doing this stuff here but it's just everywhere. I lovegoing places where the foods exactly what you want to eat and just really delicious.
J: Did you surf in california?
E: No we were only there for 10 days and I’m shit scared of sharks so I was freaking myself out.
J: Music, what sort of music are you listening to now?
E: Mainly quite chilled stuff.
J: Yoga inspired?
E: I guess a bit, it depends on what mood I'm in. I listen to a lot of country, bit of a rogue choice but when I was younger I used to listen to alot of soul, funk, jazz and stuff and I just really liked a deep male soulful voice. I think that quite a few country singers (more modern ones) have quite deep soulful voices and I think that was my progression during the first lockdown last year. I always used to listen to Radio 2 and got so fed up of hearing the news that I think I just found smooth country FM and then just listened to that non stop. It's so catchy! I love it because it's so upbeat, happy and it's not too intense. It's just super easy listening.
J: Who would you say had the most influence in your life, parent or friend? I got asked the same and I said my dad because he was an architect and I used to watch him for hours just drawing. I think that's what made me pursue a business in design.
E: I’d say my mum is more similar to what I do but she got ill when I was 10 so she was ill for the rest of my life. She passed away 3 years ago, she definitely brought out the artistic side of me and my dads a bit creative. I don’t know its really hard. I guess my parents brought me up travelling all over the place so that's definitely had an effect on my life. They both had me quite late and had done some travelling. I guess I'd say my parents but that's kind of obvious. Both my parents were big skiers and that's been a big part of my life. They both went to pretty crazy places and I was brought up going to crazy places so that's pretty cool.
J: Is there anyone business wise?
E: Nah i've just kind of fallen into the business world. I listen to business podcasts I find those really inspiring.
J: Have you listened to the founder? It's just a set of podcasts by founders of businesses and I recently listened to the lulu lemon one. He actually started Westbeach which you probably know if you have spent time on the slopes.
J: So when people want to find out more about you, where should they look? Do you have an instagram page?
E: It's just @sunshinecafe&yoga we also have a website which is www.sunshinecafeandyoga.co
J: I noticed your bookings are through an external app.
E: Yeh so we use Mindbody so you can download the app and it will come up. Search Sunshine cafe and yoga and it will show our schedule and you can book through there. They are one of the biggest yoga system around the world.
J: I’m guessing the yoga teachers are all self employed, do they rent the space?
E: No we just pay them a flat fee per class, they all self employed, we've got a range of classes which you can also find on the website under our yoga page. A mixture of some flow classes.
We started to make them a bit more niche so we've got a grounded flow on a monday morning which is a nice way to start the week, and then we've got some classes with sound bowls, we've got yin, we've got a sun vinyasa which is a warm class for intermediate yogis. We have a free mediation class on a sunday afternoon and we have a broga class for guys.
We have just started running some other events too, we have a cacao ceremony on saturday and i'm thinking of running them monthly and we are going to do a beginners workshop for yoga and some more specific workshops focused around different chakras, as well as singing and chanting workshops. We’d love to use the studio for live music, maybe film nights, there's a lot of potential with the space. We can do talks, food workshops and health workshops in the cafe as well.
J: What excites you right now about your business ?
E: We couldn't open the yoga studio to start with so we just opened the cafe, it was so exciting when yoga opened as well and I felt really emotional when it finally did, because that was the whole dream for it to be open together. What I love is you can go for a class and then come into the cafe and sit and have food, just somewhere to spend relaxed time. It's exciting, we already have lots of locals who want to spend time here, which is lovely.
I'm excited about the events and workshop possibilities and growing a great community, that is super important to me. I think I've always really craved it; that sense of community. It's really important, people crave that and I want to facilitate that.
J: Do you have any other plans?
E: I'd love to go into retreats at some point as well but I don't know, I'm not sure. I'm just focused on growing, a steady growth. Opening seemed quite quick, so I’m happy being a bit slow now and just growing organically.
J: What sort of food do you do in the cafe?
E: Everything is plant based, we've got a relatively small menu. A few things on our breakfast menu, toast toppings like avocado, beans and mushrooms. We’ve got our sunshine breakfast bowl which is just a big old load of deliciousness that's very popular. A grounding dahl, I love dahl for breakfast and that was really important for me to be able to offer.
For lunch we have salad bowls and soups. We do make changes to the menu every few weeks so. It's all prepped here, all made here, we have juices that are all made fresh here. Lots of nice little cakes, most are made in house. It was quite important for me as much as I like coffee, I can’t really drink it because it just makes me feel mental. It was really important to have a lot of non-caffeine options because I get frustrated when I go somewhere and I can't have anything to drink other than tea.
J: I think you've achieved so much in such a short space of time it feels so complete already, and a lot of businesses don't feel that way when they first open.
E: There's definitely things I still want to do but I've become a bit of a perfectionist, there's always going to be more I want to do with it.
J: Looking around, it's so clean and tidy.
E: Thanks I had a great building team working on it, they were lovely.
J: Do you ever feel like you could do / need someone else? Someone to bounce ideas off?
E: Yeh, because I’ve got the cafe manager she's quite handy to bounce off and the same with a lot of the staff. Iit's nice to have really lovely people work here and I guess similarly minded but everyone brings their own little bit to it which is really nice. I've got plenty of people and a few of my friends are the yoga teachers, so i've got plenty of people to bounce ideas off.
J: Have you had any negative responses or bad feedback?
E: Everyones been really welcoming and we've had so much praise just so many people are happy to see something done with the building. I think that's just the main thing people have said. I need to go the library and look it up because someone told me this used to be the Penryn jail and yeah I think they must have put all the smugglers in here, because when the builders came in they found tunnels down to the river, there's a tunnel that went from the back of the yoga studio to the road and the tunnels still open the other side haha.
I don't know what went on in here but... I did a lot of Sageing when I first moved in haha.
J: Fun last one. What's your perfect sunday?
E: I love sundays, well I’d probably have a little bit of a lie in, I get up pretty early anyway so, ideally it'd be lovely and sunny, sometimes I quite like having a cup of tea in bed and reading. I really like country living haha. Or maybe I would just pop out for a sea swim. I love breakfast on the beach. That would be nice, go down to the Helford, have a swim and take my dog for a walk. Love a long walk, maybe go for some lunch somewhere, just like real chilled, just in nature and yeh soaking up the sun.
A hugh thanks to Ella for giving us an insight into her business. She has a wonderful business and is a true inspirartion for following your dreams.