To start the new year/decade (!) off on the right note, we sit down with Tanya Maria Aguila, aka the girlboss behind ONELIFE, the best-in-class pilates studios in town. We find her positivity so inspiring as she takes us behind the scenes of her entrepreneurial journey... Maybe 2020 will be the year we'll finally give pilates a try!
How did the idea of starting a pilates studio come about?
I jumped into my corporate career fresh out of college when I was just 20 years old and never looked back since. In my last three years in that company, I found myself neglecting my overall health—mental, physical, spiritual, and social—and so I took action.
I took time for self-care and it was a long process. When I found myself renewed and feeling my best again, that’s when I decided I wanted to share and to motivate others to go and give some time and care back to themselves. When I found myself facing my 10th year working, I realized that I wanted to take a sabbatical from work and I did. During my sabbatical, that’s when I took my Yoga teacher training and the rest was history. I first started off teaching Yoga on the side and when I realized that I was creating an impact, one that I can really see, in my students’ lives, that made me realize that maybe it is indeed time for me to make a career shift. I realized that I wanted to keep creating a different kind of impact to the people around me in the next chapter of my life and career.
(Tanya wears a top by Our Second Nature)
What was a particularly memorable milestone for you in your journey as an entrepreneur?
After six years, I finally reached this little milestone with my team: our first ever bus ride out of the city. I was teary-eyed when I saw this coaster pulling into the venue., and kept crying when my team started posting their photos with the bus! It was a real dream coming true for me. One team is definitely better than one man.
Was there a moment (or moments) when you doubted yourself or the business? What did you do to pull yourself back on track? What was the lesson learned?
There have been many challenges along the way. I tried opening a branch in Makati in 2015, but it did not fare well, and I lost a lot there—time, money, courage. This was a real low point for me and I really wanted to quit. But with the support and encouragement of my husband, I decided to take my masters in entrepreneurship at the Asian Institute of Management, and that really help me grow a lot as a leader and as a business owner. They say no grit, no pearl, right? And truly, owning your own studio requires a lot of grit and hard work.
(Neoprene dress by Cheetah Rivera, consigned by Tanya)
Any practical tips for the working moms out there trying to balance family and career?
I'm going to be honest and I’m just going to say it: it is definitely not easy to juggle everything - family, career, social life, health. In today’s society, being a woman who gets to do it all has been so glamorized that a lot of people only see the tip of the iceberg. They only see the success and all the amazing things that come with it. But let's not forget about the bottom of the iceberg—the long hours, the constant disappointment, the second guessing, the heartaches, the failures, and more.
For me, the biggest challenge I often encounter is really the anxiety that comes with dealing with the unknown, every day. But through the years, I’ve learned that, you cannot chase perfection. You just have to go for it, take it day by day and do something rather than doing nothing. A little progress each day adds up. Have the courage to start, the grit to keep going, and the resilience to get back up no matter the little stumbles along the way.
(Tanya in a simple maxi dress by Our Second Nature, consigned by her)
Besides your pilates business, what are you passionate about?
Being a local brand owner myself, I know how hard it is to sustain a business here and that’s why when I see amazing local brands trying to make something different, trying to challenge the norm, I am instantly in love. I find that I am really attracted to the heart work and talent behind a lot of the local brands here in Manila.
I also love running and I want to train for another marathon this year!
Speaking of local fashion/designer brands, which ones are your favourites? And what do you like about them?
Wear Anika - I love the passionate girlboss behind this brand and her talent for creating comfortable and chic everyday wear.
Aranaz - I really really love the beautiful bags they get to release season after season. Truly world class and I get kilig every time I see their pieces abroad.
Mich Araullo - One of the best designers in Manila today. Extremely feminine and wonderful craftsmanship.
Shop Yoya - Girlboss essential. I love the utilitarian cuts with the surprisingly fresh fabrics.
Pling - This is where I get most of my custom made linen dresses made. Great workmanship and the woman behind the brand is a total momboss.
RAF Manila - I love the story behind Roxanne Farillas’ own entrepreneurial journey, and I just really love local female founded brands. It's a bonus they have great and unique selections too. :)
(Off-the-shoulder top by Jeanjaquet, consigned by Tanya)