Soul People: Pip is the founder of Now Studio, a gorgeous yoga and photography space in Bristol that celebrates community, expression and sustainability, as well as having some bloody good teachers. If you ever get a chance to do one of Pip's yin workshops – for the love of god, go.
Words by Rachel Lingham | 9th December ‘20
Here’s a little more about Pip, her inspirations, and the story behind the brand.
These days you’ll find me over in East Bristol, I’m thoroughly enjoying the pace of life here in the West Country having felt a bit chewed up and spat out by London life.
Working in the world of wellness (as a yoga facilitator and event producer) definitely didn’t leave me feeling so well as an individual; the grind was just too much. I needed to walk my talk – those who practice with me will understand how this translates on the mat and in life – to do less, feel more, and London wasn’t allowing me to that.
Tell us about Now Studio.
Now Studio is a creative space I’ve renovated and run in Mivart Studios, Easton. It forms a blank canvas to create – be that through movement or photography.
I would also say it’s the most handsome, light-filled studio in the area, but I’m maybe just a little biased.
What inspired you to set up the studio?
There wasn't a space in Bristol that felt quite right for the things I wanted to host. I struggled to find my home from which I would share my practices and workshops – tbf I was a bit Goldilocks about what was available.
Locally, I felt many spaces lacked a feel of community as they were all hire spaces, each person just taking “their time” in the room – too dark, too cluttered, too small, too busy, no fresh air – the list went on.....
And so I realised that instead of complaining about what I wanted not being here, I had to create it. And so here we are. I made a studio (eeeeek!) and am creating the community I couldn't find elsewhere.
What is Now’s purpose?
We exist to support the wellbeing of our people. We have three drivers behind all that we do - community - connect - create.
Our community is at the centre of all we do, we pride ourselves on being a local studio, set out of the city centre. We seek to connect into our local community and into ourselves as individuals.
And we offer space to explore creativity – a primal, natural urge that must be satisfied in order to feel well and complete as individuals, and as part of a society.
Why do you think purpose driven businesses matter?
It is about creating something that is of real value to others isn’t it? It is all about impacting somebody’s life in a positive way through your work. So that when your head hits the pillow at the end of the day there is a sense of doing some good in this world.
I know not all business can work this way but the more businesses that operate with real heart and authentic energy the better our world will be.
Biggest challenge about running your business?
As the only person at present working in and on the business, I take full responsibility for everything outside of the sessions we deliver. There is always a lengthy to do list.
I try to work in a truly connected way - not forcing, allowing things to flow when they are ready. I try to full acknowledge that, knowing that energy and creativity come in cycles (just as everything does in this universe).
But all too often, that cycle and the “due date” for event bookings, plans and graphics may not necessarily sync up just how I would have liked. I am learning to be more gentle with myself, not putting so much pressure on – its a simple case of waiting until the moment is right.
How have you handled the huge changes forced upon us all? If you've embraced it, and leaned it into it, tell us how?
Now studio was actually the first studio in the UK to make the switch to online sessions - I was deeply unhappy with the government's initial approach to lockdown, and so I took us on “a Zoom adventure” before any restrictions were imposed in our country.
Our community was very understanding of the fact that as Now is actually in the business of wellness - that is, keeping people well - it was essential that we help to preserve the health of the community. This meant beyond the yogis that visit regularly – that we look after the wider health of the people.
The team jumped into it, I was super impressed by their fearlessness and adaptability - these very carefully selected yogis really giving back to the studio. Some of our workshops took a little time to get tweaked into an online format but we got there. We now offer a schedule of movement, yoga, sound sessions, life drawing, self massage and more - all here to hold the nervous system of the people whilst it takes a collective discharge.
Often the imagery that goes with the word wellness is that of a yogi - we are going deeper than that in our offering, bringing something more rounded, more complete, to the table, so people can find the support within themselves. These are practices for life, for all.
How do you connect with the now? (As in the present, not your studio!)
My meditation practice has a huge part to play in my connection to the now.
It might be a quiet, seated meditation, or meditation in movement – be it walking, running or asana practice.
Without time to connect each day not much good happens, my energy is all diffuse – and my focus is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
To me it is an essential part of every day - the only thing that may change is the time I have to devote to it in the morning (I am definitely an early hours meditator - it needs to happen pre breakfast for it to happen at all).
What role does the ocean play in your work and life?
I grew up by the sea in North Wales so the ocean always has been very evocative of home for me.
Me and the ocean have had a complex relationship. I spent a good few years (as an adult) very scared of 'sea monsters' - the things I couldn’t see in the water - so rarely went in.
I learned then that just being close is enough for me - the 'blue effect' as it is known.
The calming of the senses that happens when we are immersed in blue spaces shifted me physically, emotionally and mentally. The inner state slowly reflecting the outer environment, the waves, the rhythmic ripples, the flow.
These days, I am happiest with a board under me/ strapped to my ankle when in the sea. Living in the south west of England is ace for this - we have loads of lovely spots to head out that aren’t too long a journey from Bristol, Devon and South Wales.
And of course we have the Wave - a surf lake right here in Bristol.
What are your thoughts on travelling and the impact on the planet? How do you handle it?
I really think that this year will shift people's attitude to travel. The 'throw away' weekend trips will fade, and people will invest more in exploring places that enrich them more, so they give back to society through being better humans.
I am hoping that more conscious travel like this means that people will also spend - both time and money - to compensate for their impact.
And make other better choices throughout daily life, that allow them to tread lightly on the earth if they are choosing flight to experience other cultures and places.
Any books you’d recommend?
Sensitive Chaos is my all time favourite book. It's about repeating patterns in nature - water and air in particular - how these are formed at a universal level and repeated throughout, how they manifest within each of us and our surroundings.
It is mind-blowingly beautiful and forever changed my lens on what I see before me. Surfers and yogis alike will LOVE this insight.
Where's next on your own travel bucket list?
I am so overdue a trip out to see you guys that is for sure, these bones are craving some winter sun, having been grafting on the studio all of last winter. Sri Lanka is next on the wish list, but let's see what happens with travel before I get too excited.
I think a trip into the wilds of Cornwall once the weather cools and it becomes quieter is more probable right now. To spend some quiet time 'being,' not doing, and to slide into a winter wetsuit and fall into the sea a whole lot too.
And finally - what does Soul mean to you?
Soul, to me, is the spirit, the energy that drives us to do what we do. Pure and simple.
If we allow ourselves to align with this energy, we find our own authentic way in this world with a real sense of ease.
Find out more about Pip and her projects at piproberts.com