For nearly a decade entrepreneur Nielah Burnett’s had a dream of starting a business in Nashville that focused on the healthy lifestyle that juicing and practicing yoga can bring. That vision becomes a reality on July 9th, when her business InnerG celebrates its grand opening at 10:00 AM at 1807 9th Avenue North in North Nashville. The culmination of hard work, determination, and belief in herself has lead to an opportunity for Nielah to share her passion for self-care with Nashvillians.
“In 2011, I moved to Nashville from Atlanta and quickly noticed that Nashville, then and now, was different from Atlanta in terms of feeling a sense of belonging. It didn’t have the boom yet of different places for wellness. It didn’t have juice bars. It didn’t have a bunch of different yoga studios you could go to. Those things were still not really here in Nashville. For me, it’s important to have a space for my wellness journey, so for me, I just saw a need in the market. There was an opportunity to create a wellness space and create a space where I felt like I belonged.”
From there, Burnett would start working to find her footing in the world she wanted to create, and in 2013 was when she really got serious about it. Burnett was practicing yoga at her full-time job and as life changes were happening and she would practice yoga as an outlet in the middle of the day as an opportunity to reset during the day. She would also go to outdoor festivals and sell her own juice she would make, testing the market to see if people would support it. The response: people wanted to know where they could come to buy some of her juices. Burnett knew she had something there and wanted to further her education to fully do what she wanted to do and from there, she headed back to Atlanta.
“In this process, I went back to Atlanta to get my kinetic yoga certification at the Kinetic Science Institute, where I was required to make my own smoothies every day.”
In that process, even more, specifics were born inside of Burnett’s mind.
“From making my own smoothies every day, I fell in love with having fresh fruits and vegetables in my body every day and it also made sense for me to offer this to other people. It was just a great feeling to have a daily regimen of yoga and a daily regimen of juice. That is where the concept of having a wellness space narrowed down to having juice and yoga as the concept. “
Along with coming narrowing down the concept, Burnett had the name come to her in Atlanta.
“The name was birthed out of that yoga certification in 2013 in Atlanta as well. My instructor at the time had this unique definition for the word ‘genius’, which was the art of making uncommon connections. How that resonated with me was, I started realizing more and more as I was practicing that I could be more attentive to things that influenced my wellness throughout the day. I started noticing that if I got off my wellness routine, my day would not go the way I really planned for it to go. So, I kind of attached myself to the idea of energy being a concept for me because it being fuel for your mind but also being aware of all the little influences on my mood and how I carried myself. Between those two things, I just decided the name of this company would be InnerG and it would be a combination of those two things to achieve a wellness lifestyle. “
The name and the concept were taken care of, but the place for her business was quite possibly the hardest part of the business she wanted to create.
“I knew immediately that I wanted to have this as a physical space and I started to pitch that to property owners and banks as early as 2012 before I really had the name I had now. I would consistently get far enough for them to tell me that my idea was really too risky for them right now and that they didn’t really think her business would thrive. Over this amount of time, South Nashville explodes with an Urban Juicer and juice bars along with yoga studios around town. So, it was a bit of a journey of determination to not only prove that I could do this but also to prove the importance of these specific services, juice, and yoga, being placed together in a community that doesn’t have it yet. Yoga and juice bars go to Germantown and Franklin and 12 South, they quite frankly go to places dominated by urban white kids basically. It locks out the people that don’t live there to get the benefits of it. For me, it was a mission of letting me demonstrate and as long as it takes, let me demonstrate that people will want this. I’ve been through nine denials by banks and countless property managers to get to the point of someone saying they would do this with me. “
The area that she was finally able to get her shop at was 9th avenue and Buchanan Street, which isn’t far from Nashville black Businesses Slim N Husky’s, Willie B’s, and Minerva and Burnett could not be happier.
“This is an area that I wanted to be in since 2017. “
The journey may have been a long one, but it has been a fulfilling one for Burnett to get to see her dream become reality and along the way, pick up her Masters in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management from Belmont to help her learn more about running a business.
But even with the time and the degrees, the biggest thing to her is to be able to share her vision and her expertise with our community.
“Many times, back in 2013, I would look around in yoga and I would be the only person that looked like me and then going to some of these festivals, there would little sprinkles of us and I use to ask people where they would go to get their yoga. I am trying to get it to where this is a place where I can bring together people who want to do this and look like me.”
Along with providing a place for yoga, Burnett also is wanting to help people get involved in yoga to battle the ills that Black people deal with daily.
“Yoga teaches you how to control your reactions even when situations are tense. Another thing I am hoping to accomplish is yoga is a way to destress. To take our bodies and our minds out of feeling like we’re always on, whether it be for work, we’re stressed, etc. Take us from a state of feeling like we are always on and give us retreats within our own selves.“
And along with getting more Black people into yoga, Burnett is also trying to break the stigma that Black people don’t do it.
“To me and my perspective on this for a very long time has been the level of peace and calm that I am able to achieve in my life is something that a lot more people like me need. Because in my mind, we are some of the most stressed-out people in this country. From us having to overwork ourselves just to be considered for promotions to having to always be on guard for different microaggressions, we tend to be on guard all the time. I’d like to demystify the idea that yoga is for a certain person and a certain body type. I want this studio to be a demonstration of that. Yoga is not about what someone else looks like when they do it. It’s about the experience that you have and then the way you can carry yourself afterward.”
Burnett has big goals and hopes that this first studio is only the beginning, with more InngerG studios popping up across the country and her exclusive juice being the Coca-Cola of juice. And not only does she want them across the country, but she wants them even more accessible to people where they can walk to them, or they are right there near for great accessibility.
The journey, which began back in 2011, will finally be lifting off and launching into an effort to guide our community in a direction to help us heal mentally, spiritually, and health-wise as well.
To learn more about InnerG please visit their website: www.innergjuiceandyoga.com.