The Story Of UME Yoga And Saba Moeel, And Why Oakland Protestors Should Protect Not Attack, UME Yoga
I desire for more public discussion I provide the following;
#UmeYogaOakland was founded in 2015 and opened in May 2016
I apologize if I did not engage people or more of the UME Yoga members.
I generally kept my time in studio private to focus our staff has run the studio for the past four years. There has been quite a bit going on with my personal health so in mid-November after surviving two strokes, I had to decide if I was going to continue working, and also funding/supporting UME.
Then COVID-19. The UME Yoga studio has been closed since March 13, 2020 and we do not know when Alameda county will fully lift the SIP or Shelter-In-Place. I have taken the appropriate steps to minimize the impact to the UME members. refunding freezing and also lowering the rates. (this remains an open and active process).
I chose to pay our Ohana (our UME staff), their full regular rates and wages for through the end of May before introducing a round of furloughs and a modified teacher line up we sought every contact to get a rough estimate when alameda county would allow operations to resume, even with reduced classes retaining 27 of 37 positions hoping the SIP would only be until July even though the studio was not open.
Tiffany Sun our former Manager initiated a streaming program we agreed to continue our instructors at their regular contract rates for the past 90+ days. She deserves my (our) thanks.
Then studio was looted and ransacked on 5/29 and 5/31 during the Oakland Protest of the murder of George Floyd and riots that occured. We made a conscious decision in 2015 to make UME Yoga instructors employees as required under our interpretation of California state law, unlike the vast majority of our competitors. New California state law AS OF 1/2020 now clearly mandates this (and is one of the main reasons other studios cited for their permanent closures).
We never sought to profit as a studio – the mission was to break even and provide a great studio and are grateful for everyone’s contribution to that vision.
You may or may not be aware, but UME Yoga has operated at a loss for the past 4 years, costing the partners in excess of $140,000 per year just to keep the lights on. (no return on investment, no profit on investment, no salaries for partners since 3/1/16, but again, none was planned or expected). We just did not want to lose money.
The streaming participation model makes little to no financial sense, but we wanted to honor memberships in hopes some level of normal class environment would present itself in the coming weeks which now looks like several months. We have committed to continuing the streaming classes with Fit Grid but some have advised we should consider shutting down.
Since January 1, 2020 I have personally funded over $300,000 for UME to remain open. I assumed full responsibility for the losses…But that is a bit more than my health and stress level can handle during my recovery. So, in searching for someone to select to transition of ownership I made a conscious decision to select Saba Moeel, a single mom who I have worked on projects in the music industry with empowering female rappers in a male dominated space.
Saba has taken a huge risk a the toughest moment and now has a stake in the business since April 2020. Separate and apart from her involvement as new partner in UME, Saba has cultivated an online personality as @pinkcatdaily on instagram, enjoying some 145,000 followers and fans and now apparently some detractors. These detractors are apparently behind a series of recent attacks on the business, and Saba’s character. since reported to me some two weeks ago by one of our former yogis. I retained a private investigator, Ingenious Tactical Solutions and a social media consultant Zennie62Media, Inc., to investigate the claims and provide a report to me and the other UME partners.
A dozen of our instructors have now quit citing our values do not meet their standard of ally-ship. I have never cancelled, virtue signaled, or shamed anyone for their views respecting individual rights to expression free of censorship. I have not reviewed each of Saba’s posts or lyrics to her many rap songs, but in looking on Instagram I do not believe Saba’s posts is in anyway directed at degrading or diminishing any one or UME Yoga’s mission, its employees or any of the Ume Ohana, what so ever. But that is only one view, and I am open to hearing other perspectives and have but I still remain fiercely loyal to Saba as a business partner, artist, and friend. Now people are calling her racists and a white culture vulture. A Muslim woman who is Persian/Turkish with a half black Cuban daughter is being called out by white women as racist?
Having had the privilege to work with Saba professionally for the past few months she has been professional, courteous, respectful, and accountable. welcoming of all colors, races, religions,genders, and identities, including me! If you want to point a finger and “virtue signal” please start with me.
UME has prided itself as a safe space free from harassment in the work-place and has continued to promote those values with all of its staff and ownership alike. What about restorative justice or discussing the apparent offense?
I am hopeful when the world comes back to some kind of normal we will once again make UME “a calm place in a world gone mad” and have humans in our beautiful studio including you. If not we wish you well.
To the nameless faceless cowards who look to bully, break, and loot. I am sorry your anger or boredom lead you to focus your vitriol and hate on our yoga studio and flower shop.
To our Ohana thank you, for your patronage.
Peace to you we hope to survive this!
P. H. Tagami, Partner
#UmeYoga Oakland, LLC