I love this quote by Thomas Edison: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Oula was created in 2010 by Kali Lindner. A graduate of The University of Montana in Missoula, Kali became a certified yoga instructor and then received her White Belt in the Nia Technique in Portland, Oregon. Still, she found herself wanting a more physically intense, high-energy and lighthearted workout. Not able to find what she was looking for, she created it herself. Kali combined the movement of dance, the intensity of aerobic workouts, and the philosophies of yoga and Nia to create Oula–Dancemania for the Soul. When not getting her Oula on, she is usually eating good food, traveling, and loving on her husband, friends and dogs.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, Oula fitness is working on expanding our program to different parts of the country. Community is an extremely important part of our business model, and we want other cities across the U.S. to experience the amazing Oula community, sense of well-being and belonging that we have created in Missoula. We are working on different ways to create this when we are not actually there, in addition to figuring out how to get instructors in other cities to have the passion and tools to recreate it for themselves in their own towns.
Where did the idea for Oula come from?
Honestly, the original intention wasn’t for it to become a company. I just wanted a dance class that I couldn’t find, so I started teaching my own thing in Missoula. After a few months of instructing, Crystal approached me and eventually convinced me to join forces with her and turn it into a real program. So I’ve been able to mainly stick to what I love about all of this–the choreography and instruction–and she has built it up as a business, and created the strong sense of community and strategy for expansion. So we both get to work in our elements for the same cause. It’s a really great partnership.
What does your typical day look like?
I wake up, make some coffee, sit down to emails, and have a morning conversation with Crystal about the game plan for the day. Then I move on to teaching, lots and lots of emails, lots of phone calls, looking for good music, creating choreography, etc. There’s always lots and lots of laughing. The women involved in the operations of Oula all like to have a good time, so you’ll usually find us dancing in public somewhere. We also have pretty healthy appetites, so all meetings are held somewhere with food!
How do you bring ideas to life?
The ideas that I’m most proud of are my creative ideas, which usually means choreography. My process involves finding a song that is fun and dance-able, makes me want to move, and strikes an emotional chord in me. Then I will listen to it over and over and over again, and find the nuances in it with which I want to play. Then I start to find movements that can accentuate those brilliant moments in the music. It’s all about finding those “moments” in the song, and if you do it right, that’s where the emotional component comes into play and separates Oula from other dance fitness formats.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m really excited that successful companies these days are allowed to have personalities and voices. It may sound silly, but I love that when you login to WordPress it says “Howdy, [your name].” That may seem like a small detail, but I love it! I love that companies can be respected and taken seriously, even if they have a more lighthearted and fun approach to doing business.
I feel like business leaders of our generation aren’t so afraid to break the mold and express themselves and their personalities. I think that’s what people like about Oula. We’re not a fitness company that puts out several different fitness formats and has a certain system to follow. We are people who love our jobs, have fun with each other, are silly, and change people’s lives by giving them a place where they can feel good about themselves, be free of judgement and competition, and come together to laugh and dance for an hour. People’s bodies are changing like crazy from attending our classes, but that’s more of a side effect of our program, and I love that. I love that we can be a fitness company that views physical transformation as a really nice side effect of something bigger.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I actually hated being a yoga instructor. I felt bad because I had spent so much money on the training, and I felt that I had to teach. But I was awful at it and dreaded going to work. I learned so much from it because it taught me what I didn’t want and led me to what I did want to be doing, which was dancing. It also taught me a lot about energy and being very conscientious about the energy you put out there as an instructor, because the class can feel it. I was putting a lot of fear and insecurity out there, and that obviously didn’t go over so well.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’m not sure. I’m pretty proud of all our accomplishments and failures. We learn a lot every time something doesn’t work. I love this quote by Thomas Edison: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always have to tell myself that it’s okay to do things differently and follow my intuition. I also believe that we all have a purpose, and even if it takes time to find, it’s worth seeking out. When you find it, things fall into place.
What’s on your playlist?
I have so many playlists! I have lots of “potential” songs that I listen to a lot to see if any magic can happen, so I’m usually listening to those songs a lot. But when I’m not working, Pandora is what I listen to–currently I’m on the Vampire Weekend channel.
If you weren’t working on Oula, what would you be doing?
I was originally going to move to England with my husband for his graduate school, but I decided to stay in Missoula to give my energy to Oula. It was a sacrifice, but luckily it’s almost over and my marriage is still going strong! So, if I weren’t working on Oula, I would be traveling around Europe, eating yummy food and drinking a lot of wine.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
All the time! Oula is super ridiculous and silly! I laugh out loud during every class, and every time I talk to Crystal. She is probably the funniest person I have ever met.