Tracey Stockalper on the Family Businesses

TraceyStockTracey is one of those women who could be intimidating. She’s pretty, can balance in handstand in the center of the room and writes songs that she sings in public places. Yet somehow she’s not scary. She owns a yoga studio with her mother and plays in a band with her brother.

You’re co-owner of a family-run yoga studio in the town where you grew up [Yoga Tropics in Encinitas, CA.] Any temptations to leave SoCal or this family business?

Sometimes, yeah. Actually I had a job offer in Indonesia, in Bali. It was not to leave the business, but to expand it. It was a huge wellness center. The scale of this was outrageous. And they wanted upfront rent and investment. It just didn’t work out. The timing wasn’t right. But other than the timing not being right, I would’ve gone and checked it out. The contract was for 5 years. I’m 27 now. At the time I was 26 and I thought, “In 5 years I’ll be 31 and I’ll want to settle down and have a family. I don’t know if taking this opportunity would be getting me closer to that goal.” It would’ve been a fun detour, though. My boyfriend is an ayurvedic practitioner. He was offered a position there also.

What’s your dad’s role in the business?

My dad actually found the space, the original space. He and my mom were on the title when we first opened. That was 8 years ago in 2006. He has his own thing going on. He sells life insurance and does financial planning. They’re still married. They’re high school sweethearts. He was working at Wells Fargo but then decided to work more independently. So he’s working from home now and helps out around the studio making sure the heaters work. He’s our go-to maintenance guy. He can teach a class, he can wipe a floor, he can fix the heater. He makes sure that the shop is ready to go. He opens in the morning and closes at night. He pops in a few times a day. Now that he works from home (like a 30 second walk from here), it’s easy for him to pop in. And he practices daily.

You play music at local restaurants and clubs. How did you get started?

My brother was encouraging me once he discovered that I had an interest in music. I was a really shy kid and I used to lock myself in my room and blast Fiona Apple or Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald. I really liked some of the jazz singers. Just singer-songwriter stuff too, like Lauryn Hill. I would just sing. And one day I forgot to lock the door to my bedroom and my mom walked in. She heard me singing and thought I was singing kind-of well. So she made a comment, “You should train your voice and go see a vocal coach.” She’s kind of like an agent. Like a pageant mom. She really wants to promote me.tracyBro

How do you deal with nerves?

At first it was nerve-wracking singing in front of people. I hated it. But teaching yoga got me to a place where I could be in a room with people looking at me and not feel like I was gonna freak out. Just being exposed to public speaking really helps.

If the crowd is going to watch me specifically, I feel a little bit more nervous. So I try to keep my gaze a little bit higher. If I’m on stage and I see heads in the crowd, I just try to look above when I feel uncomfortable. At this point, it’s been like 3 years since we started playing on stages. Sometimes we’re in the background at a restaurant and sometimes we’re on stage. They kinda just feel the same now. It’s like we’re rehearsing. We’re having fun. But we can’t stop the song in the middle to make a comment.

What have you thought about pursuing music on a grand scale?

Around 2 years ago, I started to get more into it and play locally. My brother wanted to build up our band name and build up our website. He’s my older brother. He studied jazz composition at UCSD, then went to law school. He wanted to have a fancy lawyer job and settle down but it didn’t really work out that way. He didn’t like it so he changed his career. Now he teaches music downstairs from the yoga studio. We use his space for rehearsing and recording, too.

We just play music for fun on the side. We play 2-3 times a month locally. My parents are great support for us. They don’t go to every show but they definitely go when it counts, like the bigger venues. But if we’re playing Papagayo or Solterra or Wine StealstracyScover, they’re not gonna be at every single gig. But my dad is at, like, 95% of our shows.

What about touring?

That’s the hard part about being a business owner and trying to pursue a music career on the side. Every minute that I want to just hop in the car and take off, there’s all this responsibility. My mom helps me a lot. I did get to go to Asia for 2 months and travel around and that was cool.

Is there a song that you love that you wish you had written?

One of the really great writers, who I aspire to write like, is Willie Nelson. He’s very talented. I’m not a huge country fan but some of his jazz compositions (like the song “Crazy” that Patsy Cline sings) are incredible. I like jazzy vocal songs. Any of Norah Jones’ songs. Like “Don’t Know Why.” I wish I could’ve written that; it’s a masterpiece. Radiohead I think is really interesting. Nobody can copy what they’re doing. I’d love to be able to say I wrote the “In Rainbows” album.

What is the hardest obstacle that you’ve overcome in life?

It was really hard for me to drop out of college. I had to decide between school (and another career route) or staying here. I wanted to be a nurse. And to do full-time nursing school, with practical hours and work in a hospital, it’s very time consuming. So it was either that or the yoga business. There was nothing else I wanted to do at the time.

The day-to-day operations for Nurse versus Yoga Teacher are very different. How did you decide?TraceySteaching

I was turned off a little bit to nursing when I volunteered in the Emergency Room and the ICU. I got to see all kinds of things. I wanted to do more neo-natal, work with babies, labor and delivery, those kinds of things. I saw a really cool movie called “The Business of Being Born,” actually by Ricki Lake. That kind of changed my ideas and got me more into the idea of natural birth. I just felt disconnected from the hospital scene and being around people that are sick. Yoga is more being around people that want to be healthy. It’s just a different energy and I’m very affected by the energy in my environment.

What kinds of relationships do you have now with your exes?

Oooh, that’s a juicy question. I’m a pretty mellow person. I don’t like a lot of drama. So overall my relationships with them are pretty good. No problems. If I see people around on the street usually it’s a quick, “Hello” and then keep going. No questions asked. I’m so over my past relationships and very deeply into the one I have now. So the past stuff doesn’t even matter anymore. I’ve been with Dan for over 3 years. We live together; we moved in after 6 months. We’ve talked marriage and kids but we’re not in any rush to get there.

 

Check out their songs and upcoming show dates here: Mango Melody. To take classes with Tracey, check her schedule here.

 

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