Yoga instructors Pom and Enrique Cayeiro were featured on the front page of the Miami Herald at the end of 2009. They were among a group of businesses profiled for struggling to stay afloat during a post real estate crisis economy.
“People didn’t want to spend money and we didn’t want to go back to office jobs,” said Pom, who is from Thailand, adding that they started offering yoga classes in the living room of their apartment to cut back on costs. “We tried to overcome our fears while others just gave up.”
On Sunday, the couple will celebrate the first anniversary of their Iyengar Yoga Center in Miami Beach. The celebration represents personal and professional growth for both of them but also marks an overall improvement in South Florida’s economy in the past few years.
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In December of 2007, Enrique Cayeiro, a Cuban-American, and his wife tried to settle in Miami Beach after spending two years in Thailand.
The couple started teaching yoga in different South Florida gyms and studios but they quickly realized that what they earned was barely enough to cover the cost of traveling long distances to work.
It was then that they decided to install wheels on their furniture so they could easily move it and turn their living room, roughly 300 square feet, into a yoga studio.
“We barely taught two classes a week and since we used our house we charged much less,” said Pom Cayeiro. Each lesson cost $10, almost half of the $18 or $20 charged at most other places.
Last year, the instructors became overwhelmed by the high level of students wanting to take their classes and took a risk by opening their own space at 1218 Normandy Dr., Miami Beach — a 750 square foot locale with a small organic garden in the patio.
Their clientele has increased by eight students at $120 a week. They also went from offering two classes a week to 14.
Improvements in South Florida
Jorge Salazar-Carrillo, an economist and professor at Florida International University, said Miami’s recuperation is due in part to an influx of South American immigrants, mainly from Venezuela, who prefer to invest their money in a more stable place than in their homeland.
“There’s a very big crisis in Latin America. The socialism of the XXI century has proven to be a total failure. Capital from Latin America is flowing into Miami, there’s a high demand for real estate, there’s many technological enterprises that are establishing themselves here,” explained Salazar-Carillo. “Miami has turned into one of the most attractive cities in the world.”
According to preliminary statistics published on May 22 by Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunities, unemployment levels in Miami-Dade County are almost at their lowest point since 2008.
This April, the seasonal unemployment level in Miami-Dade reached a 6.2% above the 6% in March. The unemployment level in the county was at 7.2% in April of 2014, and reached a maximum of 12% at the end of 2009.
More jobs in the U.S.
The economic panorama has also improved nationally.
In May, the Department of Employment reported the creation of 280,000 new jobs in that month, the highest numbers since December. As for unemployment, the level remained at 5.5%.
However, Salazar-Carillo said salaries — nationally and within the state of Florida — still need to be raised.
“It’s the only problem we have yet to resolve here, the distribution of income,” the economist said.
For small business owners Pom and Enrique Cayeiro, the economic improvement has allowed them to enjoy financial stability. Now they dream of inaugurating a yoga center in Khon Kaen, Pom’s birth city in Thailand, in the near future.
“I feel comfortable and proud of our lifestyle,” said Pom. “Gradually, we’ve been able to grow up to the point where we are today.”
Follow Sergio Candido on Twitter: @sncandido