How Urban Martial Arts Got Started: A Behind-the-Scenes Glimpse at Carmen’s Story

By Sensei Serge Sognonvi and Carmen Sognonvi, originally published at

Carmen Sognonvi of Urban Martial ArtsStarting a business is anything but glamorous. If you thought Urban Martial Arts was an overnight success… think again!

Carmen was recently profiled on author Pamela Slim’s blog Escape From Cubicle Nation in “Side Hustle & Flow,” a series about entrepreneurs who started their businesses while they had a day job.

In the interview, Carmen shares how she juggled a variety of jobs for many years — her day job, her own speaking/consulting business on race and diversity, as well as her role here at Urban Martial Arts — until January of this year when she decided to focus on Urban Martial Arts exclusively.

Here are a couple of excerpts, but you can read the entire interview at Pam’s blog:

How did you know when it was time to quit your day job?

It was getting really hard to juggle everything. I was using all my vacation days for speaking engagements, and it started getting a bit difficult to get the time off that I needed. Plus I was just exhausted.

Towards the end I was also pregnant, so I’d be getting on the train at 6 am with my huge belly, working at the hedge fund from 7 am to 4 pm, then shlepping all the way to Brooklyn and working at the martial arts school till 10 pm. And in-between I managed to squeeze in blogging and doing media interviews too. Thinking back, I’m not really sure how I managed it all.

How did it turn out?

It turned out great!…I’m also really grateful that I was able to quit my day job just as my daughter was born, which allowed me to stay with her almost full-time for the first year of her life. When we weren’t at home together, she was with us while we worked at the school. That’s a luxury many parents don’t have, and it’s a privilege I don’t take for granted.

What advice would you give for others who are working on a side hustle now that you have a bit of distance?

Keep your day job for as long as you possibly can. There’s nothing romantic or fun about being broke, so until your business is generating enough income for you to live off of, keep working there.

Financially speaking, I probably could have quit my day job sooner than I did. But I made a decision to work there a little longer so that I could have more of a financial cushion. Of course, how large of a cushion you need is very much a personal decision.