5 Yogi Designers Changing the World
When Natalia Zawada relocated from her native Warsaw to London she thought she’d landed her dream job. Instead she spent days and nights working for a fashion house without any personal life. Eventually her body and mind said ‘no’. She quit her job and turned to Jivamukti, falling in love with the meditation and breathing practice that helped her relax and let go of the unnecessary. As she puts it, ‘yoga is the best time-stopper, after kissing.’ The rave parties, bars and restaurants of her youth soon became a distant memory, replaced by what she calls a ‘beautiful addiction’ – regular yoga classes, and day retreats with friends.
She continued her yoga practice while studying Fashion Ethics at the London College of Fashion. One day, in Savasana, her thoughts (bad lady!) circled around the idea of creating a line of sustainable t-shirts for yoga. This idea gave rise to Starseeds, a complete range of sustainable yoga wear and a way of giving back to the practice that was helping her put herself back together.
Now a stand for conscious choices, her ‘slow fashion’ label is a powerful expression of human love and connection. Her passion for tailoring means she is usually to be found obsessing over the cut and fit of a pair of leggings. She puts the same care and attention into sustainability – preserving the beauty of her natural colour palette with slow-dying techniques, using bamboo to create Starseeds’ trademark softness, ramie and hemp to create durability, and a super-cool yarn impregnated with waste coffee grounds to absorb sweat. Her gift bags are blended with almond shells, her hangtags made of plantable seeded paper, her clothes displayed on recycled copper piping.
Natalia’s top tips for building a yoga business
Be true to yourself and do what you really love. If you love yoga – go for it. But don’t force it just because yoga’s the ‘in’ thing.
Collaborate and share. I value giving and sharing and I’ve noticed that everything we give and receive comes back to us.
Find your niche and expand from there – which comes back to being true to yourself.
Ten years ago German born Sylvia Daun had just broken up with a long-term partner, she was unhappy with her job and her life. Then she found yoga. She started practicing Ashtanga every day, getting out of bed and rolling out her mat, and now throws in a weekly yin class ‘to balance it up’.
Through her practice she developed self-awareness and self-knowledge, and started listening to her own inner voice, the one that told her to leave the publishing world and cut her own path. Having a serious weakness for fashion, she yearned to create a range of sustainable and comfortable yoga wear that was also sensual, stylish and flattering. A chance meeting on a beach gave her a business partner with a shared vision, and the fashion and textile experience she lacked.
Sylvia’s belief, that dressing fashionably and responsibly goes hand in hand, means that all Kismet Yogastyle clothing is made out of recycled natural fibres. She works only with small, family-owned businesses that have fair working conditions and pay fair wages, and continually draws inspiration from her community of yoga teachers, including Ryan Spielman, Philippa Gendall, Isa Guitana Wong and Regina Ehlers.
Sylvia’s top tips for creating your own business
Believe in your idea.
Be well prepared.
Surround yourself with supportive people.
Yoga teacher Marlene Smits’ yoga journey began by accident aged seventeen; a rebirthing session which bought her to state of meditation. Her yoga journey continued with Hatha yoga, which progressed to Shiva Rea’s Vinyasa yoga and on to Kundalini and Paul Grilley’s Yin yoga. She now teaches Hatha flow, Yin and Kundalini, which she loves for its precision, practicality and its strong meditative aspect.
Encouraging her students to rid themselves of unwanted baggage and live more joyfully, she decided to follow her own advice; leaving her job as Editor in Chief at Elle to design her own yoga wear brand. The result is Urban Goddess – the self-styled rock chick of yoga wear. Marlene says, ‘I create from a place of knowing what a yogi needs – to be multifunctional, fashionable, fair, affordable, and most of all, to have a worry free fit, so you can focus on your practice instead of on your clothes.’
Most at home in her own label’s leggings, striding the streets of Amsterdam, or recording an online class for Eckhart Yoga, she takes quiet pride in knowing that all her yoga wear is made from certified organic cotton, respecting both humans and the environment.
Marlene’s top tips for creating your own business
Stay clear in your mind and in your mission; don’t drift off.
Don’t think that every one you do business with has the same values.
Money does matter.
Trina Solomon’s mother took her to her first yoga class as a child, so perhaps it’s no surprise that she became a yoga teacher.
Trina is the living embodiment of her belief that yoga gives us the courage to find our true self and reach for our dreams. Hiking the 4,421 metre Mount Whitney with her sister Charlene, the siblings decided to realise their dream – designing active wear for the adventure seeking, wild hearted, and free spirited.
Wanting to work up close and personal with small-scale producers, they found them on beautiful Bali. Touched by the plight of stray dogs on the island, and wanting to end the suffering born of illness, neglect and starvation, SoloSol Movement donates a dollar from every sale to the Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre (BARC). To date the centre has rescued and rehabilitated over 4,000 dogs. Woof Woof.
Trina’s top tips for creating your own business
Follow your heart.
Trust your intuition.
Connect with your community.
Alice Asquith’s love of fabrics and design was passed down the female line, from her great-grandmother, to her grandmother and mother.
At the heart of it all is Alice’s commitment to the yoga principle of Ahisma – compassion for all living things. All materials are ethically grown, completely chemical free and sustainable. They also work on the mat; she uses bamboo because it’s a natural performance material. The clothes are made in Turkey, where employees enjoy relaxed lunch breaks on their sun soaked terrace – amongst pots of home-grown herbs and flowers.
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is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.