3 Zen Fashion Brands For The Aspiring Yogi 3 Zen Fashion Brands For The Aspiring Yogi If the words corporation and soul seem diametrically opposed, that’s because, for almost all of American history, they have been. Corporations have been, in many cases, the place where souls go to die. It’s not been seen as “business like” to be emotional. It’s not been seen as “professional” to infuse meetings with talk of feelings and purpose. It’s not considered OK to take a day off because you aren’t feeling quite right spiritually. But for three women-founded and women-run businesses, emotions, spirit, and soul run the show. And all of their businesses are thriving because of this new model. Here are three of them: Rock and Raw Jewelry The founder of Rock and Raw Jewelry, known for their beautiful guardian pendants sported around the necks of some of yoga’s biggest Instagram influences (including Yoga Girl, Rachel Brathen), Lucy Sherwood is an unlikely jewelry designer. Although crystals had always played a role in her personal life and her yoga practice, her professional life was largely one of deadlines and briefs. As a London-based attorney, Sherwood grew up in a family where achievement was in numbers of degrees and the prestige of having a name career. The problem: Legislative law was killing her soul. “I wanted to do something where I didn’t have to leave my soul at the desk,” says Sherwood who had a life wake-up call in the form of a heartbreak. She realized then and there that something had to give. And so she started Rock and Raw. The jewelry is unique in that, unlike most yoga jewelry that is raw and a bit rough, her jewelry is fine and delicate. Every stone is sourced from the highest grade possible, every metal precious and ethically sourced. “I am trying to create heirlooms,” Sherwood says. She was able to leave her position as a lawyer rather quickly due to the success of her jewels even though she only had one jewelry making course under her belt. She prides herself on making decisions that seem outlandish and wild to anyone but her. “This whole business is about believing in the impossible and finding people who believe in the impossible with you,” she says with a laugh. And yet, it’s been true. People might say it is impossible to bless every piece of jewelry that leaves their hands with intention made personal for the new owner. And yet she does. People may say it is impossible to run a business where they’ve never taken a single paid ad. And yet Sherwood hasn’t. Ever. And the business has been wildly successful. The jewelry is unique in that, unlike most yoga jewelry that is raw and a bit rough, her jewelry is fine and delicate “We have five employees in the UK office and 15-20 people worldwide,” Sherwood says. “It keeps growing so fast. We are earning 100 times more than we did our first year.” The business is run with care. If employees are sad or off for whatever reason, they are encouraged to take sick days. Every single stone is set with intention and every piece of jewelry is something that came to Sherwood during meditation. She considers her entire business to be the work of spiritual manifestation and she is building future leaders within Rock and Raw who will start their own business infused with intention. The sky is the limit for Rock and Raw. KiraGrace Yoga Clothing Kira Karmazin spent years in the fashion industry and also practicing yoga, but it wasn’t until the birth of her daughter and her life as a single mom, that she realized she could combine the two and create something she saw missing in modern yoga clothing. Her company, KiraGrace, is founded on the principal of creating elegant, beautiful yoga clothing that makes women feel good about themselves. Until she came along, many companies created clothing for a very specific body type and women who fell outside those lines were often excluded. She aimed to change that. The San Diego based company has been incredibly successful and also avoided the body-shaming and sourcing pitfalls so many other male-run yoga apparel companies have fallen into “Our clothes create a sense of confidence when you wear them through a beautiful fit and flattering designs,” says Karmazin. The San Diego based company has been incredibly successful and also avoided the body-shaming and sourcing pitfalls so many other male-run yoga apparel companies have fallen into and doubled down on their commitment to creating positive change for women. Last year they partnered with Off the Mat, a group run by activist yoga teachers trying to create social change through the practice of yoga. KiraGrace created leggings specifically designed in an array of sizes to fit all body types to raise awareness and make it more than just about the physical practice of yoga. According to Off the Mat: “This campaign has been crafted with as much awareness to environmental and justice issues as possible. From 3rd party verification of manufacturing practices, to the inclusion of larger sizes, to the body diversity in the photo shoot, we’re proud of our work together.” The company also partners with Yoga Medicine on our Black Onyx Seva Campaign. All of the profits from the Black Onyx Seva Legging will go to the Seva Foundation to open a shelter outside New Delhi, India in 2018 for women and children human trafficking survivors. For Karmazin, infusing her products not only with style, but also with heart and soul, is a huge part of why she founded the company. “I found my calling when I attended the Omega Institute’s Women Empowerment conference which encouraged women to lead,” she says. “It was clear to me after that conference that the only way for women to have global change is for women to take leadership roles. It’s scary to take that risk, but when you do, then you step into a whole different position where you are creating freedom for your life, you’re creating the balance that you need, but you’re also creating a foundation for other women.” ECOBAGS® Author and founder Sharon Rowe had one simple desire when she founded her company: To find reusable bags that didn’t fall apart. It seemed like it should have been an easy ask, but everywhere she looked, the bags were flimsy and unusable after one time. This was back in 1989 before people were talking much about the environment or the impact of disposable bags. So Rowe decided to start a business to address an issue no one was talking about in a way that wasn’t even close to trendy at the time. “ECOBAGS® was founded on a basic and simple principle of ‘do no harm,’” Rowe says. “ From the very beginning I decided that if I was going to solve a problem here I didn’t want to solve it on the backs of people somewhere else. What this means is that I looked for, verified, and then certified our supply chain to make sure all of our products were ‘fair wage and fair labor’ from the beginning.” It’s become trendy in recent years to have transparency in business, but back then, it was unheard of. Rowe did it anyway because it was the right thing to do. The company has had some ups and downs over the years. By 2007, their revenue was up to $700,000, but when Oprah featured them on her first Earth Day show they went up to $2,200,000 in 2008. There was a slight dip during the recession, but they have been riding steady at $2 million since 2010, which is very comfortable for a smaller company, Rowe says. Her company really runs on her life philosophy. She encourages all employees to turn their email off after hours and on weekends and not use disposable cups or utensils or bags when in the office. “If we are sharing stories about how to go low-zero waste and live a more sustainable lifestyle we must model that ourselves,” remarks Rowe. As a woman led company, things like flexible scheduling and deeper listening are major values top to bottom. “I never bought the rags to riches story or ‘go big or go bust.’ Those are myths anyway. If you’re in business, why not enjoy the ride. It’s not always great but, again, if eighty percent of the time you’re learning, connecting, impacting, and making a good living, it’s working,” says Rowe. When Oprah featured the company on her first Earth Day show they went up to $2,200,000 in 2008 Sasha Brown-Worsham Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer and yoga teacher whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Self, Runners World, and many other publications. She lives outside NYC with her husband, three kids, and many animal friends.