We loved having the chance to chat with Kat Pither, founder of eco-friendly yoga brand, Yogi Bare. Her enthusiasm for the topics important to her is so apparent, and this enthusiasm is positively contagious. We're thrilled to share this exciting new brand that's making waves in the yoga world, and understanding her outlook has been a true joy.
Q: When and why did your journey with yoga begin?
A: If you have kind and compassionate thoughts, you do yoga. If you move, you already do yoga. If you breathe, you already do yoga. If you feel your heart lift in nature, you are great at yoga... So I guess we were all natural Yogis when we were children! Children innately don’t have judgements or the strange stresses we create for ourselves. They just see lightness and joy. They are playful and curious. What happens is we start to forget a lot of that as we get older, we become preoccupied with what society is trying to sell us and what it says matters. And in doing so we lose ourselves under stress, pressure and anxiety.
So if we all start as natural Yogis, then I guess the practice part begins when we begin to unlearn and rediscover our playful side.
For me that was about 5 years ago when after a battle with anxiety and addiction, I found myself very disconnected. Yoga taught me to connect – both physically through appreciating how cool our bodies are and how much they love us and try their best for us – to spiritually when I felt able to soak and savour life fully.
Q: What inspired you to start Yogi Bare?
A: Yogi Bare is the physical manifestation of the concept of yoga being for everybody and every body. I wanted to develop a range of eco-sensitive products with accessible price points after seeing a slight shift in a strand of yoga defined by elitism, body image and extreme practices, all of which can be alienating. I wanted to bring some fun, inclusivity and cheeky joy to a world that can sometimes seem difficult to access. The name isn’t just a fun play on words but the Bare is symbolic of the eco credentials and a sense of stripping back.
Q: How does sustainability play into your business? What are you getting right that other brands are getting wrong?
A: Yogi Bare mats are crafted from sustainable and biodegradable materials and non toxic, water based inks. We’ve spent time visiting our factory to not only meet our standards but also in spending time you see the actual process of manufacture first hand and most importantly, how the people creating our products work day to day. That's so important to me, that Yogi Bare comes from a happy place. I want that to be embedded from the day the idea for a new product first hits me and that flash of inspiration, to the day someone has a moment of magic on their mat, the whole chain is happy. Maybe that’s a weird energetic thing, but it matters to me.
Beyond the product I want this business to have meaning and purpose. For every Wild Paws mat sold, we plant a tree with Matt Smith and HomeTree Ireland and our latest mat, Lunar Paws, donates to the ocean by supporting the work of Sea Shepherd. I feel so stoked to be part of a generation that cares and is educating and teaching others to care. Even a few years ago asking for a coffee in your own cup would have been seen as a bit weird, now it’s the new normal. I'm not an authority on this by any means -- I'm learning as I go. I root for other brands making a change however big or however small. It's only when we work together that we create meaningful, lasting change.
Q: What was the biggest challenge with launching the brand, either business-wise or personally?
A: The most challenging step was finding the courage and self belief. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by people who saw who I was before I could or did.
A: Get outside and surround yourself with real things – real nature, real food, real friends, real laughter and Real dogs. Not the dogs on Youtube Videos. Sometimes all you need is to breathe in real fresh air and realise that most of our stressors and problems are associated with a pretend world on our phones, in our inboxes, on TV or in magazines. As soon as you step away from it and the hold it has on you, you feel free.
Running your own business is the wildest ride I've ever experienced and challenged me to learn to cope, think, and act faster than I ever have. I think you need to constantly edit your life as you go along – if something's causing you anxiety or pain and it's not passing, then maybe its not worth it. Also, we need to start doing things just out of pure joy, not pressuring ourselves to be the best or make a career out of it. If you like art – draw! If you love running – run! It doesn’t mean you have to have a gallery opening or sign up to a marathon or cut off your ear or something. Do it for the love.
Thanks to Kat for catching up with us, and for telling us about her approach to all things life and business. To learn more about Yogi Bare, head to the website here.