15 Nov Meet The Maker I: Cork Yogis – The Socially Minded Yoga Company
We recently talked with Lara, the founder of Cork Yogis, about starting up her own sustainable and ethical yoga accessories business, her recent experience being on Dragons Den and why the charitable aspect of their company is so important to them.
Cork Yogis supports a charity in India called Destiny Foundation. This charity supports human trafficking survivors and they work towards empowering and educating survivors by provided free training courses in sewing and literacy. Lara talks about how Cork Yogis help this charity and the importance placed on this aspect of their brand.
As a result of this commitment towards supporting human trafficking survivors, Cork Yogis is one of our social contribution brands, these are companies on our site which not only create products which are sustainably and ethically focused but also their business contributes to a specific cause. You can shop by social contribution in the shop by values page as well as look out for the visual tag on the product pages.
For those that don’t know about your products and brand, can you give us a quick overview of your company?
CorkYogis mission is to create revolutionary, natural and eco-friendly yoga products for yogis worldwide. Whilst using the gift of yoga to create positive lasting changes for vulnerable women in developing world.
We have created a range of cork yoga mats made from natural, sustainably harvested cork that provide an amazing non-slip surface. The grip actually increases as you sweat, making them perfect for sweaty yoga sessions. We work with human trafficking survivors in Kolkata, India, and we give donations with every purchase towards educational courses for the girls to help them build a better future. We also give jobs to the skilled women by employing them to make our yoga mat bags.
How important is the charitable aspect of your company to you and your brand?
It’s very important for us and for our brand. I was really inspired by companies like TOMs shoes when I was building the company and we hope to one day make a big impact like them! As yoga is one of the most beautiful gifts given to us by India, I think its fair that we can use the popularity of yoga in the west to give back to vulnerable communities in India.
What have the challenges been in setting up Cork Yogis?
We have had quite a few challenges setting up! The whole business has been completely self-funded (I used to live in Canada and I used the tips I collected from a waitressing job to launch the business!) and when I started out I have no idea about business or how a person would go about launching a business. So the whole experience has been a huge learning curve and people have always been really supportive and responsive to what CorkYogis is trying to achieve.
You were recently on Dragons Den, how did you find the experience and what were your takeaways from it?
Yes we were! It was a terrifying experience to be honest, I knew months before that I was going to go on it so I had a lot of time to work myself up about it! But actually when the lift doors opened, they’re just people at the end of the day so the actual time on the show was fine!
The exposure from the show has done wonders for us, we got a ton of support and now so many more people know about us!
Do you think the number ethical and environmentally minded businesses like yours will grow?
I think they are already growing. There are so many more amazing social enterprises around these days all doing completely different things from making sustainable water bottles, combatting food waste to using coffee culture to provide jobs for the homeless.
It is harder to start a social enterprise and most of the time it has self-funded but its easier when you have a passion in mind that makes you want to work harder and longer.
What are your plans for the near future for Cork Yogis and what are you looking to achieve?
Our plans are quite simple, we’re just going to keep growing and see where that takes us. We would also like to start our own charitable foundation in the near future.
You can check out their range of mats on our store here.