How We Started a
Luxury Yoga Mats Business
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
We are Carlo and Rachel and we founded Posey Yoga (formerly Yoga Mata). A luxury eco-friendly yoga brand that UK influencers are obsessed with. We started up the company to bring beautiful, eco-conscious yoga products to the UK market, that help yogis achieve their best ever practice.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
Rachel: Yoga came into my life at the time when I needed it most. Once you become part of the yoga community you realise how much it has positively influenced the lives of everyone who takes it up. I loved practising yoga and realised it was quickly becoming my passion.
I knew that I wanted to incorporate yoga more into my world but the teaching route didn’t appeal to me and I knew it wouldn’t work with my lifestyle. Instead, I decided to explore the product route. Most of the yoga products I had come across were very similar and I saw an opportunity to inject beautiful patterns, designs and creativity into yoga mats that would inspire people to practice, even on those mornings where they really didn’t feel up to it.
Carlo and I worked together on the business plan, and the financials. Found a manufacturer who understood our eco-friendly focus and Posey Yoga was launched!
We saw that the yoga product market was dominated by a few key players who were putting out relatively similar products. What we wanted to achieve, hadn’t been done at scale anywhere else. We started to explore what was out there in other markets and countries and realised that we could really launch something unique to the UK.
Naturally yoga is a big hobby of mine and was the spark that started the whole business. However, we are both very interested in business, side hustling and finding creative ways to grow companies.
We both listen to podcasts and enjoy learning about how companies have grown or failed. Before COVID we enjoyed attending meet-ups with other entrepreneurs and start-up founders to get inspired and hear their stories.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
We didn’t have much startup capital so we weren’t able to take advantage of low unit prices. That meant our initial few runs of stock, packaging etc came at a very high price and we had to pay very close attention to our margins.
We wanted to do something different to the competition. We carved out a clear brand persona, we nailed down our voice, who we are and what we wanted to achieve – from that point on we have kept a laser focus on our own path, not the competition.
Whenever you start mentioning your business idea to friends, colleagues and acquaintances you are always going to get a mixed bag of supporters and sceptics. We were clear about who our ideal client/target market was and decided to get feedback only from that pool of people.
Working with new suppliers has its own challenges. You have to build up trust and when you’re investing your life savings then the stakes are so high. We have been fortunate that everyone we’ve worked with has been reliable. But we did do a lot of due diligence, and turned away some suppliers that we really liked the look of if they didn’t have good references, or couldn’t meet our timelines/quality checks.
An obvious challenge for us was COVID. Everything was going well, our supply chain was good and suddenly the world came to a halt. We were as transparent as possible with our customers about delays, communicated regularly and they appreciated that authenticity. Fortunately, things are back up and running now and we’ve put measures in place to ensure we won’t go out of stock again.
Who is your target market?
Our ideal client is an avid yogi aged 25-35. She likely has a good amount of disposable income, pays a membership to a modern yoga studio. Has a full wardrobe of active wear, and rarely wears anything else even on the days she’s not working out. She is vegan and always knows about the new vegan spots in town before they open. She enjoys a takeaway coffee in her own reusable mug on her way to practice.
We see her living near or in a big city. She has a close group of friends who she regularly goes out with and probably attends a yoga retreat once a year.We also work with high end retailers, hotels and studios who want to give their clients a luxury experience in class.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
We use the typical mix of digital marketing ads (Facebook, Google, Instagram etc). We have had great success with social media influencers. They love our mats and as soon as we built up a bit of a following we started getting inbound requests which is fantastic. We love working with influencers as they really speak to our audience. We have some exciting collaborations coming up soon.
We’ve also been working hard to build up our own channel following and have a very engaged set of fans. Our customers are amazing at sharing their experiences with our products and have become huge brand advocates. We love them for that and it’s such a great marketing channel for us.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
The most important part of this is creating a product that people love. Customer retention becomes easy and you build up brand advocates.
We make sure we keep our promises around delivery times etc, and if any issues arise we try to spot them before the customer does, and keep open channels of communication. We throw in special surprises for our loyal customers and let them know how much we appreciate them choosing us.
After sale, we contact our customers asking them for honest reviews and we take that feedback seriously.Making our contact information easy to find, means if a customer has to reach out, they know where to go.
We have created a new product line of yoga accessories that we can offer to our existing customers. We haven’t found anything else like our products on the market so if they want one of our products, they have to come to us!
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
At the moment, Carlo works on the business full time and we use a lot of freelancers, artists and contractors. We choose to work with people who share our values and understand our vision. We practice honesty and integrity and this rubs off on the people who work with us.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
Where we can, we integrate different software systems so that we can easily pull data from one to the other.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Initially we had challenges with our parcels going missing. That was an expensive lesson and so we had to adapt. To overcome this we made some amends to our packaging and switched delivery couriers. We learned that you get what you pay for. So now we pay a lot more for our deliveries which does eat into our margin as we absorbed this cost rather than passing it onto the customer. But we haven’t had another parcel go missing and we want to maintain high standards of delivery.
If we were starting again, we might have borrowed money early on to take advantage of lower unit prices (naturally the price goes down, the higher the quantity you’re producing). We were very cautious early on, and that probably cost us a bit in terms of scalability.
We have stayed authentic to our vision and our values- producing beautiful yoga mats that you can’t get anywhere else. Our customers are at the heart of our business and always will be.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
We love working together and watching something grow. We’ve never worked harder but it is so rewarding and satisfying.
Being able to really watch your vision come alive is the most incredible feeling. Making decisions on your own terms and moving at your own pace without being strangled by red tape really gives you a great sense of freedom and possibility.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
It’s stressful! The stakes are high and you care about everything so much more than in any regular job. That means the highs are higher but the lows are much lower. You put a lot of pressure on yourself and not everything will always go to plan so learning to be resilient, and adaptable are really important character traits to have.
Naturally, you don’t have access to teams and experts so you find often that you’re stuck trying to work at a skill you’ve never had. One day you’re a social media manager and the next day you’re a CFO. The variety can be great but it can also get really frustrating if you’re working on a part of the business that doesn’t interest you.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
We regularly listen to the Tim Ferris podcast. It’s great to hear other peoples stories. You get inspired and it can give you a boost especially on the days when you’re really struggling. Equally, it’s great to figure what kind of a company you don’t want to run. There are some leaders who have built amazing businesses but we don’t aspire to hone those types of skills or personality traits.
I would also highly recommend Good to Great – Jim Collins describes how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how most companies fail to make the transition.
We’re also huge believers in the Gallup strengths finder philosophy.
The most important lessons we have taken away from these pieces of content, particularly 4-hour Work Week, and Strengths Finder is that if something doesn’t feed you it will cost you less to delegate it away. Even though there might be a monetary figure attached to delegating it, your time is so much better spent in your golden zone, pushing the business forwards in areas that you truly love and are great at.
So, we try to remember that we have different strengths and when we’re hitting a brick wall with a particular task or project, we brainstorm why that might be and what the best route is to get it completed quickly and up to standard.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
We would love to be a household brand in the UK. We want teams of experts who can propel the business forwards with us.