YOGO: The Best Travel Yoga Mat Ever Made. An Interview With The Founder, Jessica Thomas.
By Kelly Krishna Dunn
San Francisco-based startup YOGO launched the iconic YOGO Mat just a few years ago. Made from biodegradable natural tree rubber and recyclable straps, the mega-grippy and washable-machine yoga mat folds and snaps into a tiny bundle suitable for eco-conscious, on-the-go yogis. They have now become yoga practitioners travel mat of choice! Not only are they getting people to do outdoor yoga more often, but YOGO Mats are helping to make the world green! We had the chance to sit down with the woman behind this incredible company, Jessica Thomas, CEO and owner of YOGO.
What was it that inspired you to create an eco-conscious company?
My original business partner invented the folding YOGO Mat. He wanted to run to yoga with a mat on his back, so he designed the folding mat that straps up tiny while keeping the mat surface clean. Ryon Lane (founder of YOGO Mat) asked for my assistance in managing the business aspect. They launched on Kickstarter and opened a store on Shopify. Gradually I became the CEO and Owner.
Which style of yoga do you practice and why?
I practice primarily yin yoga, because it helps to calm my mind, body and spirit. It is a practice that focuses on inner healing that is not attainable in any other sport that I know. I do enjoy a variety of styles such as ashtanga, vinyasa, flow and gentle yoga. My favorite studio is YogaWorks because it offers several class styles that serve as a great first step into learning plenty of instruction, the basics and the background of yoga.
Can you tell us about your Food Trees For Poverty program?
Our Food Trees for Poverty program donates one tree per yoga mat in an African or Latin American country including Belize, Honduras, Panama, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, and Senegal, Tanzania, through partner NGOs.
The partner NGOs were chosen because of their long term, social interventions that address the real root of deforestation in these areas: poverty. In addition to Trees for the Future and Sustainable Harvest International to provide each family sustainable agriculture training so each family can independently feed themselves and farm in a way that restores the environment. “Forest gardens” they revitalize land and help prevent deforestation in tropical areas.
By promoting restorative agriculture, the program presents a triple-impact of healing the environment, providing food, and contributing long-term to livelihoods.
When did you officially launch “Food Trees For Poverty” program and why?
One year ago. The program presents a huge impact of healing for families in developing nations across the globe. In collaboration with selected NGO’s Trees for the Future and Sustainable Harvest International improves the quality of life for impoverished families in need.
You also offer people the option to buy a tree for $1, is that correct?
Yes, in addition to planting a tree per YOGO Mat, we also offers the ability to buy individual trees for $1. We are conducting an ongoing social experiment in altruistic shopping. Currently about 65% of buyers add an additional tree for $1 to their shopping cart. The tree purchased for $1 gets donated to an African or Latin American country.
Where is your favorite place to take your YOGO Mat and what has been the most exotic place you’ve taken your YOGO Mat?
I like camping yoga and going backpacking with my YOGO Mat. Nature is the perfect place to unwind. The most exotic place I have take the YOGO Mat so far is South East Asia.
What is your next step with YOGO?
New products! Yoga gear that is eco- friendly, and made with all sustainable materials.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned by creating your own business?
To Keep it simple and pace yourself. Stay focused on the big picture success and profitability. Then passion and connecting with the people that you wish to serve comes right after. It is important to focus on getting one product to market in one channel at a time and to be consistent with your message.
To learn more about YOGO or to purchase your YOGO Mat today visit www.yogo.net.