a little yinsight into YinSide and me; the journey of building a yoga brand and business here in Bali.
I am so happy you’re here! A warm welcome to my very own yintroduction… (as always, pun intended) on how the yoga became the brand…
Starting with a little about me… “what do you want to be when you grow up?” -my answer was always Fashion Designer!
My life since I can remember was equal parts active and achieve to dreamy creative; with a natural tendency to boldly follow my own direction… still relevant.
Fiercely independent, I was bored overachiever at school; if it wasn’t creative or teaching me something new I wasn’t interested. My mindset then -“Money equals freedom…” so straight from school I earned my way out of the 9-5, with a 9-5…
Life before the Yoga
Working in designer retail I fell in love with providing positive customer experiences and creative visual merchandising. –something which inspires me still today with the creation of the yinside store concept
A few years later, I remember waking up to the sparkling reality that if I stayed where I was, that was all it would ever be. There had to be something more…
So I packed up swiftly and left UK in 2003 to embark on a ski season in Italy. I had been skiing only a few times before, but it had sparked a joy I hadn’t fully explored; the lifestyle I caught a glimpse of intrigued me to experience it.
I never looked back. I followed my smiles, I explored life in all the colours and sensations I could find.
14 years and 10 countries later… My life balanced well with seasons of Winter Work and Summer Smiles..
Winters in the mountains were everything: season life was a subscription to travel, community, excitement and change; always something new to explore!
I skied a LOT and loved the freedom and movement* -this became teaching skiing and exploring all kinds of jobs; all the while studying fashion design and loving the whole process from sketch and graphic design through to fabric and production; eventually leading me to set up my own Atelier Boutique in Switzerland.
*Yinsight: Skiing and the mountains had connected me to something I now call -Soul Smiles
The Soul Smiles
Where you find moments of absolute joy that explode from your heart! I had found a connection to what I now understand a lot better -nature, breath, movement -absolute presence. It was Yoga, without the mat -or any idea of the meaning at the time.
Summers were for experience and sunshine… the natural balance to all the snow and cold… so I travelled. I explored the world, taking the random jobs I would find along the way -and a had a whole lot of fun -each experience teaching me a little more about myself and all kinds of life across the world.
Discovering Bali, and the yoga was the game changer
Summer explorations eventually delivered me to Bali, Indonesia – and yoga was everywhere! Once I dismissed my aversion to ‘doing yoga’ (or being a yoga person) -I couldn’t get enough of it!
The Yoga Obsession
The next few years were balancing winters in Switzerland and summers in Bali. A blur of yoga classes, courses, workshops, retreats and eventually multiple teacher trainings.
If I wasn’t doing yoga, I was reading about it, watching it.. absorbing it; then teaching it… and it LIT up my life! It was feeding my soul…
Then I found my Yin side…
For years it was all about the joy of teaching vinyasa yoga -the creative sequencing, powerful flows, the movement linked to breath. When I (eventually*) embraced the practice of Yin Yoga into my life -the game changed.
*My first yin yoga experiences were NOT something I remember too fondly if i’m really honest
Within Yin Yoga I discovered a whole new level of… well, everything!
In short – a process of discovery which I love to share:
Stillness – observation – awareness – appreciation – connection
Deeper connection to myself, came in the surrender to stillness *which is not a simple practice btw.. This time in stillness encouraged me to open up to my ‘inner landscape’; with a profound awareness and new found curiosity in observing…well me. The ‘me’ I had lost touch with; rediscovering my soul smiles
Why I started YinSide Yoga in Bali – the Classes and Retreats
I had found my ‘why’. And from there, life became only about creating experiences to share the beautiful practice and teachings that were still transforming my life…
Creating YinSide Yoga as a brand, started with producing the YinSide Experience Retreats -the “Journey YinSide”.
-essentially ‘naming’ my unique style of teaching and delivering yoga experiences. The exploration of the softer side of yoga; where the Yoga is never about the shape, or achieving -but finding a reconnection in the essence of receiving.
I discovered a whole new joy in welcoming souls from all over the world to experience the practice and it’s teachings in Bali; and YinSide Yoga was truly born -with Yin Yoga and Soul Smiles at its foundation.
So, how did YinSide Yoga become a Sustainable Yoga Brand?
A huge focus of the Bali retreats was to highlight and explore a connection to Nature; finding awareness and connection to self, is reflected in our appreciation of what surrounds us.
I loved finding ways I could share sustainable solutions with our guests – putting together Eco Goodie Bags for their arrival was always a fun part of my retreat planning!
The very first YinSide Yoga Branded Eco Products were produced in Bali to reduce single plastic use on our retreats; and something our guests could continue to use after their island adventures
- bamboo straws
- reusable cotton bags
- stainless steel and bamboo water bottles
The Growth and true foundation of a Sustainable Bali Yoga brand…?
This came from a long search to source sustainable props and accessories for our Bali Retreats -some of the retreat locations didn’t provide props so I decided to buy some. This unsuccessful (and frustrating) search, delivered me to the solution; designing and making my own.
What started with an idea -grew very rapidly into the foundation of YinSide Yoga – the props and products to support your yoga practice, and eventually expanded to encompass the Signature Yoga wear and lifestyle apparel.
My mindset was, “If I was searching for these products, with the Earth Friendly ethos at the heart of my wishlist… surely other people were searching too?”
Building the brand values of YinSide Yoga, all started with yogic philosophy
The principle of Ahimsa in yoga -‘non violence’ -to do no harm, which starts within (being kind to yourself) and flows effortlessly to our environment. With encouraging love for yourself & Nature at the heart of what YinSide Yoga is, this became the standard for production -across all levels
In true virgo perfectionist style – if I was going to design and produce sustainable props, they would be the MOST sustainable, functional -and beautiful props I could produce. (And I hope you love them as much a I do)
In the thoughtful process of every product is kindness -in every stage..
Choosing to use only plant based fabrics and materials is something we will never change.
Synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, acrylic have a harmful impact not only on our environment but to the people creating them. So it’s a no from me.
I strive to create yinside a brand of transparency and trust -by doing the research. By asking all the questions and sourcing the most sustainable fabrics and materials on the planet – so you don’t have to!
Making eco conscious choices easier for the consumer is at the heart of YinSide.
Where, and How the fabrics and materials are made, and Who is making them, is questioned and researched along every stage of our process.
Giving back to Bali…
One of the most important Brand Values for me while creating a brand is supporting local businesses, and giving back to the Island which has brought me so much.
All of our products are proudly produced and created in Bali, using fabrics and materials sourced in Indonesia.
Why I’m extremely proud of starting a brand during the pandemic?
There was the question to press pause…to wait it out, but in my heart there was no way I could say to my local manufacturers I wasn’t going to order anymore.
The firm foundation of producing local, has been the most rewarding part of the process for me.
One of the things I love most about creating my brand here, is connecting with and supporting our small local producers, craftsmen and manufacturers; a lot of them are individuals and families I’m so grateful to be able to support in this process. Not only financially by providing work, but with developing their awareness education of sustainable practices. Even having the personal pleasure of developing their techniques and processes alongside them.
#garmentsofgratitude -Every sale, of every product -I’m proud to say, benefits communities, people and Bali directly; and while it’s certainly been a challenge, the journey became all the more rewarding and I can’t wait to share more of this story with you!
Smiles from Bali,