KAT PITHER: FOUNDER OF YOGI BARE
What was it that lead you to start Yogi-Bare?
Yogi Bare was born out of putting the little monster called “self doubt” on my knee and asking it; Why did you feel so insecure in that Yoga Workshop? And then giving that monster enough confidence to turn into a rebel!
I remember being so excited to attend a yoga weekend workshop, I was so nervous as I was attending alone and at the time was relatively new to yoga and didn’t have any friends who were into it. However the magical thing I had been quietly discovering and healing through was suddenly turned upside down when I left the first day feeling like I didn’t belong. I didn’t go back but equally I continued to learn and discover and eventually started to attract my kind of tribe. Years later as a teacher I had a new student emailing me before class and echoing my old worries from that workshop: “I won’t fit in” The rebel in me woke up.
In my heart I felt Yoga should remain accessible, fun and full of magic and delight, not comparison, competition, staid or elitism. So I got to work. 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 something that was not the Yoga I wanted to know. I wanted to inject personality to a world that can sometimes seem alien or 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.
For anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t belong or doubted that they’d fit in. You don’t have to. This is for the rebels.
Has the fixation with social media and the pursuit of the perfect image been a positive or negative attribute for the practice of yoga?
A bloody awful one! Yoga is a feeling, not a pose. Sure the poses are beautiful, like art and I know its allowed some incredible Yogi's to bloom in confidence as they explore their creativity, their art, their photography. But you can’t actually take a picture of Yoga, Yoga is the sweet surrender as you feel yourself let go in the bliss of savassana, Yoga is the girl who hides in the toilets having panic attacks remembering slow inhales and exhales and being able to feel like she’s got herself when she needs to be her own hero, Yoga is the flicker of unguarded emotion across the face of man who bottles up his feelings, Yoga is lightness and weightlessness, Yoga is feeling safe in a room full of strangers, Yoga is clarity in a whirlwind, Yoga is walking and being walked home. Its connection, with yourself and in turn with others. You’ll never be able to trap its magic in a lens and I don’t think I’d want to be able to. Appreciate the art but don’t fall for the art, instead dip your hands in paint and revel in creating your own canvas.
How does sustainability play a part in your business?
Very much so. 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. Thats so important to me, that Yogi Bare comes from a happy place, from the day the idea for 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 thats 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, Luna Paws, donates to the ocean by supporting the work of Sea Shepherd.
Ultimate high and ultimate low of running a business?
Did you ever have a Tamagotchi growing up? It was a little computerised pet on a key chain whose demands you had to take care of constantly. It starts slow, the demands are manageable but as it grows the demands start to stack up and it all gets a little crazy, until you want to take the batteries out or yours fall out with exhaustion. Running a business is pretty much the same thing!! I’ve suffered with acute anxiety and there’s been extended periods of dancing with doubt, doing the tango with terror and a little bump and grind with burn out. I can accidentally be a bit of a Houdini when I get overwhelmed or absorbed in my work and had to cancel on plans or not been the friend I hope to be. In those times all we can be is kind to ourselves and honest to others. Im still learning this.
However a wise friend once told me as long as the positive outweighs the negative, relax and keep going with it. That couldn’t be more true - with anything there is light and dark, thats what makes a painting beautiful - composition. And there are so many positives! My favourites are the self belief Yogi Bare has brought me, I really feel like I’m becoming myself, doing business as myself - silly, unprofessional and not very business like at all, I feel like I’m starting to have my own back. Creative freedom is a big one I keep looking over my shoulder as though I have to ask an “adult” “Am I allowed to do this?” Then I realise I’m the boss and if I dream it I can make it happen if I want to. And finally the best one of all, a like minded community - from the people supporting and choosing and sharing with Yogi Bare online and in person, to the collective of wonderful friends and girl bosses I’ve met, there are only words. Only love.
What’s your sustainability pledge for the future?
To be connected to the real. We’ve plonked a very strange, very fake “world" on top of Mother Earth. A “world” which invented a single use substance that can’t break down. A “world” which values new new new, now now now. Everything seems disposable and to serve an instant gratification. Its not our fault, we were born into these norms but I feel like its all so fast. When we slow down, we see things for what they are, we connect with and see the nature underneath it all. And once we see it again, it can’t be unseen and we don’t want to hurt it. Slowing down also helps us make better choices in all aspects of our lives, including remembering our keep cups and realising that the weird neon dress that the internet is telling us we need isn’t really us and we don’t need it to be more. Better choices build into a kind rebellion. My sustainability pledge is to slow down to write the new normal.
We started Stay Wild Swim because of our passion for the ocean. How would you describe your relationship with the ocean?
Im absolutely delighted to announce the launch of Luna Paws this April. Ive been working on Luna since last summer and its the mat I’ve always wanted to create. The design is deeply inspired by the ocean and its relationship with the moon, the land and ourselves. When story boarding the launch video I really wanted to show that relationship between the rise and fall of our breath and the draw in and out of the tide because its my favourite love story and I believe that the symmetry between the two is undeniable. The ocean is so powerful, yet so calm and we can learn so much from its secrets. The spoken word that lies across the video was quite emotional for me to write. We don’t see the tiny fragments and rain drops as powerful or beautiful in the way we see the ocean and yet the ocean is created and the sum of these parts, just as we see ourselves as small and insignificant, we underestimate all that we are and all that we will become. I lived by the sea for many years and it will forever be one of my favourite places, whenever I feel overwhelmed or trapped I close my eyes and imagine the tide and my breath just falls in sync. Inhale, exhale.
Thank you so much to Kat for this beautiful interview and her uplifting and inspiring words.
Get your Yogi Bare mats from www.yogi-bare.com