Yes — Its Made in the USA.

Rishi Bali
4 min readJul 3, 2014

I often hear the saying in corporate America — “Its not personal, its strictly business.” The quote is often attributed to Mario Puzo’s work, “The Godfather” where characters sought to separate themselves from the “business.”

Today, the concept of “its not personal, its strictly business” seems foreign and outdated. For me, business is very personal.

In 2010, my sister Tapasya Bali and I founded a yoga-inspired athletic apparel manufacturing company. We called the company YOGASMOGA. The challenge of building a company that manufactures high-quality technical apparel that consumers could touch, feel, and work out in seemed particularly appealing to us.

I was born in India in the foothills of the Himalayas and spent my formative years in the region generally considered to be the birthplace of yoga. I have now spent half my life in India and the other half in New York City. I attended college in New York and subsequently worked in corporate America for a significant period of time. I am particularly fortunate to experience two distinct cultures — one old and seeped in history and the other modern, dynamic and fast- paced — each having its distinct set of core values.

In today’s world, business and manufacturing is globalized. Globalization has caused us to become interconnected but also interdependent. Manufacturing that used to happen in our backyards has shifted to factories thousands of miles away. One industry that has particularly embraced globalization is apparel.

Many consumers don’t realize that every piece of clothing that is made all over the world is stitched together by a human: regardless of brand, every piece of clothing generally goes through the same labor-intensive stitching process. Labor at times accounts for 50 percent the cost of manufacturing apparel and brands have made it their business to chase cheap labor globally. Country by country, cheap labor is being hunted — China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka — it doesn’t really matter so long as the labor is cheap and plentiful.

As YOGASMOGA started manufacturing, we too were faced with the challenge of solving for the supply chain. We wanted to be environmentally friendly and wanted to locate our manufacturing close to home. We set up in a factory in Central America. Even though the factory was in our time zone, we found the set up to be operationally inefficient. We seemed to be spending way too much time looking at NAFTA/CAFTA tax regulations.

Certainly there had to be a better way of doing things, a way to manufacture high-quality product domestically. As we engaged with U.S. factories, we saw domestic factories left to die by brands that had moved their manufacturing offshore. We saw this as an opportunity to engage highly qualified technicians that had a lot of experience but not enough work.

As we peeled back the layers of global supply chains, it was increasingly clear that the dependence on cheap labor actually seemed to come at a very heavy price. In April 2013, U.S. brands were reported to be manufacturing in a sweatshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh; which collapsed killing 1,129 people, and injuring an additional 2,515 individuals. It is widely considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history. Additionally, brands manufacturing in cheap labor environments have faced significant quality control issues leading to millions of dollars of product losses and serious erosion of brand equity.

As we moved YOGASMOGAs production to be Made in the USA, our operation got simpler and we spent quality time in our factories. Consumers overwhelmingly supported our decision to manufacture a quality and technically advanced performance yoga apparel domestically. We feel a sense of achievement that we are doing our part to stimulate the domestic economy, hire individuals at our headquarters in New York City and also in all of our various factories.

We realize that the decisions we make as a company have serious consequences for families and individuals. There is a certain satisfaction to be had to revive factories that have been abandoned and are on their last leg.

Workers that are making YOGASMOGA apparel domestically have health insurance and 401(k) plans. On the face of it, it may seem cheaper for an apparel maker to do its manufacturing halfway around the world, but look closely, and you see that the cheap labor comes with significant risks. It is a burden we at YOGASMOGA understand and are not willing to take. We make a highly technical product and our culture and core values don’t permit us to cut corners.

Business for us has been and continues to be personal.

As we approach this Fourth of July, I feel extremely proud to lead a team based domestically in the United States that researches and develops it, designs it, manufactures it, dyes it, cuts it, stitches it, packs it and ships it—so consumers can enjoy it.

Made in America is a lens that reflects our human values. It’s a value worth fighting for and something that consumers continue to appreciate and support. Look closer, go deeper, consider the clothes you wear. In life, sometimes it’s as simple as the choices we make.

Rishi Bali is the founder and chief executive officer of YOGASMOGA, a designer, manufacturer and retailer of yoga-inspired athletic apparel and accessories. YOGASMOGAs apparel is designed in New York City and Made in the USA, and is sold online at . Bali is a both a citizen of the United States of America and an Overseas Citizen of India.

Rishi Bali

Entrepreneur — inspired by impactful solutions to large, systemic problems, which entails looking beyond the obvious. Founder — Mor Preventative Technologies.