Annie Appleby: “Figure out what your passion is and do it. If it does not work, ask a friend to tell you what you are good at. Then try that one out. Something will take.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Annie Appleby. Annie is the Founder and CEO of YogaForce®. Her brand has been featured in more than 50 TV Shows and Motion Pictures including SAVE THE LAST DANCE, BEAUTIFUL, SEX AND THE CITY, THE TONIGHT SHOW and THE BIG BANG THEORY. Her patented YogaForce A-Line Mat has helped many people improve their yoga and Pilates practice.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I worked as a liaison between the marketing and legal departments at Paramount Pictures for the Home Entertainment Division. It was fun until it wasn’t. Harassment was not an issue back then. You just had to work hard and keep your head down. My boss had a remote lock on his door. He just pushed a button on his desk and you were locked in. I fought him in the HR Department but they were incompetent, and I cashed out my 401k and left. Not my fault. Nothing I could do about it back in the 1990’s.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
My very first job after that was working as an Extra on FORREST GUMP. I showed up about three days on set at about 4 am. I was asked to stay… with lines. I remember saying “ No. I need some sleep. People are coming from San Francisco to visit and who is ever going to watch a movie called FORREST GUMP?” My fault. Total idiot! I clearly should have stuck with it. I wish someone would have told me that was the best way to get a SAG card. I should have done it just for that.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Yes. See above. I could have been an actress. I had the opportunity to talk to Tom Hanks in the movie FORREST GUMP. Funny. Sad.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am selling YogaForce and I am also getting speaking gigs for Mike Reiss, who is the lead writer and producer for The Simpsons. He has also authored 19 children’s books. He is a four-time Emmy winner who has also written for the Ice Age, Despicable Me, and Kung Fu Panda movie franchises.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Many. I would not know where to begin.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Figure out what your passion is and do it. If it does not work, ask a friend to tell you what you are good at. Then try that one out. Something will take.
I started getting really passionate about YOGA! So, take your passion and make it happen. I did. I started YogaForce® in 1995. I was young and cute and I could not get anyone with a business background to take me seriously, until I single-handedly sold my line to about 400 stores including, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
I am good at PR. One person I did get to help me back then was a friend who was also the CEO of Steinway Piano. He said, “I think you need some PR. Go out and interview with the top 5 PR Firms.” I did and came back with expensive proposals. He asked me who was best. I told him and he asked, “So what will they do for us?” I told him that they could get us on TV shows and movies. He said. “OK, Annie call on the TV shows first. I think you can to it.” I didn’t even know I could be good at PR, he did and I am so glad he taught me that lesson. I saved so much money! I got my clothing brand, YogaForce on more than 50 top TV shows and Motion Pictures, including: SEX AND THE CITY, MAD ABOUT YOU, CLUELESS, THE TONIGHT SHOW, MAD ABOUT YOU. (see more at www.yogaforce.com)
Lastly, I never knew if yoga would still be going strong in 2019. ( I had an idea, I was a sociology major at UC Berkeley and I was trained how to spot a trend.) I wish someone would have told me how big the market would be and about how many big companies would go after the growing popularity of yoga. But, I did keep going in 2005 when I had relocated from LA to San Francisco, I patented an alignment mat called the YogaForce A-Line, and it was an instant hit. I sold to every single door of THE SHARPER IMAGE and got the mat reviewed in TIME Magazine.
Phil Schlein, a leading Venture Capitalist, helped me reach that dream. I could never have done it without his help. Thanks to Dana Messina, the CEO of Steinway, who pushed me to do PR on my own, I also got the Mat on every single episode of seasons 10, 11 and 12 of THE BIG BANG THEORY. Now, I am selling the company. Lots of players are in this game now. I wonder what will happen next.