Startups, Supply Chains and Samanata Yogi

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18 months ago OnP Fellow Abi Childs started her yoga clothing brand with a partner. This week she tells us about her entrepreneurial adventure.

I’ve just launched an ethical yoga clothing brand, Samanata Yogi, with my business partner, Michelle Manera.

When we first had the idea to start an ethical, yoga clothing brand little did we know what we were in for. Initially we were so excited about our project and had so many ideas about what it could be, that it distracted us from focusing on the most important aspect…our product. .

We quickly worked out though that the most important aspects of our business were our product and our supply chain. We initially wanted to base our manufacturing in India because there were some really great social enterprises working with women and, of course, it’s the home of yoga. However after much travelling, delays to the product, and disappointment with the samples we realised that trying to manage a production line remotely from across the world was too much of a stretch.We were forced to rethink everything and our focus is now on supporting local suppliers so our first products, yoga leggings, are made right here in London.

We also learnt how important it is to just get out there quickly and test our products. This process has helped us ensure that we have the right materials, patterns and designs.

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The Samanata Yogi we’ve just launched is the ethical yoga clothing brand we’d hoped it would be but done a little differently (and we think even better). W e were able to find high performance fabric that’s great for sports but is also eco-friendly and recycled from materials otherwise destined for landfill. We’ve collaborated with some incredible artists from around the world to create unique prints inspired by travel. And we’ve partnered with PROJECT FUTURES so that 10% of our profits will go to support survivors of human trafficking.

Here’s a few things we’ve learned on our startup journey:

  1. Pull out of the drive — It’s so easy to procrastinate.The number of things we focused on at the outset that simply weren’t important to getting our MVP (minimum viable product) out there was in hindsight, ridiculous. As Rob from Founder Centric put it during our Startup Tribe — “do the work, not the work around the work”.
  2. Speak to your customers (early) — In our obsession with perfection, we wanted to get everything in place before we spoke to customers. We now realise we should have been speaking to them from the beginning (before the beginning in fact). Now we’re getting out there, it’s both exciting and insightful to get feedback from customers and it’s helping us shape what we develop.
  3. Pivot (as many times as necessary!) — If things aren’t right, scrap them. As hard as it might be to accept that the thing you’ve been working on for the last year isn’t up to scratch, don’t keep flogging a dead horse. It feels good to let go and move on. Try something new and, if that one isn’t right, then the next thing might be. Keep going and DON’T GIVE UP.
  4. Find the customers that LOVE you — This group will be small initially but that’s ok you don’t need the whole world to be your biggest fan. What you need is a small group of loyal obsessives who think what you do is absolutely ace. They’ll spread the word and more people will jump on board. Which brings me on to my next point…
  5. Find your tribe — Being part of the On Purpose and Escape the City Start-up Tribe communities over the last few years has been incredible. They’rethe peeps who are most supportive when you finally take the scary leap to test that thing you’ve been talking about for ages, and hold you accountable for making it a success
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So, in summary… We know we’ve got a long way to go and that our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter is just the start, but it’s a big step forward and you have to start somewhere, right? So if you have a little idea that you’ve been wondering about, I’d say go find your tribe and go for it!

You can support Abi and her partner Michelle and check-out her pre-order campaign on Kickstarter.