On the up Fred Heritage · 15 August 2016
Meet the Bristol yoga studio selling ethical leggings made from recycled plastic bottles
Having worked in IT for most of his career, Ed Wood fancied a change of direction training to become a yoga teacher five years ago. In 2012, he established his own business, launching Bristol-based hot yoga firm Yogafurie. Wood now employs eight staff operating two busy studios and has recently partnered with US ethical yoga wear brand Yoga Democracy to be the first UK retailer of a pioneering item of recycled clothing leggings made entirely out of plastic bottles. Business Advice caught up with Wood to find out why he struck up the partnership, and whether it has helped put his small business on the map in one of the UK’s most popular yoga destinations. (1) HI Ed, tell us about your business Yogafurie. Weve been in business for over four years. Ive got a background in IT, but I was never 100 per cent sold on that line of work. I decided to train as a yoga teacher and Yogafurie took off after I worked as a freelance teacher for a while. Ive always taught hot yoga it’s a lot more satisfying than IT work. (2) What’s been key in terms of launching the brand? We are based in Bristol, which is one of the UK’s most popular destinations for yoga, so it’s been important to stand out from the crowd. Our unique selling point has always been hot yoga, so we try to offer the best hot yoga classes around. Our customers also appreciate our authenticity. Holistic therapies often promise you the world, claiming to have found the elixir of life Yogafurie just offers simple, quality yoga sessions. ?(3)?Tell me about your partnership with Yoga Democracy. The majority of our client base is female, and most women that come to yoga wear colourful sports clothing. We decided we wanted to start selling yoga wear, but wanted to source an ethical manufacturer, in line with our values. My wife spent months trawling the internet looking for the right producer before finding Yoga Democracy. Were currently the only UK retailer of Yoga Democracy leggings, which are made from recycled fibres polyester derived from 100 per cent post-consumer? material, namely recycled plastic bottles. (4) Has it helped put Yogafurie on the map? it’s been an important part of being able to grow the business, definitely. We wanted to stand out from the crowd and sell exciting, colourful products. We knew that developing partnerships with suppliers we liked would help us to grow, and weve been proved right. Our success with Yoga Democracy has encouraged us to seek further partnerships with local cooperatives to stock other items, including t-shirts and health foods. I think the partnership has also helped to distinguish ourselves. The leggings are designed in the US with material from Italy, so there’s nothing much like it in the UK. (5) Would you recommend striking up a similar partnership to other small business owners? I would say it is probably one of the best strategies for drawing in more customers and improving footfall. Weve seen more people coming to our classes in recent months, but it’s hard to judge the extent to which that’s down to the leggings. Being the retailer of a colourful range of ethical yoga wear definitely helps in terms of social media attracting people to the brand that way. Our online profile has improved hugely by posting colourful, attractive images of the leggings. Once we have our ecommerce sit up and running, we envisage our sales figures improving hugely too.
ABOUT THE EXPERTFred Heritage
Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.