SNEWS Qs: The Om Collection provides clothing for the yoga lifestyle, not just the studio

: SNEWS chats with Katie Armstrong, founder of yoga clothing company the Om Collection
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Nobody wants to have a million bags with them at all times: A bag for yoga, a bag with regular clothing, plus cosmetics and toiletries.

In previous seasons we’ve seen a merging of active apparel that is also fashionable. The Om Collection, based in Boulder, Colo., offers pieces that are both of those things and add an element of individuality.

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The company, which was founded three years ago, creates eco-friendly, stylish clothing for yoga practitioners.

Founded by a former attorney who lived and practiced yoga in Bali, the woman-run company takes the principles of yoga and applies them to clothing. Katie Armstrong chats with SNEWS about creating functional clothing that appeals to every fashionable yogi.

“What we provide are beautiful artistic options that also work for high-level practice,” Armstrong said. “It’s athlete’s clothing that translates into their lifestyle.”

Tell us about the history of your company?
I’ve been a yoga practitioner for over 12 years practicing yoga all over the world. I came to this position as an attorney who practiced yoga and who was a professional athlete looking for clothes that could travel the world with me and be used for lifestyle.

The line developed organically and was picked up by yoga teachers. We built our business around yoga teachers and yoga festivals, which allowed us to have face-to-face time with our customers and allowed us to see what people really need and want.

What have been some of the challenges in getting your business started?
Because I try to offer versatility, and because we’re offering unusual looks for people, as we start out we don’t feel comfortable making huge numbers of runs.

We specialize in having eco fabrics and making sure all our policies are very humanitarian in the sense that we work to produce in the U.S. and not choosing the inexpensive options.

Also, educating our consumer about what exactly they’re purchasing: Artistic clothing, environmentally conscious clothing and fair-trade clothing.

Why is supply chain management (i.e. sustainability, U.S.-made) important to the yoga consumer?
Yogis are aware of the fact that they’re not wanting to cause harm. That’s a big principle of yoga – not causing harm to the environment or to the workers that make the product. We just did a blog recently on the toxicity of dyes in the clothing and of producing non-organic cotton.

The other products that we’re making are made from 100 percent recycled plastic water bottles people started buying initially because of the look of them.

We’re hoping to tap into the "Made in the USA" consumer appeal, which I do think has spread more rapidly in the general mainstream because people are excited to see things made in the USA.

Are the pieces of the products made in the USA. all sourced here as well?
They are sewn, printed and the fabrics are, at least in part, manufactured in the U.S. I can’t speak to where the recycling itself is happening. We’re expanding the line considerably and looking to move some of our natural-fiber products in the U.S.

Living in Bali and doing yoga and working with some families on humanitarian issues are the reasons I started making my clothes in Indonesia, but unlike some mass-produced Indonesian products, we have two families who sew for us. It’s the women who run the businesses and make sure the funds go to school and food for the kids. It’s helping them stabilize the economy by helping them maintain a traditional job role and empowering women and helping kids go to school.

I’m hoping to find something similar in the U.S. I’m now talking with more vets and retirees about people from generations that have sewing experience or who need to find a new profession because they’ve been disabled. We’re trying to set up a factory in the U.S.

What do you enjoy most about running your business?
The creativity and the people, the opportunity to do photo shoots and design clothes. The ability to teach people how to feel beautiful and comfortable in their bodies. I’ve met every one of my customers and we really are trying to, through our website and blogs, videos and ambassador program, stay connected to our customers.

This is more than just fashion, but an opportunity to live an authentic yoga and conscious lifestyle.

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