by Lauren Balefsky
My dad told me to “be happy,” and my Mom told me to “make my passion my career.” Sound familiar and slightly unrealistic? I took these simple guidelines and, after some trial and error, chose the career of “yoga teacher.” If you also practice Bikram Yoga, you can understand how this yoga became my obsession, and in turn my passion. I thought my calling was to teach yoga. I had found happiness and passion. I was set for life…sort of.
Some people are completely content to just teach yoga, but not this is necessarily true of a BIKRAM Yogi.
Allow me to introduce myself: I am an overly emotional, type-A, perfectionist with a degree from Northwestern University. (Though now that I am a yoga teacher those qualities are much less intrusive in my life). Are you relating yet?
I soon discovered that to make my yogi euphoria last for a lifetime, I would have to take it to the next level. I started truly dreaming. THIS is what my parents meant. I realized in order to be successful you must allow yourself to find greatness in the passions you possess. I started by asking the universe for something more that involved yoga.
Bikram Yoga became the facilitator of my dreams, instead of being my dream.
I searched the jobs online, and opened myself to new possibilities. In early 2010, I got a call from my friend Miriam from Teacher Training. A fellow Los Angeles resident and a second mother to me, she was starting a clothing line with her daughter based around a simple one-piece leotard. She knew that I loved wearing one-pieces and immediately asked that I be involved.
Onzie was born.
Let me tell you about my fashion history. In high school I was the girl that did not quite fit in. When everyone shopped at J Crew, I would find black shiny leggings and a cool top from a trendy store. It wasn’t that I lacked style, I just did not conform to the “norm.”
This repeated itself in my yoga practice.
The day I decided to do the Southern CA competition three years ago, I went to a dance store to buy a leotard. Since I was not a dancer I was not used to the fit. I immediately loved the sleek feeling of practicing in a one-peice but was uncomfortable with the high cut bodice.
I started buying a size bigger so that I could pull the bottom of the leotard down to make it look like a 50’s bathing suit. Compliments poured in. At the time, I had to explain that I was adjusting a dance leotard, but not anymore. Onzie has answered my yoga prayers.
Onzie is bringing back the original Bikram Yoga “costume” in a modern way. Starting small we designed two styles, a “classic” and “shortie” leotard in one size with to slowly add new styles. To flatter all body types, we used solid colours and breathable, durable, Free Flow Fabric. This fast-drying material keeps yogis feel cool and comfortable throughout class.
Our debut was at the International Yoga Competition this past year: a perfect launch platform. We attracted a lot of women, young and old, that were curious about practicing in a one-piece. Many girls tried it and were pleasantly surprised. We collected feedback on sizing, cut, color, lining and alternative style options. Being new to the fashion industry, I was surprised how one must be on their toes. With all this feedback we got right to work designing prototypes and quickly turned around to launch the official spring/summer line within weeks.
Miriam’s garage (no joke) became a makeshift showroom, office and shipping center. Since April 2010, we have sold out of that line! You can spot the Onzie brand all over the US and Canada. Our fall/winter line comes out November 1st, 2010! (You can view it on www.theonzie.com)
The inspiration behind Onzie will always be the classic women’s yoga costume, but we decided to branch out even more. We want our women to feel comfortable, cute, and excited when they wear our collection. We have already added a bandeau top and matching shorts per requests of customers.
Our fall collection includes more modest selections for women who don’t want to show too much skin, as well as a new short for the men. We are learning more about yogis who inspire us. We visited teacher training and talked to so many types of women from all over the world. Each of them had ideas and opinions. Most importantly, they were so happy to get a new outfit. It seems so juvenile, but I know that feeling! I love yoga, fashion, and making people feel good! Onzie is an outlet for all three.
I hold high expectations for the future of our small clothing business. I believe in our cause. The three of us love what we do. Each day presents new challenges, ideas, and careful investment. I never feel that hours are wasted pursuing sales and making contacts. I love meeting new people, especially Bikram Yogis, all over the world!
Onzie was a blessing that came because I opened myself up to greatness. If you are looking to start a business, whether in the fashion industry or not, it is important to dream big. Anything is possible, especially when you have Bikram Yoga on your side.
5 tips to help you start your own clothing line:
1.Think of a niche that is missing in the current market, or a way you can bring back an old trend.
2.Have a partner. It is always good to have a sounding board for new ideas.
3.Get feedback. Do not be afraid to ask for help and ask potential customers what they want!
4.Prepare a 5-year plan. Plan to NOT make your main income from this business right away. It takes time to build a network.
5.Use the Internet! Modern technology is mainly free and there is so much opportunity out there.
Lauren Balefsky, Onzie Sales Manager