A Gold Coast entrepreneur, who recently completed the Bond Business Accelerator program, is set to shake-up the yoga industry with the launch of a new social enterprise.
39-year-old yoga instructor Judes Yang developed start-up Sahaja Yoga Mats - hitting the market earlier this year with the aim of funding solar lights for families in Mozambique.
“The whole brand is based around giving. My motivation is to drive social change, and I love that our customers are involved in that process too,” she said.
“The aim of Sahaja Yoga Mats is to make a positive contribution to the community through a range of initiatives, including the solar lights project and free yoga classes for victims of family violence, supported by the RizeUp Australia community.
“I was inspired to build the brand following a personal battle with post traumatic stress disorder. My family and friends provided the light I needed during those dark times, and I now want to pay it forward by giving light to others, such as families in Mozambique who are struggling to fulfil basic household needs.
“We think globally and act locally. When you purchase a Sahaja Yoga Mat, you aren’t just buying a mat; you are helping make a difference to another person’s life.”
Since launching Sahaja in March, Ms Yang has already sold more than 150 mats, which are stocked at several retail outlets on the Gold Coast and interstate.
“The printed mats are inspired by geometry and yoga philosophy. The designs help foster natural alignment to support the student during practice,” said Ms Yang.
“The mats include extra padding and length, allowing the yogi to train comfortably in a range of studios.
“It was also important to me to build a brand that was sustainable, so the mats are made from recyclable rubber and printed with water-based ink.
“I bumped into a lady at the gym who had one of my mats, and I told her that I was the designer. It was so humbling and satisfying to find out how happy she was with the product.”
Ms Yang launched the company before enrolling in Bond University's Bond Business Accelerator program - a 12-week course that provides practical skills for start-ups and existing businesses to commercialise.
“It has made a big difference to my business," she said.
"I was so passionate about the concept, but I was also scared of failure when I launched Sahaja. The course has given me the confidence to recognise new opportunities and to back my brand.
"It has inspired me to think differently, given me the courage to change my distribution model and provided me with the knowledge needed to develop a global business that has the potential to make a big impact, which has always been my goal.”
Ms Yang’s innovative social enterprise was awarded $5,000 in seed funding, after she pitched the start-up to an industry panel at the Bond Business Accelerator Demonstration Day. She will also get the opportunity to present at leading entrepreneurial event, Bond University Gold Coast Demo Day.
Bond Business Accelerator program leader Dr Baden U’Ren said Ms Yang’s early success demonstrates how the course helps entrepreneurs transform their ideas into reality.
“Social enterprises don’t just have to be not-for-profit organisations. Like Sahaja, they can present a profitable business model while delivering social value,” he said.
“Judes clearly identified her target market, and her product combines performance features with passion and purpose, adding another level of value to customers.
"It’s another example of how the Bond Business Accelerator (BBA) helps students and existing small businesses successfully develop their concept and business structure, so they are in a position to launch or elevate their start-up.
"BBA students are also given access to a host of academics, mentors and business leaders who know first-hand the trials and triumphs of start-ups, equipping students with a strong entrepreneurial network and a keen understanding of what it takes to succeed in a global marketplace."