Peace, love and harmony have always been associated with the practice of yoga, but rarely have they been translated into a full-scale activewear business venture, and a successful one at that.
This story first appeared in the January 15, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Maria Taylor, the force behind Shakti Shanti Yoga Wear, hit upon the idea of creating her own line of yogawear upon her return to South Africa in 2002 after training as a yoga teacher overseas.
“I went out in search of clothing in which I could maintain comfort, support, my modesty and feel and look good whilst in my moving yoga meditation,” she says. Unable to find what she wanted, she started her own line, bearing in mind that dynamic yoga had many requirements that other activewear could not always meet. She also wanted her yogawear to work for other sports.
Taylor wasn’t satisfied with a line that simply performed. “Being dedicated to and passionate about yoga,” she says, “I wanted to uphold every yogic principle in my business and in my life.”
“I wanted this range to ooze yoga, so that when I, or other women, put on a Shakti Shanti garment, we would feel so good about ourselves, so comfortable, so supportive, so loved that we would be able to access our peaceful energy without restraints and restrictions.”
The name Shakti Shanti was an important choice: It means ‘powerful peace’ in Sanskrit. “It represents the complete love and respect for our unique union of body, mind and breath at this moment, the only moment in the world that matters,” Taylor says.
Made in South Africa from the highest quality partly organic cotton spandex and viscose, each design is inspired by and named after a specific yoga pose.
The line is produced under strict adherence to the yoga principles of ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha. In plain English, these simply mean conducting business in an ethical manner, with respect, honesty and integrity in all transactions and communications.
It might sound lofty and idealistic, but for Taylor and her Shakti Shanti line, being true to yoga has paid off. Even without an active marketing department, Taylor says, “the market found me.” Today, Shakti Shanti is available at select yoga studios in Japan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and the U.S., as well as Taylor’s native South Africa, where it is sold in the Young Designers Emporium chain of stores.
Shakti Shanti seems poised to weather the current financial storm. “It has not bothered my business at all,” she says. “On the contrary: We are consistently growing. I believe it is due to the quality of the product and the pure energetic intention behind it.”