Have You Heard of Sankalpa Yoga Pants?
Let me preface this blog post by saying that I'm a yoga pant snob. It's true. When it comes to spandex and lycra, I've got a long list of requirements. Maybe that seems silly, but when you teach and practice yoga as much as I do, comfort, practicality, and function can be hard to come by.
Also, did I mention style? I like to have some fun with my yoga pants! Often jazzy yoga pants are not necessarily the most comfortable or practical. There have been times where I have sacrificed function for style, only to realize that my thong has been hanging out for the entirety of a yoga class or that my pants are completely see though when in down dog... whoops!
I've tried gazillions of pants and there are very few that I actually wear for teaching and practicing. That said, I'm always on the hunt for cool yoga brands that provide fresh, comfortable, and practical clothes. So when I was asked by the Sankalpa founders to check out their new line of yoga pants, I was game!
Not only are Sankalpa pants comfortable, functional, and beautiful—the story behind Sankalpa is creative and unique! Sankalpa is an eco-friendly yoga brand in California owned and operated by husband & wife team Josh and Elyse Nickell. Josh and Elyse began their company with beautifully crafted yoga mats that support both independent artists and yoga teachers. Each yoga mat is designed by an independent artist in representation of a yoga teacher. For every mat sold, the artist and teacher receive a portion of the proceeds. How cool is that?!?! After the success of Sankalpa yoga mats, Josh and Elyse decided to incorporate yoga pants into their brand; their Kickstarter campaign launches today!
Finding Isvara had the opportunity to interview Josh about their newest Sankalpa endeavor... Check it out!
Finding Isvara: Tell us about your yoga journey! What brought you to yoga? How has it impacted your life?
Josh Nickell: My first glimpse of yoga came in the late 1990s through my Dad’s DVDs. I was intrigued enough to sign up for a course co-taught by an incredible Iyengar instructor, Peggy Berg, and her philosopher husband, Jonathan Lee, my senior year of college in 2005. We practiced yoga early each morning and learned about the history and philosophy of yoga in the afternoon. This course changed my life. Although it took seven years after the course for me to establish a regular asana practice, yoga had already become the most important guiding force for my beliefs and how I wanted to conduct my life. After a few years of dedicated asana practice, I enrolled in a yoga teacher training course in Chicago where I met my beautiful wife, Elyse, and discovered Ashtanga yoga. For the past 4.5 years I’ve been an Ashtangi.
Yoga has impacted every part of my life. From how I think and feel internally to how I react to the world around me and interact with others. It affects who I choose to spend time with and literally resulted in meeting my wife. Overall, it’s made me a more conscious person.
FI: What made you want to start your company Sankalpa? Has your business been rewarding in any unexpected ways?
JN: I’d just been laid off from a job and wanted to teach yoga, but it wasn’t economically viable. I knew others like me who really wanted to teach yoga but couldn’t make it work financially.
I started Sankalpa as a way to support independent artists and yoga teachers. A different independent artist would create every design, and each design was created to represent a yoga teacher. Both the artist who created the design and the yoga teacher it represented would receive a royalty for every product sold with their design. We used beautiful physical products as a way to support the communities we love most – independent artists and yoga teachers. Artists and yoga teachers get paid for products sold, and the attention they deserve, and customers get the original and unique products they crave.
It’s been amazing to see how the universe responds when you put something out there. We’ve been embraced and lifted up by so many people. And it’s always fun to see new art come in and make payments back to our artist and yogi communities.
FI: Sankalpa is now making yoga pants! Do you have any plans to add other items, such as yoga shorts, tops, and cover ups?
JN: We’re focused strictly on pants for now, but who knows, we may do some other new products if the right opportunities come up ;).
FI: What are the top 3 qualities of Sankalpa yoga pants?
JN: 1) They support artists and yoga teachers. Every purchase directly supports a global community of independent artists and yoga teachers.
2) Multi-functional and made in the USA. They’re perfect for a vigorous workout, incredibly comfortable, great for everyday wear and definitely a conversation starter. They’re also printed, cut, and sewn right here in California.
3) Awesome print quality: We use sublimation printing and our designs look amazing in person.
FI: What makes Sankalpa pants different from other brands?
JN: 1) Awesome Artist Designed Products – A different artist creates each design and our yoga pants look amazing. Every design has it’s own unique story.
2) They Support Independent Artists and Yogis. Every purchase made directly supports the artists who created the design and the yoga teacher it represents. Most designs are created by yoga teachers and some designs are created to represent a specific yoga teacher.
3) Family Run. We’re not a giant corporation! We’re a small family run business.
FI: How do you go about choosing an artist for Sankalpa?
JN: Anyone can submit a design through our website. Our brand management team reviews all design submissions and picks the top designs for production.
FI: Do you have any funny Sankalpa stories or bloopers you could share with us?
JN: Elyse and I were working our way through a torrential downpour en route from Chicago to Louisville to pickup our first ever sample of printed yoga mats when suddenly we noticed our Toyota 4-Runner was no longer accelerating and there was a funny smell coming from the engine. Hoping to make a good first impression on our printer and with a large order of mats to pickup and haul home, we were stuck in the middle of a grueling thunderstorm in Kentucky without a functional car. The 4-Runner was towed 45 minutes away to the nearest open repair shop, where we waited 4 hours before the service team concluded our car should go to the junk yard. We cancelled the meeting with our printer, rented an SUV and didn’t arrive to Louisville until 1am. Fortunately our meeting the next day went great, and the first samples of our yoga mats looked amazing in person.
It’s been funny for me to see how so many things we set an intention and vision for actually manifest. Even with starting Sankalpa. I had the idea for starting Sankalpa for years. There was a distinct moment when I decided to actually make it happen while on my honeymoon at a pool in Key West, Florida. I’d always made excuses in the past but at that moment my wife and I decided we were just going to do it. One month later, we had a registered business and were starting to build Sankalpa. There are many other examples for us, and I think there are many others who have similar aspirations to do something amazing, but allow doubt to hold them back. At some point you have to decide you're going to dive in and get started.
Josh and Elyse were nice enough to send me a pair of Sankalpa yoga pants to try and I cannot rave enough! They held up beautifully during a rigorous practice and allowed me the freedom to focus on my breath. No pulling up, no shimmying, no pinching... Just comfort and style, in addition to being eco-friendly and altruistic. Now that's a yoga brand I can get behind!
Thank you Josh, Elyse, and Sankalpa for your incredible contribution to the yoga community. We're lucky to have you and fully support your amazing vision.
Be sure to check out the Sankalpa Kickstarter campaign! You'll be in yoga pant heaven, I promise. Much love!