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Startup Spotlight: YOGiiZA


Photo by Walter Michot/Miami Herald



Headquarters: Miami Beach

Concept: YOGiiZA is an organic, athletic, yoga-inspired clothing brand. Its mission is to give people a choice of clothing that reflects yoga values.

Story: YOGiiZA, Organic Clothing for Organic People, was started by husband-wife team Mark and Dawn Oliver. “Being a yoga instructor, I noticed the trend in yoga apparel was on the rise, but none of this clothing was being made with ecological awareness,” Mark Oliver said. “Other brands claiming to represent yoga are selling clothing that is in direct contrast to what the yoga teachers wearing the clothes are preaching.” Oliver noted that the polyester fabrics typically used in athletic clothing aren’t natural, and don’t breathe — so the avid yoga practitioners and teachers created their own. “As Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world,’ ” Mark Oliver said.

YOGiiZA’s collection is made with organic cotton sourced from Peru, Nicaragua and other parts of South and Central America. YOGiiZA is sold primarily online at www.yogiiza.com, Amazon and other sites as well as at selected luxury hotels, spas and yoga studios across the country.

Launched: 2013.

Management team: Mark, who has an entrepreneurial background and studied and taught yoga for two decades, and Dawn, who has 10 years of sales and marketing experience in the luxury travel industry.

Number of employees: Six.

Website: www.yogiiza.com.

Financing: YOGiiZA was started with private funds of $250,000 and an undisclosed angel investment. The founders are raising another round of investment.

Recent milestones: Approved as a vendor for a major distributor for Universal Companies, serving more than 25,000 luxury hotel spas around the country. Clothing featured on the cover of Golf Digest worn by Paulina Gretzky, as well as in Vogue, Shape and other publications. Attracted more than 22,000 Facebook fans. Secured angel investment.

Biggest startup challenge: “One of our biggest challenges has been continuing to surround ourselves with the right people that have the enthusiasm, dedication and spirit necessary to help support our mission and ride the wave of a startup,” Mark Oliver said.

Next steps: Expanding to Brazil by 2015 and opening in eight major U.S. cities. Working on a community-based website and mobile platform. “We are also focused on expanding our men’s products, as this segment has proven to be very lucrative,” Mark Oliver said.

Advisor’s view: Ian Bonde, a partner of Endure Ventures, an early-stage investment firm focused on healthcare and wellness companies in the United States and Brazil, said he was attracted to YOGiiZA’s potential within its niche market and its go-to-market strategy through differentiated e-commerce and wholesale channels.

“Lack of focus, in my opinion, is one of the key reasons behind entrepreneurial failures. Over the last year, YOGiiZA has focused on building a solid foundation for growth — establishing an efficient supply chain, building up their team and management systems, as well as closing some key sales accounts,” Bonde said. “Of course we plan on expanding our business nationally and internationally, but we are also cautious about not biting off more than we can chew. In terms of wholesale distribution, we are targeting two to three additional regional markets in the U.S. this coming year, and will continue expanding our e-commerce footprint.”