Signal Mountain women start business from the yoga mat up

Signal Mountain women start business from the yoga mat up

A business to help people believe

November 3rd, 2015 by Mitra Malek in Business Around the Region

Margaret Smith and Carrie Fowler have invented Mantra Spot stickers with inspirational writing. The stickers are designed to be placed on yoga mats.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Everybody needs reminders, sometimes even to breathe. Also to forgive and to stay in the present moment, among other life-propelling affirmations.

Signal Mountain residents Carrie Fowler and Margaret Smith recognized that. The yoga practitioners also knew the focused periods they spent on their yoga mats were ideal for absorbing aphorisms.

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My Mat My Mantra was born in the yoga studio, Smith says of the company she and Fowler founded in 2013. The company's signature "Mantra Spots" — with directives such as those mentioned above — were originally intended for yoga mats, a place where practitioners could draw their eyes to be gently brought back to a theme of their choosing. Today, the small, spiritually suggestive stickers also come in adhesive that allows them to stick to other surfaces.

In 2014, the company partnered with Wanderlust, one of the largest yoga festivals, printing 6,000 stickers that were placed in event venues to identify where festival-goers should put their mats for optimal spacing. My Mat My Mantra designed some stickers, while Wanderlust designed others. The company worked with Wanderlust again this year. My Mat My Mantra has its own designs, but custom ones can be built through the company's website, mymatmymantra.com.

It took about $10,000 to get My Mat My Mantra going, $5,000 from each of them, Fowler and Smith said. They declined to share their company's revenue but said that for this calendar year through August it has doubled compared with all of calendar year 2014.

Their office is Smith's living room, and the two are the company's only employees. A graphic designer in California, Bekka Reese, helped with initial sticker design, website graphics and color palettes. Chattanooga company Craftique Manufacturing handles production. Fowler, 43, and Smith, 45, both mothers, were homemakers when they launched the company. They turned to the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, among other resources, for guidance. The company has about 40 retail accounts across the nation and in Austria, Canada, Malaysia and Switzerland, Fowler and Smith said. Most are yoga studios.

It took a year of tests to create an adhesive that would hold up in hot temperatures (for hot yoga practice) and a material that could be rolled and unrolled (as a yoga mat is). "It's been to a lab and baked in an oven," Smith said. Vinegar and baking soda will remove the stickers' adhesive residue.

Fowler's first sticker read "commit." "Truthfully," she said, "I still have that mat."


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