Before I moved down to the Surf Coast there was one club I really wanted to join. A club that seemed to embody everything I wanted in my new life on the beach. Yoga, surfy vibes, tanned, healthy bodies, beautiful tropical feels and a whole lot of zen.
Now, I don’t do clubs any more. Not the loud music ones (even Ed Sheeran knows a club isn’t the best place) or the sporty ones (not since I was about 12 anyway) But this club, the Yogi Peace Club, is different.
I first got a taste when my sister showed up to a yoga retreat we were doing in Thailand (in preparation for my new life) toting one of the most beautiful yoga mats I’ve ever seen and wearing a gorgeous top which said “I’m coconuts about yoga”. Honestly, I hadn’t even considered mats could be a thing of beauty.
So, naturally, I fangirled on Instagram and even attempted some yoga moves. Amazingly I got a message back from Emma Barr, the brains behind the club, applauding my attempts at a back bend which I gratefully put down to her mat.
Now after following her steady rise to prominence in the yoga world over the past two years (read:- stalking her on instagram) I finally got to meet Emma.
From the outside, what looks like a massive operation with a team of people is just her. Emma is a one woman business machine.
“You just can’t outsource” she explains “because you just won’t make any money. To this point I have done absolutely everything. My own website, I’ve done all my own designs, I do a lot of my own photography. It’s only now that I’m starting to outsource some of the artwork because I want to step the brand into a new direction and I’m starting to pay for a photographer.”
So three years after starting off with some tropical incense, the company now boasts yoga mats and workout clothes, as well as incense, ships all over the world, and has it’s first employee.
But, Emma says “I’m still so small. I’m just a little business that’s growing but I can definitely see the potential for it.”
We meet at the home she shares with husband and two kids, which also houses her offices, a little of the beaten track in Jan Juc, Victoria. To say her home is a dream won’t come as a massive surprise to anyone familiar with the brand. This girl has got an eye for beautiful beach vibes and yogi serenity.
“My one word that I would use to describe Yogi Peace Club” says Emma when I start to gush over what she’s created “is that I want it to be authentic. So wherever it goes, in my opinion, I want it to have some sort of authentic reasoning behind it. I just want it to be real. I love yoga, it’s a huge part of my life. I don’t go through a day without doing some sort of yoga. “
As well as running Yogi Peace Club Emma is an instructor at Yoke Yoga in Torquay. Her passion for incorporating some sort of practice into every day is evident in her home. There’s a gorgeous Yogi Peace Club round mat (one of her standout products) set up in a room which can only be described as a sanctuary – looking out over the trees and tropical plants which surround it. The vibe is blissful. Something she wants her customers to be able to have for themselves.
“When I was growing up you wanted to wear Roxy or Esprit because you wanted to be the girl who lived that life. I want my consumers to feel like they belong to something. They’re buying into a club mentality. I love the mats, they make me feel good, they make me happy. That’s the whole premise behind the name. I want to sell something that makes people feel good”
Her pedigree has prepared her well for this. Emma rose up the ranks at Roxy, starting in sales and moving into design, then eventually heading up Australia and Asia for the company before moving to Reef. There, she learned about the use of PVC – which Reef have banned from their products for the past 15 years – a philosophy she’s carried on to her own brand.
“I wanted the mats to be PVC free. It’s a really hard plastic, like the outside of a pen. So, to soften PVC they add Phthalates. There’s just been a lot of research to suggest we should avoid them. Greenpeace are trying to ban PVC globally too. So it’s great to have a product which is made out of recycled tree rubber.”
The eco friendly yoga mats, which come in an array of stunning designs as well as either regular rectangle or round – are heavy duty and hard wearing but would eventually biodegrade naturally and won’t leach chemicals back into the earth.
“All these things were designed to make people feel good and to be part of something.” Emma says of her products “Not to try and sell you something. I want you to take it and love it. They’re the things that are important to me and why it’s the Yogi Peace Club.
The new autumn collection has just launched with the addition of cosy yoga wraps, perfect for post yoga Shavasana or a walk along the beach.