#BOQ: Passion, creativity and an Inner Fire change the landscape of yoga apparel in Canada.

Inner Fire: /ˈinər/ /ˈfī(ə)r/;

  1. The part of the body located in the belly that is responsible for passion, drive and creativity.
  2. A Vancouver based and produced yoga apparel company and community, known for creating leggings made from recycled water bottles and witty tanks.

The Beginning

ainner-fire-day-1-0407Leah didn’t know what she had stumbled into when it happened. She had worked in graphic design and went to business school for marketing. By the time she started teaching yoga, she was confident she had found her place in life. But life, it turns out, had other plans. “I was teaching one night. Suddenly I had horrible abdominal pain and I was rushed to the hospital. It turned out to be an ovarian cyst that had to be operated on right away and I went straight into emergency surgery. I got out and my career was on hold; all I could do was stay at home and recover.” Restless and unable to pursue her passion, Leah decided this was an opportunity to tap into the creative side that she had put on hold. Desperate to get out of the house and do something, she took a screen printing workshop, eager to try out all the designs she had swimming in her head.

Still passionate about yoga, she used her reinvigorated creativity to create yoga props and gear, peddling them to people she knew in the tight knit Vancouver yoga community. Instead of the typical serious cuts and designs, Leah wanted clothes that made people smile. Bright designs and quirky sayings helped her stand out from other yoga companies, with her best selling shirt toting the phrase “I’m just here for the savasana”.  As students started wearing them around, the circle of people who loved her work started to grow, eventually leading to her selling product out of the studio where she worked. “From there, I just kept letting the company grow organically, I didn’t have any big goals.”

Much like her company, the name came organically as well. Since it grew out of her experience recovering from surgery, she channeled that into the company, Inner Fire. “It really did feel like when the cyst was removed out of my belly that I was able to allow my creativity to flourish; it was like a little fire got lit inside of me.” That fire has been flourishing and growing ever since. Starting out in her father’s living room and sewing everything by hand just under four years ago, Leah has come a long way with her simple concept of creating fun, accessible yoga wear, which is why we wanted Inner Fire as our #BrandsOnQ.

The Brand

After about a year in business, Leah realized that it was time to move her project out of her dad’s living room and move her brand into a shared commercial space. She also decided that it was time to commit fully to Inner Fire, making it her full-time job and expanding the line. From screen printed shirts, she eventually added leggings after finding a fabric that could be produced locally and sustainably using recycled plastic ainner-fire-day-2-0554water bottles.

Sustainable and local production has always been an important part in the development of Inner Fire. Producing locally has allowed Leah to build a relationship with her production team and create her product on an individualized scale. As her company expands at unpredictable rates, she works with the team to create orders on demand instead of months in advance. This also allows her to play with designs, learning what will sell and what her customers will like without having to rely on predictions. They still continue to print in house, with Leah creating new designs and patterns twice a year.

The core values of the company are simple and are brought into every decision they make:

  1. Respect for the environment;
  2. Outreach to the local community;
  3. Giving back to the global community;
  4. Promoting peace and positivity through mindfulness.

To spread the word on these core values, Leah focused on bringing Inner Fire beyond the brand, creating a community of support.

The Luminaries

ainner-fire-day-1-0415The Luminary program is Inner Fire’s ambassador program, or as Leah calls them “front line super-fans.” Beyond promoting the product itself, the Luminaries are a support network for each other, the brand and the community at large.

Knowing that her Luminaries are all individuals with their own goals, careers and dreams, she allows them to use Inner Fire as a platform to get the word out about what they care about. She also gives them amazing prizes, such as trips, festivals and experiences where they can bond with each other. “Every time I spend time with them, I realize that they are all kind of becoming best friends with each other and developing really cool relationships.”

From a brand perspective, the Luminaries program aims to build a strong brand loyalty. But to Leah, Inner Fire is about more than that. “The brand isn’t just me anymore, it’s evolved. It’s a community and I try to focus on guarding and building those relationships. If there is any way that I can help them go where they want to go in their life, it just produces more happiness.” At its core, that simple message is what Leah strives to send out with every aspect of Inner Fire. Produce more happiness (and leggings! Leggings help too!).

Looking for more brands we love? Check out our past #BOQs!

View More: http://rachelbarkman.pass.us/inner-fire


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