In 2014 my soul mate and I sold, donated or gifted nearly everything we owned and left the American Dream behind. Our intention was to travel South East Asia, looking for the perfect place to be our new home base. We hoped to find a real community, live light on the earth, and in touch with nature. We had thought we would probably put down roots in Bali, as we had already been there a few times and loved it so much. The plan was, that once we had a new home base, we wanted to start a business that aligned with our ethics and lifestyle. Mainly, our goals were to save, fix or help the environment. So, in August of 2014 we left the U.S. and started our travels and quickly found ourselves in the mountains of Northern Thailand.
It was like we were drawn there. The town had many of our favorite things. It was like a festival, full of live music, amazing vegetarian and vegan street food, handicrafts, hippies with dreads, and reggae music. Add to that all the local customs, hill tribe peoples, delicious Thai food, abundant loving street dogs, Buddhist temples, and monks walking the streets and it was simply magical. We were in awe, it seemed we were right where we were meant to be. To make sure we truly had found our place in the world, we felt the need to explore and traverse South East Asia a bit more. We visited the amazing Angkor temple complex of Cambodia. We spent a month riding trains and motorcycles throughout Vietnam. We saw the sights, drank Vietnamese coffee and the enjoyed the lush jungle scenery. Check out the Floating Village we saw during a kayaking trip.
And of course, we went back to Bali, our original intended destination to relocate. Throughout all of these trips, we returned to our little village in the mountains of Thailand. Each visit, we stayed a bit longer and left for shorter and shorter amounts of time. Eventually, we came to accept that this was our favorite place on Earth, and acknowledged that it had been our home, since the first breath we took there.
So part one of our plan was complete, we had found a home base, surrounded by nature, with abundant tropical fruits, and an amazing community of locals and eccentric expats. Part two of our new life was to create a business to support ourselves and save the environment. With these goals foremost in our minds and our love of yoga increasing exponentially, the seeds from which Lotus Tribe Clothing were sewn started to grow...
While visiting Bali and practicing yoga, I found it difficult to buy sustainable yoga wear in my size. Since Balinese women are traditionally more petite than the average American woman, most of the clothes I found ready made, were too small for my body. I bought some natural cotton yoga clothing from a nice little family run shop in Ubud.
We started designing my own personal wardrobe with our new friends. I was able to get exactly what I needed, color, size, fabric, everything. I realized, that there must be other women, also searching for luxurious, natural, comfy yoga wear, who would also want buy and wear what I did.
Yoga and active wear is a large portion of the fashion industry and is dominated by big, corporate brands that utilize petroleum based synthetic fabrics. These manufacturing processes contribute to global air and water pollution and workers are not treated well in the fast fashion world. Our objective was to offer an alternative. Specifically our desire was to produce earth friendly, ethically made, size inclusive, yoga lifestyle wear that we would offer at an affordable price, so it was available to everyone.
In 2017, we partnered with TreeSisters.org (look for our future blog post about them and the amazing things they do in the world) to be our chosen form of philanthropic entrepreneurialism. We started planting one tree for every single item we sell. Trees produce oxygen, store carbon, fight climate change and provide critical habitat for wildlife. Not to mention that TreeSisters is creating much needed jobs in impoverished communities.
Our vision was, and is, to do as much good through our business as we can. We strive to make an impact in the world and create/foster change, as a part of our business model. We attempt to lead by example, so other small brands see that you can create sustainably, AND give back to the planet too. We will hire and employ artisans when we travel, so that they can continue to practice the traditional art forms of their culture. We hope to provide them the opportunities needed to keep those traditions alive.
We also want to empower the public, to fully grasp the purchasing power they have. Each one of us can affect the future of business practices, by supporting the companies who align with our own ethical choices. You can literally vote with your wallet. The brands you back are the ones who will still be around tomorrow and next year. Let’s all support the small, eco and ethical businesses!
In 2018, we continued to grow and revise our designs and patterns, as well as expand our offerings in styles, sizes and colors. We also made the switch from regular tape, to paper tape for our shipping, and met our goal of plastic free packaging. Constantly upgrading and refining our processes, we continue to strive to become even more earth friendly with every opportunity.
In 2019, we were thrilled to transition over to an organic cotton fabric. This was our dream/goal from the beginning and we couldn't have been more excited. We also started to sponsor a fire spinning troupe and found that our natural fiber fabrics are perfect for fire performers as synthetic clothing catches fire easily and is quite dangerous for them. We began to look to our brand as more of a lifestyle, for travelers and fitness enthusiasts, including all kinds of dance, movement and festival performers.
But then, in 2020, Covid wiped out our supply chain and we were back to our original 90% cotton 10% lycra blend. This lack of a steady source of organic fabric made it difficult to have consistent fit, stretch and sizing. Growing pains of an emerging brand in a global pandemic are real. We were terribly disappointed, but we plan to switch back to organic cotton as soon as possible.
Now here we are, in 2021, celebrating five wonderful years! Whether you're new to our brand or have been with us from the start; we thank you for your ongoing support and for choosing a small, eco minded, slow fashion business. We appreciate YOU for helping us to not only create our dream life, but to also be the change in the world that we want to see. Our gratitude is unending that so many of you have chosen to practice mindful consumption and wear natural, plant based clothing.
We are constantly making new items in our line, from expanding our styles of tank tops with built in bras and adding more options in size XL, to offering more eco gift items. We found some Balinese artisans, to revive the lost art of batik, and are now selling 100% rayon sarongs that are hand made in the long established Balinese block print style. Tourism had sparked a rise in printed sarongs, as they are quicker and easier to produce. As such, the age old art of batik was being lost in Bali. Sarongs are multi purpose, perfect as a wrap skirt, scarf, beach cover up and towel, they make a great gift. This is just one way we try to keep indigenous and traditional art alive while offering you beautiful and natural items. You can find them in our Accessories and Gifts section.
Now we are looking to the future and excited for what we can do in the next 5 years... We plan to expand our offerings to include mens’ wear and hemp fabrics AND we hope to build even more community within Our Tribe through outreach and connection.
Yoga and eco activism are a part of our daily activities and we want to provide resources to the public. To us, this is a lifestyle, not just a business, and we want share it. We wish for everyone to have the tools needed to live their best lives and we believe that comes from having practices where you prioritize your mental and physical well being. So we created a Community section on our website (you can find it here). This invaluable resource has links to free yoga, fitness, meditation and breathwork videos. The people included are actual friends we want to introduce to you, their inclusion is from the heart and is not a paid promotion. Many of them also offer individual and group work for your own personal transformation. Whether you would like to find online women’s circles, need a coach or simply want to read an astrology blog, we have something for every interest.
In 2022 we plan to increase our outreach through periodic Mailers to keep in touch and share news, updates, offers and information. We are also launching our Blog section that will include all sorts of yoga lifestyle, health and wellness topics for your enrichment. Our Affiliate Program will be in full swing, adding more ways to reach the public. If that is something you may want to participate in, please reach out or sign up from our website.
Stay tuned and join the Tribe.
With love and light, until next time,
Dawn, Lotus Tribe founder and creatrix