2018 is all about women. Over the course of the next 12 months we are celebrating a diverse range of women with inspiring stories, succesful businesses and incredible strength.
To kick off the year with a bang we meet Lara Sengupta. Entrepeneur and owner of the company, Cork Yogis which sells beautiful cork mats, blocks and accesories all whilst donating proceeds to an amazing cause in India.
I asked Lara to tell us a little more about her fabulous business, the charity she works with and what female empowerment means to her..
Q. Hi Lara! Where did Cork Yogis journey begin and what inspired you to start up your own business?
A. I have always wanted to set up something for women’s empowerment in India. I visited India quite a lot as a kid and my family originate from there. Whilst visiting I noticed a lack of opportunity for women with poor foor families or without families at all. So when I met Destiny ( the charity we currently work with), I knew I wanted to get involved with them and use the popularity of yoga in the west to give back. I have loved yoga since I was 19 and I knew I wanted to start a business combining my two loves; yoga and female empowerment.
Q. Where and when did your own personal yoga journey begin and what keeps you coming back to the mat?
A. I started yoga when I was 19. I have always been quite a worrier and I needed something to help get my anxiety under control. I tried loads of different things but the 2 hours a week that I was on my yoga mat was the only time my mind really felt clear. I’ve loved it ever since!
Q. Tell us about the charitable organisation you set up/donate to and how does the sale of a Cork Yogi mat contribute to this?
A. We work with a team in Kolkata, India, called Destiny. They work with human trafficking survivors, helping them on their rehabilitation journey by providing education and jobs. For every yoga mat we sell, we provide a donation towards a vocational course (our customers choose the course they want to give at the checkout). We also provide jobs for the women by employing them to make our yoga mat bags.
We are in the process of expanding and working with other girls in the Kolkat area that have been victims of trafficking and now need jobs. We want to make as big an impact as possible with Cork Yogis.
Q. What are the benefits of a cork yoga mat opposed to a regular mat?
A. There are loads of reasons why we love cork over any other yoga mat. The main reason is grip. Every yogi I chat to has the same problem, that when your hands start sweating, you start slipping all over the place and its distracting and a little dangerous. Cork has the unique quality that the grip actually improves as you sweat. As the mat gets damp, the grip increases 3 fold!
Q. What would you say to any other woman thinking of starting her own business?
A. I would say, go for it! The scariest thing I experienced was the transition from working full time and Cork Yogis being a part time thing, to doing it full time. I was scared that all my friends have normal jobs and I wouldnt fit in with them anymore and I would be lonely. But to be honest it’s the best thing i’ve ever done. From the moment I handed in my notice, all these amazing people and opportunities came flooding towards me, none of which would have happened had I stayed in my job. I think we all attract exactly what we need in every situation, even if we can’t see it straight away.
Q. And finally, what are your thoughts on 2018 being ‘the year of the woma’?
A. I think its fantastic that 2018 is predicted to be the year of the woman! There are a lot of big campaigns happening to highlight issues such as sexual assualt and inequality in the workplace.
However I still feel like there is a huge problem with society casually blaming incidences and injustices on women. That being said, we are definitely moving in the right direction, if you look at where we have come from. Younger generations are certainly becoming more aware and more open to an equal playing field.
If you’d like to read more about Lara and browse her companies beautiful products, head over to https://www.corkyogis.com/ where you can enjoy a discount on mats and accesories with our code -‘YOGABODY’.