Couture Soul

I’ve spent my entire career helping others build their businesses, with skills and practices I learned while using the internet. I’ve hand-held multiple individuals as they went from being penniless to (not-overnight) millionaires with successful businesses. In many ways, I’m proud of the few people I’ve helped take to the next level in life.

Now, it’s my turn.

Now that I’m a Dad, I’ve never felt more of a motivation or pull to do things differently in my life. Specifically, I want to make money differently than the way I do now, which involves exchanging my time for money. In a world where I don’t have a child, that sort of transaction worked well.

Things are different now.

Despite Tripleskinny reaching new goals this year, I’ve never felt less of a desire to grow the agency business. As silly as it may sound, I feel a far greater sense of purpose when I’m changing diapers for Atlas than I do when I perform my occupation. Atlas is my world, while I have never viewed agency work as more of a means to an end than I do at this point in my life.

My mentor told me many years ago that there are many ways to make a million dollars. You could sell a million loaves of bread for $1, or you could sell two Rolls-Royce cars for $500,000 and walk away with a million. Both transactions led you to the same outcome, despite being very different from each other.

As I’ve gone through my career, I’ve thought a lot about this idea. Somewhere, there had to be the ‘perfect product’ for me to introduce to the world, and I often spent hours searching for ways to enter the world with a product, rather than service.

In the past few years, I’ve delved deeply into creating abstract artwork. In some cases, I sell my work and have even had the opportunity to furnish private offices through commission work. These creative pursuits have brought me more joy than other endeavors, and have never felt like ‘work’.

As the years went by, I went from painting a small handful of paintings to now being the creator of hundreds of pieces of art, which are proudly adorned all over the world and treasured by their owners. It brought me a lot of joy to see others enjoying my artwork and placing the pieces in their homes, offices or places of worship.

Over the last decade, I’ve moved a lot. From city to city, place to place, I’ve had to continuously recreate my home experience. The number of times I’ve moved has given me the perspective that understands how big of a difference artwork can make in a home. One beautiful piece of artwork on a wall can make a room feel full – even when it’s still waiting to be filled with furniture.

While art is wonderful, one of the worst parts about art is the process of moving it from place to place. Really, it’s not fun. There’s no good or easy way to transport art – or store it.

While I continued to pursue creating art, I realized that there were other mediums beyond the traditional canvas that could easily hold my art. So, I experimented putting pieces on household items, such as rugs, curtains, shower curtains, duvet covers, blankets pillows and mats. Eventually, I had the idea to put the artwork on a yoga mat.

That idea started a hunt to find a provider who could create custom yoga mats with the type of digital artwork I created. I’ll tell you, the process wasn’t easy. Most yoga mat producers will only create ‘custom’ yoga mats that feature a single color logo – much less, bold abstract artwork.

After quite a bit of hunting, I found one provider that seemed to have great mats – and I ordered one. The mat turned out beautifully. However, the cost to produce a single mat was a three-digit sum, and I knew that I’d never be able to sell mats at a price point where I had any margins. As a result, I pressed “pause” on that idea and worked on other things – as well as became a Dad.

During that time, I used the ‘expensive’ mat I ordered for my yoga ‘practice’ – which was nonexistent at that point. I remember each day I’d practice yoga, I felt an emotional release inside of me.

Sometimes, I felt shame for being so inflexible, and tears would fall onto the mat. It was during those times that I looked down at the mat and saw something beautiful staring back at me – my artwork. I remember being encouraged when I looked at it because my first reaction was “wow, that’s really beautiful.” – after which, I remembered I was the artist, and it truly touched my heart.

I remember feeling like I was on a journey during those yoga sessions. Thinking about my upcoming life as a Dad, questioning how I was going to make it work, wondering if I would ever get that pose right… Throughout many of those mental battles, I remember looking down at the mat and finding a sense of peace and reassurance – as if everything was going to be alright.

Every time I reached down to touch the mat, I felt as if it were ‘hugging my hands’ because of the soft touch. I thought “this is the mat that loves you.” – and I started to think about making more of them so that other people could experience their yoga practice in a similar way.

Adding artwork to a yoga mat felt like adding vodka to a Red Bull – it’s what makes the drink (and night) powerful. Yoga is such an emotional experience, beyond the physical workout you enjoy when you practice it. Artwork also dwells within the world of emotion, and I found the two of them mixed perfectly together.

Throughout my journey of wanting to create a product and sell it to the world, I had a few loose requirements that I wanted to meet with this unknown product.

First, I wanted the product to be a better mousetrap

I realized that even a minor improvement to a basic device can yield a successful outcome, because you’ve created the new ‘standard’ for a product that consumers have already accepted as it is – and have spent money to validate the idea.

Next, I wanted to have a ‘but wait, there’s more!’ 

Since I was a little boy, I’ve been mildly obsessed with products and the way they’re sold. I love gadgets, widgets and unique products that others haven’t seen before – and find great joy in introducing them! Few things bring me more satisfaction than sharing a good product and giving a personalized tour of its features.

I remember looking at the yoga mat one day and realizing how perfect of a product it was. It combined things I loved doing, featured my artwork and had the ability to beautify a home – as well as transform a traditional looking product into a piece of art. I knew I had to sell them, but still needed to crack the nut of finding a more reasonable manufacturer for the mats.

Eventually, that day came. I uncovered an obscure manufacturer and ordered several samples to test their quality. I was nervous to receive the mats, because I realized it was nearly impossible to find anybody to print them the way I wanted to.

When the mats arrived, I remember opening the box and unrolling them before my eyes.

They were perfect.

The texture, build quality, print and durability were all to my specifications, and I remember staring down at the floor to see it covered with something I knew I could take to the world and sell – and provide for my family while doing so.

That’s been the drive behind this whole idea; to liberate myself to be a better person to the people I love, myself and those I want to touch in life. I want to break free from being tied to my computer during all hours of the day/night, and instead spend those hours taking care of my health, talking to loved ones, learning, exploring, traveling and being the best human being I can be – because I have a little one who is watching me as an example.

For the last few months, I’ve continued to design, order more samples, test concepts and explore new ways of bringing my yoga mats to the public. I’ve thought outside of the box to bring people something they’ve never seen before, while giving them an opportunity to shop online in a way they probably haven’t before – AR.

But wait, there’s more…

Looking at my mats, I realized they serve a much greater purpose than a simple exercise accessory – they can be used to beautify a home, both when hung vertically on the wall, as well as when they’re used as floor mats/runners, which are perfect to place at the foot of your bed, or in your kitchen. The rubber construction means they’re far more durable than the traditional foam mat, and hold their shape when hung vertically, thus creating a piece of functional abstract artwork.

Functional artwork is cool – but there had to be a ‘but wait, there’s more..’

I struggled to figure that part out. What else could somebody do with a yoga mat? How else could it be used?

That’s when I got to thinking about how yoga mats are traditionally stored. After bring used, they’re rolled up and stuck in a corner somewhere. If you’re rolling up a sweaty mat, it’s a likely cesspool for bacteria… – but that’s another topic for another day.

I wanted to hang the mats from the wall, similar to a piece of art. However, I had a hard time finding any sort of wall mount/clip that would hold the mats without damaging them. The closest solution I found involved screw-on wall tapestry holders that pinched the mat to the wall. Not ideal.

I remember opening my refrigerator one day to make a parfait, and I stopped to look at the magnets on the refrigerator…holding up pieces of art.

“Duh. Use magnets.” I thought.

In no time at all, I ordered every variation of magnetic tape and wall-mounted magnetic strips from Amazon. Attaching a piece of magnetic tape to the end of the yoga mat would allow you to easily stick it to a metal surface – if it would hold.

I remember the day the box arrived containing the magnets. I rushed to unwrap the magnetic tape and stick it on the first yoga mat I could find. Without any of the wall mounts, the only surface was my refrigerator, which I quickly cleared of the artwork it held. Would it hold?

It held. Perfectly. The mat was firmly held to the fridge while also being perfectly flush against its surface – this would work for walls.

As I type this, I’m staring at one of the mats beautifully hung against the wall, held by nothing but a thin magnetic strip of tape, which allows it to be easily removed when the mat needs to be used.

When I stare at these mats, I see something that can transform a space and make it beautiful, personal and feel custom-tailored. There’s a desire to share these mats with the world because I truly believe they have the ability to transform the space and lives of their owners. I want others to discover the true relationship they can have with their yoga mat – something that is there to support, uplift and strengthen them.

For the last few months, I’ve been working diligently at taking these mats to the world, and I’m thrilled to be closer than ever to this goal.

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