A Yoga Pant for the Yogi Soul
A year and a half ago, a small company called Alana Athletica opened a Kickstarter campaign, promising premium yoga pants at affordable prices. They would be produced in ethical factories in Sri Lanka that employ women and guarantee them fair wages and humane treatment.
That campaign quickly gained popularity and appeared on the “Products We Love” tab on the Kickstarter homepage. Alana Athletica raised roughly $55,000 in a month and began production. The men and women behind the company say it has been hard work, but the impact their product has keeps them going.
Alana is headquartered in Atlanta, where their team is working to expand the reach and quality of their brand. While their products can be purchased in a couple of yoga studios around the city, the Alana team hopes to see their retailer list grow in the coming months. As they consider working with some large-scale retailers, ethics remain central to the Alana brand.
“The fact that the brand is giving back and really truly impacting women, helping them overcome situations of abuse and empowering them not only to survive but to thrive—that’s such a beautiful cause,” says Sarah Marske, a member of Alana Athletica’s team.
And it’s true. Alana Athletica is partnered with Emerge Global, a nonprofit organization that supports women and survivors of abuse in Sri Lanka. Alana Athletica also employs survivors of sexual abuse and, through the sale of its product, helps finance the survivors’ education, employment training and empowerment opportunities such as self-defense classes.
To accomplish its vision of ethical production, the team at Alana Athletica had to avoid some traditional business methods.
“Sri Lanka exports over one hundred billion dollars’ worth of garments every year,” said Juan Castellanos, a founder of Alana Athletica. Most of this production, however, comes from large-scale factories that employ sweatshop labor. Alana Athletica prefers to use factories on the outskirts of this production empire.
“These factories tend to be much smaller and family-owned,” Castellanos says, and they provide a better work environment. “For example,” he continues, “a factory we have been working with from day one pays at least 20 percent higher wages” than the national average.
“Our primary focus is to be that human-driven ethical brand,” says Castellanos. He and Marske had been comfortably supporting themselves in corporate positions but wanted to have a greater social impact.
And while the ethical production of Alana Athletica’s garments helps motivate the team, Marske also enjoys seeing the brand connect with the customers in a unique way.
“We know that one of the core values of the women we serve is giving back and creating a positive impact in the community,” she says.
“Finding a sense of fulfillment and balance in their lives is important. So is personal growth, travel adventure and experiences in general. Really, it’s about connecting with our shoppers in a way that is meaningful in their lives.
“We want to empower the women that we serve and afford them the opportunity to give back with their purchases.”
In line with its theme of ethical production and consumption is Alana Athletica’s newest promotion. “We’re inviting people to join our brand and mission, and we’re inviting them to write an encouraging message to a woman in Sri Lanka who has survived abuse who participates with our Emerge Global partner,” says Marske. “In exchange for writing this message, we’ll give them a free pair of leggings!”
Participants will be emailed a code that can be redeemed for the free leggings from January 15 to 27.
“We’re doing this because we really want to connect our shoppers with the women that we serve, women in Sri Lanka, our survivors, so we can create this community of empowerment and connection between the people who wear our products and the people who we impact with our product,” says Marske.
For more information, visit alanaathletica.com. Purchase Alana Athletica’s leggings online or in Atlanta at Citizens Supply at Ponce City Market or the Dancing Dogs Yoga studio in Inman Park.