Keep it Real: Why you should choose the original eco-friendly alignment Yoga Mat from Liforme (and accept no imitations!)
Some say imitation is flattery. That may be so in some cases, but in the case of yoga mats, it can also come at a great human and environmental cost. It’s important to know your facts and consider them frankly when you go to choose a yoga mat to make sure you don’t get misled by the fakers out there. After all, we practice yoga on our mats! It’s a bit of an issue if we practice on a mat with bad business karma, right?
At Liforme, we take our responsibilities as an ethical business very much to heart and we certainly believe in business karma. From the beginning, we have prioritised environmental responsibility – in our materials, production, packaging and many other aspects of our business.
Instead of relying on someone else to oversee our production in China, our Founder & CEO James goes there himself, building the relationships, working directly with materials scientists to create new materials and improve on existing ones, and choosing the suppliers and facilities with excellent conditions for workers that make us absolutely confident in our ethical supply chain. To date, James has visited our suppliers and production facilities in China 18 times and for the last five years has spent six to eight weeks each year in China himself. At Liforme, ethics are not just something we talk about abstractly. They are something we do every day.
Many other businesses take a quick and dirty approach to starting up, choosing the cheapest, easiest route to the marketplace, regardless of the ideals that might get trampled along the way. We didn’t do that, and it’s one of the key reasons why it took us five years of work before we were ready to sell our first mat. Experimentation, innovation, and excellent design take time, as does finding the right way to manufacture.
In order to close the good business vibes loop, we are in search of ethical customers. Yes, YOU have an important role to play here too. Just like us, you have a choice to make. Are you going to be a quick and dirty purchaser or are you going to do the right thing? Buying a cheaper mat, an imitator, or a direct knock-off indicates that the years of research and development we put in, the high roads we have taken, the intense attention to detail along every step of the way, are not valuable. And that’s a sorry outlook for the future of ethical businesses in general and ethical yoga businesses in particular. But you know what? Whilst we’re concerned about this, we take it in our stride, because we know YOU are with us on this, and we know YOU care.
Form Follows Function
The ingenuity of our AlignForMe system is the basis for our mat’s origin story. It didn’t miraculously spring out fully formed and etch itself onto the surface of our first Liforme mat. Like most good design, the fact that it seems intuitive belies the amount of thought that went into it. It offers (rather brilliantly, we think) the geometric guides that are most useful for asana alignment while also allowing that each body is different. Its combination of orthogonal and biomorphic shapes reflects the natural world in a way that we are hardwired to find pleasing. When something is useful and beautiful, it makes us humans happy.
You may have seen imitations of our original design on other yoga mats by now (we certainly have!) and you could even be forgiven for thinking that it always existed in the yoga world. Not so! It came directly from Liforme. When people copy the work of others (especially without crediting them, and in some cases even making up elaborate stories about their own ‘inventions’), it’s just not right. And it’s certainly not yogic. We believe in originality, and we believe everyone has a responsibility to be original.
Always Be Innovating
The quest to find an effective way to get the AlignForMe graphic onto our yoga mat was actually the catalyst for our other key innovation, our unique, proprietary, truly eco-friendly, and completely non-toxic polyurethane practice surface. When we found flaws in the quality of the polyurethane that was available, we put in the time, resources, and effort to develop a new and better version. Working with some of the brightest materials-scientist minds, we developed our ‘eco-polyurethane’, so named in significant part because it will degrade fully in landfill conditions within about one to five years (unlike most other mats). When we didn’t want to use glue to adhere the two layers of our mats together, we used a non-toxic method of heat-bonding them. Every aspect of a Liforme mat has been meticulously customised with the express purpose of maximising what a mat can do to elevate yoga asana practice.
You Get What You Pay For
People sometimes ask us why a Liforme Mat is more expensive than a rip-off of a Liforme Mat. We can say unequivocally that it costs more to make things the right way. Non-toxic materials, facilities that don’t pollute, good working conditions, can the knock-offs genuinely offer these things? Of course they cannot – the maths simply does not add up. Conscious shoppers take the ethics of the businesses they support seriously. If a company’s product is built directly on the uncredited work of others, we’ve got a problem from the get-go.
And be under no illusions, yogis, the ‘yoga business’ is, sadly, awash with vast swathes of fakers and corrupt, ill-motivated ‘business people’ who are purely looking to cash-in yoga’s popularity and have absolutely zero concern for good business practices, let alone yogic values.
We’ve seen some very shady organisations flourishing in China, in particular, that are engaged in counterfeiting and producing poor imitation products. They even go so far as to create completely fake ‘brands’ that have elaborate, quasi-believable origin stories, but are actually just vehicles for pushing cheap, poorly made products with ghastly supply chains into other regions via marketplaces such as Amazon.
Sadly, these dodgy organisations have pulled the wool over the eyes of a fair few people and the problem needs to be brought to the surface. If the price looks too good to be true, it’s usually because it is. Be savvy, keep an eye out for these nasty activities, and do tell your friends! Be especially careful around the holiday internet selling season (over Black Friday and Christmas), when their very ‘tempting’ offers can lead you astray.
We’re not over here resting on our laurels. We’re always innovating, always working on new ways to improve the lives of yoga practitioners, always trying to be a model business by supporting the work of organisations that do important charity work in the areas of the environment, social justice, and animal welfare. What we’re not doing is waiting around for someone else to do the hard work and then stepping in to reap the rewards. That’s not how yoga works and that’s not how yoga businesses should work.
With love and gratitude to you all for your support, from all of us at Liforme.