Sankalpa Yoga Community’s Elyse & Joshua Nickell
In June 2014, with the help of local yoga teachers and a successful Kickstarter campaign, avid yoga practitioners Joshua and Elyse Nickell (a yogi herself) created Sankalpa Yoga Community, taking the support of independent yoga teachers as their mission. Sankalpa relies on local artists for their products, which include yoga mats, iPhone cases and shirts, and the profits go, in part, to Sankalpa’s yoga teachers.
We talked to Joshua and Elyse about Sankalpa’s start, their love of yoga and what they’ve learned so far in their roles as CEO and Chief Yogi, respectively.
Why did you choose Chicago?
Chicago is our home, so starting Sankalpa Yoga here was natural. We met in a yoga teacher training program at Moksha Yoga Center, a local Chicago studio. Once completing the program, we quickly realized the financial struggle of supporting ourselves as two burgeoning yoga teachers. Yet yoga teachers have wisdom that is extremely important to share, now more than ever. We started Sankalpa Yoga to provide a platform for yoga teachers to share their philosophy with the rest of the world through physical product, while also supporting themselves financially. The local support we have received from yoga teachers, studio owners and artists from Chicago has been invaluable.
If you could go back in time before you started this project and share one piece of advice with yourself, what would you tell yourself?
It’s important to put the pencil to paper and get started immediately, rather than concerning myself with having everything perfect. We’ve had this idea for a couple of years now. We’ve done great and seen amazing success since we started working on it six months ago, but we likely could’ve made a lot more progress had we started earlier.
What is your next step?
Grow the business! We wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign last month, reaching over 250 percent of our goal. Our mats are now available for preorder at a discounted rate on the website, and will be in stock and available for sale via our website early March. We’re also scoping out offline channels to offer our product, including yoga studios, hotel chains, and other health/athletic outlets. And we’re always scouting for the new yoga teachers and artists to feature, so if you’re interested in becoming the next featured Sankalpa yoga artist or yoga teacher, apply now through our online portals!
We want to be in the know! Name one person, place or thing that you think is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets—a secret until now, of course.
This piece of Ganesha street art (pictured here) is probably the coolest piece of street art we’ve ever seen! Since we own a company with yoga inspired artwork, it’s about the coolest thing we could imagine. It’s a little off the beaten track, but it can be found right here in Chicago!
Q&As are edited for clarity and length.