Newly Launched Fitness Line Draws From Ancient Inspiration
Spirituality and social consciousness inspired two Drexel seniors to create Chakra Fitwear — a line of workout apparel that’s more than meets the eye.
November 24, 2014
by Zach Epstein
In Hindu tradition, there are seven major chakras throughout the body — energy points that, when properly balanced, contribute to spiritual well being. This serenity, you’d think, is more likely achieved in a place of worship, or perhaps a yoga studio — not a bustling, intensive boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs more focused on their business plans than on their breathing.
But for two Drexel seniors, this is exactly where their chakras found perfect alignment.
In May 2014, Ashley Revay and Erin Moffitt started kicking around a business idea. The friends and fitness aficionados — both students at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business — were tired of compromising on their workout apparel.
“I was just really sick of paying an extraordinary amount of money for a brand name, or getting something really cheap. There has to be a way to do something better,” Moffitt says.
What began as a casual discussion about creating their own line of fitness wear soon got serious. Looking to build on what they’d learned in the Close School’s Launch It! course, which Revay had taken that spring, they attended the Philadelphia Lean Startup Machine.
“Lean Startup really just accelerated everything,” Moffitt says. “In that one weekend, we were able to validate everything we were doing.”
The duo entered the workshop, which was co-sponsored by the Close School, with the idea of starting a comprehensive apparel line — one they quickly scrapped in favor of something smaller and more streamlined.
“A big thing was narrowing down what we wanted to focus on,” Revay says. “Learning from Launch It!, you need to have a minimum viable product and go from there.”
They settled on leggings, but remained devoted to another concept they couldn’t eschew, even as a fledgling business: a commitment to the triple bottom line.
Revay had seen tee shirts made from recycled plastic bottles, and suggested to Moffitt that they produce their apparel from the same material. The partners agreed, and now, just a few months after their discussion about the lack of quality, affordable workout apparel, Chakra Fitwear is poised to be the solution.
A Leg Up on Kickstarter
The company launched its official Kickstarter campaign last week, looking to raise $80,000 for an initial run of leggings. Most of that capital will cover manufacturing costs. The raw material is harvested in Seattle, sent to Guatemala for assembly, shipped back to Seattle for final touches, and flown to New York for printing. The fibers, sourced from recycled bottles, will account for 90 percent of the wearable material, with spandex filling out the ensemble.
The leggings will also be digitally printed, which uses less water and fewer toxins than screen-printing.
They chose Chakra as their name, Moffitt says, because of their focus on a “very positive, balanced lifestyle.” Keeping in line with this ethos, their first run of leggings feature “a very yogic aesthetic.”
Designed by Calla Michaelides, a senior in Drexel’s Westphal College, the attire’s look is inspired by Hinduism and evokes a distinct and colorful spirit.
“Nobody else is going to have something like this,” Moffitt says.
Though their commitment to both profit and purpose is demonstrated in their manufacturing choices, Revay and Moffit knew they wanted to do even more. That’s why they’ve partnered with the Kasiisi Project in Uganda to create an education-through-athletics program for girls in the seven schools Kasiisi supports.
“We’re going to fund specific projects. Our first project is implementing netball courts, so the girls have a place to be able to play competitive, organized sports,” Revay says.
Chakra plans to feature real-time goal tracking on their website, so customers can see exactly what their purchases are helping to fund, and how much more Chakra must raise to support each project.
As they’ve learned through Launch It! and the Lean Startup Machine, Revay and Moffit know to pace their launch one step at a time. So for now, Chakra is focusing on their Kickstarter campaign and spreading the word about their innovative approach to workout wear. They sponsored a booth at last weekend’s Philadelphia Marathon and are partnering with local fitness centers for promotional and fundraising events.
Moffitt also plans to take Launch It! when it is next offered. But their goals remain lofty. “We want to go beyond being eco-friendly,” she says, “and use this as a platform to help people.”