It started with a yoga mat. “I have been practicing yoga for 8-9 years, and always had a problem with the mats, be it for hot yoga or other forms,” says Sonakshi Bagla, Founder-CEO of Shakti Warrior.
After having worked at Macy’s in New York while pursuing her degree, helping the company with its activewear collection, Bagla, 28, wanted to come back to India and start something in the same vein, but eco-friendly and sustainable.
“And so, we started the brand with the mats in mind,” recalls Bagla, noting that after many trials they found the ideal materials – eco-nylon from recycled fishing nets removed from our oceans, 100 per cent hemp fabric, natural tree rubber, micro fibers and premium cork.
“After the mats, we moved on to active wear, and other yoga accessories. My mom is the artist behind the brand. All our products have artwork on them, hand drawn by her,” reveals Bagla, adding that her bestfriend from college takes care of the US operations while Bagla takes care of India, and Dubai, which is where the brand is opening its next outlet.
Currently, the brand retails from its flagship store in Santushti Shopping Complex, New Delhi, and through its website.
In case you were wondering, Bagla’s mother is Anita Kumar, a renowned calligrapher and author. Kumar has been perfecting her handwriting since childhood and began to gain recognition for her skills from age 11.
On the mats, and other products, Kumar depicts India’s diverse culture via her designs of chakras, mandalas and animals indigenous to India, such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Indian Elephant, and others.
Keeping in harmony with Bagla’s vision, those who buy Shakti Warrior products indirectly support many lives.
“We are a women-owned brand that wants to help other women. So all the yoga mats’ bags are stitched by disadvantaged women, and all the proceeds from the sales go back to them. We didn’t want to do charity, but wanted them involved in the business,” says Bagla, who also introduced an upcycling program.
“We offer 10 per cent discount if you give in old yoga mats. Those are converted into flip-flops for underprivileged kids so that they don’t need to go around barefoot,” notes Bagla.