Fashion & Beauty | September 23, 2015
For the Mind, Body, and the Economy
Wouldn’t it be nice to clear your meditative mind with a yoga mat that is made in America? To exhale and relax into pose knowing working conditions are kind, production is eco-friendly and sales help our economy.
Doing something good for the mind, body, and spirit that is what JadeYoga has done since its conception in 2000.
It all started when India’s world renowned yoga instructor and author, B.K.S. Iyengar came to America many years ago. During his yoga demonstration he continued to slip on the oriental rug beneath him. A student kindly removed the rug leaving him to continue on the pad underneath. This happenstance transformed the rug pad into the first ever yoga mat. Thereafter, yogis were clamoring to find something equivalent, but what they found to purchase was made from PVC or other synthetics.
That’s where Jade Industries Inc. comes in. They were a successful manufacturing company producing non-slip natural rubber rug pads since the 1970’s. When yogis started to buy the pads as a way to inhibit sliding, Jade Industries decided to fill the void by developing Harmony, the first natural rubber yoga mat - and the company JadeYoga was born.
Out to make the best functioning mat in the world, natural rubber was the only option, according to founder Dean Jerrehian. Its non-slip grip properties alone far exceed using synthetic. Adding to that Dean’s history as a vegetarian and former lawyer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and it’s easy to see why an eco-friendly, renewable resource was so important.
The Making of the Mat
First the rubber is tapped from rubber trees in Malaysia (much like maple syrup). Dean told me there are “no domestic sources of raw rubber as rubber trees grow in tropical climates.” The company looked into cactus based rubber in the United States but it is not available yet. For now, the Malaysian rubber tree is still their best option.
After being harvested, the raw rubber has to do some extensive traveling to arrive in America. Once here Dean explained what happens. “Large master rolls of sheet rubber are produced to our specification by a factory in Connecticut. We cut these large rolls down, label and package the mats in Conshohocken, PA.”
The JadeYoga Eco Mat
When JadeYoga launched the first “green” yoga mat, 500 samples were sent out. Yoga enthusiasts were thrilled to have a mat that produced supreme grip, better cushion and held up to repeated, vigorous use. On top of that – it was eco friendly! Today the mat comes in a wide range of colors including vibrant choices like saffron, orange, key lime and teal. To fit every need, many sizes are available, including a travel mat, a Pilates Yoga fusion mat and the extra wide Harmony mat. The product can be found in health food stores all over the world. Here in America look for Jade mats in Whole Foods, REI, Nordstrom’s, Sports Authority and Dicks as well as their website Jadeyoga.com.
Choosing to manufacture in America
Today China is where most yoga mats are made, but for this company manufacturing in American was the choice. “When we develop new products, our first choice is always to make them in the US so we can be assured of what goes into the product and to ensure that the products are made in compliance with US environmental, labor, worker safety and consumer protection laws and have a smaller carbon footprint as there is less shipping involved,” Dean shared. The decision was further solidified in 2005 after a chemical spill into China’s Songhua River and the current toy and food issues. Dean said, “While dollar costs may be lower with mats made in China, it is just not worth it.”
Dean had some insight for others looking to start production in America. “While it sometimes seems tempting to produce overseas, you can do better for your customers when you make products domestically as you can be more sure of the quality of the products (including what goes into the products). You can also often reduce production minimums, shipping costs and environmental impact by making products domestically.”
Yoga has a deep rooted philosophy that everything and everyone is interconnected. Dean Jerrehian and his company appear to hold these beliefs close to heart in every choice they make. Through a partnership with Trees for the Future, they plant a tree for each mat they sell. Many other organizations domestically, like ovarian cancer research and autism awareness, as well as organizations worldwide, benefit from there generosity. JadeYoga is not only good for the mind, body and spirit but also making the world a better place - one mat at a time.
Credits // Author: Wendi Wendt