Growing up I was an elite gymnast and through most of my adulthood I have been fairly thin and fit. After 12+ years of marriage and a divorce, I embraced traveling the world and forgot to keep up with staying fit and loved indulging in bad yummy food! I gained a significant amount of weight, but during that time I also resolved a lot of pain and issues that my ex caused and I just seriously fell in love with me! Thereafter, I learned to climb and have been going strong for 3 years and hope to enjoy many more years of climbing adventures.
When I started climbing, I thought, like many women, I have a number of fitness tops, but now I need to buy new ones for climbing. I was not sure how successful I would be now that I had gone from bones to a fuller figure. I scavenged the clearance racks at REI and found a few tops that just fit so perfectly that provided the support I needed for climbing. I received so many compliments on the design of my new tops and how good they made me look. Three years later, I still wear those favorite prAna tops…oh yes…after a gazillion wash cycles, they are still alive and kicking. Most notable to me is the quality fabric, support, and design. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love and stand behind my prAna clothes for climbing.
When I started this blog the universe has connected me to so many journeys I had never imagined. The purpose of my blog continues to grow and align. So I am not surprised my journey has taken me to meet this beautiful company. After the interview, I now see prAna differently; I see them as a company that is ‘deeper than their products’.
When I posted on my Climbingjourney and personal Facebook page about my plans to meet my beloved prAna crew, I also asked for folks to describe this company in one word. I received so many private messages, emails and texts, my heart was so touched to see words such as…birth, soul, balance, believe, revive, re-live, sustain, give, heart, art, simplicity, earth, universal, focus, release, align, and so on.
So after getting thousands of precious words to describe prAna, then arriving there and receiving a tour of their playground, I met with founder Beaver Theodosakis for an interview that went something like this…
Tell us prAna’s birth story. A friend introduced my wife and I to rock climbing and yoga over 18 years ago and we fell in love with its simplicity and soulfulness. We undoubtedly learned to live in the here and now and were born and transformed from that experience. We wanted to give back to both the climbing and yoga community and decided to start a company that would provide clothing that was inspiring and purposeful. We started with one employee in the garage of our house, sent products using surplus fruit boxes, recycled newspapers to make our own garment hang tags, and as we grew, we have made it our utmost mission to maintain that soulful vision and core that formed part of our company’s foundation.
Why the name prAna? My wife Pam thought of the name prAna from reading a yoga book, which means “an ancient Sanskrit word for breath, life and vitality of the spirit has helped guide our actions and lift our aspirations since day one”. We figured as we grew, the name prAna would be a constant reminder of never forgetting or losing our core, our vision and mission to serve others, pursue sustainability, inspire and give back with a full heart. We also wanted this to influence our design, produce products that look beautiful in its simplicity, produce energy yet comfort.
Tell us about your journey after starting prAna. When we first started the company, there was limited clothing in climbing and yoga that allowed free movement, expression and engagement in that activity. In pursuit to make products of purpose for climbers and yogis, we sought the feedback of climbing and yoga legends in product development so that we could refine our ideas and provide the most purposeful and durable products. As the years progressed it became clearer it was time to broaden the market to those outside of these two communities (climbing and yoga). We hope to reach a broader market and spread the awareness of health, wellness and sustainability.
Years later we were invited to the Organic Exchange with about 70 other companies/brands to learn more about organic cotton, recycling and sustainability.
My wife and I were so moved, that we made it a mission to build a culture within prAna that promoted this very important and thoughtful process. As a company, we compost, try to find ways to recycle as much as material as possible even down to our pamphlets because all these things go right back to the meaning of prAna. Today prAna is 6th in the ranking of brands using organic cotton. We also recently received the Green Power Leadership Award from the EPA for our wind power program in 2005. So, as we grew then, continue to grow now and share in many successes, my wife and I want the success to radiate prAna’s roots and values. If you look at our website at the bottom link called ‘Sustainability’, you can read more on prAna’s initiatives to give back universally.
As you grow, things will change, what is one thing that you have managed to incorporate from the first days of prAna? As I mentioned earlier, our hangtags are unique. When we first started, to honor our roots and values we would gather and collect newspapers, grind them up in a blender, make a pulp, add pine tree sent, pour out the pulp in a slab, roll it out, let it dry and with water base ink we would print on it. We would attach these with safety pins. Sound familiar? Granted we have a much higher volume of product today, but every time you now see that hang tag, know that the purpose behind it is huge. Something that simple in the process of making garment allows us to honor a deeply rooted word….prAna.
Where do you want prAna to be in 10 years? Well originally prAna was going to be not-for-profit organization. Since we pursued a corporation, thinking universally, I want this message of sustainability, wellness, health, purity, etc., to reach more people and core markets, thus touch more hearts and inspire. We want prAna to grow in a mindful way while being present in the moment and giving back via different initiatives.
What has this journey done for you? Well having the resources to give back via our initiatives has been so moving. When the intention is pure, the return is joyous. Serving our customers and helping others is our pure joy. I look back and my wife and I have done everything to maintain our core and not lose sight of what is most important. Our company started deep beyond its products and we have journeyed through 18+ years maintaining that mission and vision through our initiatives in giving back. And to be honest, you told me earlier how you asked people to use a word to describe our company and how much positive response you received. Moments like this take my breath away. I am witnessing ‘Seva’ which is the selfless act of serving. When you start little sparks, they become bushfires, they generate a fuel of energy, then radiate ideas and principles that begin to change the world.
This interview does not stop here. Please take the time to go to www.prana.com and the lower right hand corner read through the links ‘Our Story’ and ‘Sustainability’. Be inspired and moved and share with others the real beauty of prAna!
Many thanks to Beaver T, sweet Andre, and the staff at prAna for opening their doors to Climbingjourney, for their time, hearts and love!