02 May 2018

Spotlight: Meet Sam of Samyoga

When I met Sam a few months ago at The Yoga Show in Toronto I knew I had to feature her on Simply Sera. She is such a wicked #girlboss, and I am so inspired by her. I first fell in love with Samyoga when I spotted a green and floral lavender eye pillow at my local yoga studio, Country Zen. I didn't even look at the price, I just purchased it and proudly took it home. Now every night before bed I lay for 10 minutes with this lavender pillow over my eyes reflecting on my day and resting my eyes!

You've also probably seen it in many of my Instagram posts, since it is so beautiful and easy to photograph. I am trying to curate more yoga content for my following, because many of you are my own yoga clients so I want to share some amazing products with you. If you've been with me since the beginning, you know I love anything local, and beautifully curated "stuff" always catches my eye. 

When I spotted Sam at her booth at the Yoga Show in April, I fell completely in love with her brand. She has a knack for finding the most amazing  fabrics and creating really personal, functional products for yoga practice. It's safe to say that in a few short weeks I will likely own her entire collection because it is all so beautiful. It's hard to choose just one favourite, but I think the Zafu is my go-to item! 

Since meeting Samantha, I have gotten to know a lot about her -- like how shy she is! (Which I never would have guessed, because she greeted me with so much warmth when I approached her at The Yoga Show). I thought an amazing way for you to get to know the Sam behind Samyoga, was if her and I had a Q+A session and shared it with you! So here it is :)

Photo credit: Jocelyn Reynolds

Sera: When did you start designing yoga props?
Samantha: I've been sewing since I was 8 years old, and I studied Fashion at Ryerson. I've always been designing and making. I started sewing yoga props when I was working at YogaSpace on Ossington a few years ago. I was asked by a fellow teacher for some lavender eye pillows for a restorative class she was starting up. The studio loved them and wanted to sell some. They loved my fabrics and the quality and encouraged me to make more yoga props; sandbags, straps, yoga mat bags... Before I knew it I had a small business on my hands. All of the growth has been organic. It makes me glow when I reflect on where passion and hard work can lead!

Sera: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Sam: A lot of the designs are inspired by a sense of necessity. When I first started practicing, I could not find a beautiful yoga mat bag that was large enough to carry everything I needed to bring to class. So I designed the Yoga Mat Bag and the Everyday Tote, which are both super roomy and loved by so many of our customers. I am absolutely inspired by textiles - the textures and patterns of surface design are so central to my design process. If I'm not using my own hand-dyed fabrics, I am curating durable, bold and classic patterns for my pieces. I subscribe to the ethos that we all need to own less but that is only going to happen if we truly love the pieces that we own and we do our part to take care of them. One of the most common things I hear from my customers is "I LOVE your fabrics!"

Sera: As a yogi, yoga instructor and business owner, how do you find balance?
Sam: *Laughs* That's the magic question and if you have the answer, I'd love to know! It's really challenging. I've been practicing yoga for over a decade and my practice has ebbed and flowed in its intensity and consistency. In the past year, Samyoga has been growing so quickly and I'm still a one-woman show, so it's been more challenging than ever to keep my practice front and centre. When I am not on my mat, I cherish every moment there and I try to be really honest with myself about what I need to find my way back to a sense of grounding, rather than aiming for balance these days. My restorative practice is a strong source of calm and creativity that truly nourishes me and provides the best counterbalance to all the multitasking that running a business requires. I do make space for a short restorative practice everyday and often in the middle of the day. It's not uncommon to find me with my legs up the wall in the middle of my studio in the middle of the day.

Sera: Can you describe your own personal interior design style?
Sam: My home is small and bright, with lots of windows and lots of plants. I'm drawn to pretty neutral spaces but I have to have some luscious patterns and textile accents for character. Every fabric I choose for Samyoga is something I can imagine in my home and a lot of Samyoga fabrics ARE in my home! Between bolsters, zafus and pillows, my space is brimming with colourful accents. It feels calm, inviting and restful.

Sera: When practicing yoga, what's the most important aspect of the space you are in? (i.e. sound, light, scent, etc...)
Sam: I used to practice with music all the time, but these days I want to move in silence. I have a space at the edge of my (usually unmade) bed, where I roll out my mat. It faces an old gutted out fireplace that serves as an alter for me. There is an ever-changing burn, some palo-santo or incense (I'm in love with the Province Apothecary Black Spruce & Fir Balsam Essential Oil Incense!). These tiny rituals are so powerful and really help me to enter my practice. I live on the ground floor of an old home and the space is such a part of my practice. I love the familiar creaking of the floor as I move, and the sounds of passersby outside my window.

Sera: Which piece from your collection is your favourite and why?
Sam: I use every product I made. Some days I leave the house and realize I am wearing and carrying everything Samyoga. That always makes me smile. My newest item, the Sama Shift Dress is such a dream. I designed it to be an effortless shift dress from the yoga studio to your next adventure. I often just throw it on over my yoga clothes. I am all about effortless dressing and this piece feels so easy and comfortable and elegant. I get compliments every time I wear it.

You can shop all of the Samyoga collection here
Follow Samyoga on Instagram here.

Stay tuned to Simply Sera for more of Samyoga to be featured in May! (You won't want to miss this post!)

And a special thanks to Sam for letting me pick her brain!

Photo credit: J La Rose

About Sam!
Samantha Stephens is the owner and designer of the Samyoga brand. She brings a decade of yoga practice and two decades of fashion design to her work at Samyoga, with strong focus on craftsmanship, textiles and sustainability. She's passionate about yoga, wellness, travel and coffee.

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