Spotlight: Joanna Feldheim on Cultivating Beauty, Sustainability and ‘Tools for an Enlightened Life’

Seeing a problem and solving it is easier said than done. So is following your dreams, but for Joanna Feldheim, a creative director and product developer starting her own online yoga shop from the ground up was a mountain she was willing to build AND climb. Feldheim created PRITI with one simple mission: to bring quality, beauty and sustainability to our yoga mats and beyond. Read on for our Spotlight interview!



So, what do you do for a living?

I am creative director and product developer. As a creative director, it’s my job to develop brands and new products for my clients and solve complex problems that support marketing objectives including positioning platforms, brand identity, advertising and application to the digital space.

Actually, PRITI blossomed from scratch when I listened to my own intuition regarding a need for better yoga tools combined with years of developing brands.

With PRITI, your tagline is “tools for an enlightened life.” What inspired you to create your shop and what sorts of tools do you offer? Enlighten us.

One day during yoga class I thought: “What’s with these itchy, acrylic Mexican horse saddle blankets?!” I couldn’t figure out their relationship to the yoga experience! I’ve practiced Iyengar for over 15 years and fell in love with India’s culture and people. Those blankets were a yoga prop that made me wonder where India was represented. I saw this as a problem and decided to do something about it.

Yoga props and tools were introduced by B.K.S. Iyengar, who introduced props into the modern practice of yoga to allow everyone access to the benefits of the postures. Props encourage students, bolster confidence, and create optimal body alignment. I researched and interviewed U.S. yoga teachers while creating PRITI and learned that their students are overachieving. With our fast-paced lifestyles and the tendency to compete and strive— some students tend to push their bodies too hard.  I was inspired by the notion of creating new and better tools to allow students to experience the postures more profoundly— regardless of age, level of study or physical condition.

Our most proprietary tool we have created is our cotton yoga blanket line. We also offer a yoga strap, buddha, eye pillow and meditation cushion. We are currently developing more new PRITIproducts which fall under our mantra that PRITI provides multi-dimensional goods that are highly functional, mindful and provide transparency between your practice, purpose, rest and play.

How has yoga influenced you as a business owner and entrepreneur?

Great question! Yoga clears and slows the mind, makes the body more supple and symmetrical, improves posture and alignment, and opens the chest cavity allowing more oxygen to flow. Inversions fine-tune my hormones as well. These openings facilitate more clarity with business decisions, endurance with long work hours and an overall sense of well-being. Such benefits extend to balance between work, parenting and leisure.

Facing the mat is a microcosm of thoughts and feelings that expand and mirror my life — most significantly to practice patience with myself and all others. For example, when I practice ahimsa (non-harm) to my body during asana practice, my thoughts extend to “non-harm” to my business practices: extending kindness and non-harm to PRITI customers, the weavers, craftspeople and the environment.

Slow and steady growth on the mat also extends to my environment. My teacher reinforces that it takes years to notice improvement and master poses. Since my goal is to produce quality, natural product my choice is to grow slowly with few shortcuts therefore less monetary gain. Real change comes slowly, therefore, as an entrepreneur I have learned to practice patience, to roll with the punches with delays, quality control and many challenges of a start-up.

Running your own business can have its difficulties, especially when you’re seeking to go sustainable. What was the hardest part about getting your shop up and running?

The hardest part about getting our shop up and running is maintaining the flow of cash and inventory. India is a land of contrasts and contradictions. The people we are dealing with are quite genuine, however things are intrinsically chaotic and inevitably delayed despite their intentions.

What is currently your favorite item in the shop?

I have a few but one of my absolute favorites is our Mantra Tee. The fit is great and it gets softer and more genuine as it is washed. In addition to the white, we are introducing a charcoal gray color.

Are you planning to add any new items we should keep an eye out for?

Yes, please keep an eye out for a new handmade woven thin yoga blanket / coverlet called “Priti Lounge Throw” which —because of it’s thinner girth— it is a fantastic yoga blanket for fine tuning your asana practice as well as great gift. For 2015, we are in the design stage of introducing a small line of organic yoga garments targeted to 35-55 women practitioners who are seeking to find high quality cotton yoga apparel beyond a size 12.

If your shop had a scent it would be: Tea tree oil or lavender or…?

Indian Rose at it’s purest form as it is the most precious and healing. Currently we are working toward aligning ourselves with a premium rose producer to distribute their line in the USA. Please like us on facebook or visit us to gain from PRITI benefits and promotions.

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