JadeYoga has a rich history of transforming the yoga and fitness industry with its commitment to quality and eco-friendliness.
In 1904, Dean Jerrehian’s grandfather started an oriental rug business, Jerrehian Brothers.
Then in the ‘70s, Jerrehian’s father founded Jade Industries and created high-quality rug pads to go underneath the rugs to keep them from slipping.
When Jerrehian took over in the late 1990s, he inherited a business nearly a century old. And it was about to see one of its biggest evolutions yet — the birth of JadeYoga.
It all started with a call. “I picked up the phone one day and somebody is on the line saying, ‘Hey, I think your rug pads would make great yoga mats,’” recalled Jerrehian. “I didn’t know anything about yoga at the time.”
He was into biking, running and skiing, but not yoga. After the call, Jerrehian chatted with those knowledgeable about the industry and everyone agreed: the yoga mats out there were slippery.
“I remember my sister saying her yoga teacher was calling the yoga mats like a surfboard — you knew you were going to fall if you were on it,” said Jerrehian.
Creating yoga mat samples, he sent them out to 500 yoga studios and received 300 phone calls in return. “It was pretty incredible,” said Jerrehian. “People hadn’t seen anything like this before, because we were making these out of natural rubber.”
The yoga mats in the industry at the time were typically PVC, which has a stickiness and slipperiness to it, and no cushion. Natural rubber affords more of a cushion — like rug pads — and grip. “So you’ve got non-toxic, grippy, comfortable — and because it’s made of natural rubber, it’s eco-friendly — and you’ve hit all the boxes a yogi wants,” said Jerrehian.
In the first year of the yoga mat creation, yoga mats were 1% of the business. Now, it is 80% of the business. In the first five years, JadeYoga went up 100% a year in growth. With mats from one-sixteenth of an inch to five-sixteenths of an inch, JadeYoga found offering luxuriously comfortable and grippy mats are what yogis were craving.
“It was nuts; everybody wanted this mat,” recalled Jerrehian. “There was nobody else making a mat like we were, so in the beginning everybody just talked about it. We didn’t really even have to do much in the way of marketing because people would come to us through word of mouth. We were lucky enough we had the solution right in our hands.”
Lucky is right, especially since yoga has boomed over the last 20 years. In 2016, Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance released a study on yoga in America. The stats showed a growing interest in the practice:
- Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. yoga practitioners grew from 20.4 million to 36.7 million.
- By 2016, students spent $16 billion a year on classes, gear and equipment, up from $10 billion in 2012.
- 34% of Americans said they are somewhat or very likely to practice yoga in the next 12 months, which is equal to more than 80 million Americans.
Yoga has proven to stick around, and grow, even in the toughest of conditions. Jerrehian said in 2008 they had thought JadeYoga would be hit hard during the recession, what with selling a luxury item. But it was found people dealt with financial stress by doing yoga. They weren’t going on vacation, so they spent more money on their yoga practice. This repeated itself during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With yoga proving it’s not going anywhere, the reality is if you aren’t serving your current clients yoga, they are probably going somewhere else to get instructions and products. That’s the same for offering yoga mats. “We did some business with a national gym brand a few years ago,” said Jerrehian. “They were using our mats in the club, but they weren’t selling them in their stores, so people were using the mats, enjoying them and then they were going down the street and buying them. Rather than having them spend that money somewhere else, have them spend it in your club.”
If you think about it, even yoga teachers need to do aerobic workouts and weight training, noted Jerrehian. Plus, meditation is starting to take off and is even more accessible than yoga.
All in all, the point is if you’re not serving your clients with yoga offerings, you’re missing out on their yoga dollars.
But just as a good teacher matters to make your offering incredible, so do the products you have in yoga class. With a commitment to quality and eco-friendliness of JadeYoga’s products — which isn’t just mats but also blocks, straps, bolsters, towels, blankets and meditation products — it makes them a standout in the yogi’s mind everywhere.
In fact, JadeYoga is finding itself all over the world. With U.S.-made products, it is shipping to Europe and Asia, and has begun making inroads into South America and Africa.
While offering a quality product is of the utmost importance to JadeYoga, so is the environmental impact. Jerrehian shared he used to be a lawyer for the Environmental Protection Agency in the days before JadeYoga. “I’d go out and have lunch with my friends, and we’d sit around and we would talk about these business ideas,” he recalled. “One of them was to have a business where you make eco-friendly products.”
With JadeYoga’s yoga mats, Jerrehian achieved that dream. However, he was then challenged to go a step further.
Contemplating how the rubber in JadeYoga’s mats is tapped from trees, in 2008 he found an organization called Trees for the Future. The organization has a “teach a person to fish” concept relating to trees. It will go into villages around the world and educate people on why tree planting is important — examples include soil erosion, shade, fuel, crop protection, etc. Partnering with Trees for the Future, JadeYoga has planted over 2 million trees since 2008 as part of a give-back program.
JadeYoga isn’t stopping at planting trees, however. Mats are used to raise money for breast cancer, ovarian cancer and autism causes. Donations to the community have grown participation in various prison yoga projects. It’s preserving rainforests and reducing CO2 via its products as well. “I think people really like that they know they’re giving back with the purchase of our mats,” said Jerrehian.
Whether it’s giving back to the community, enabling a deeper focus on a yogi’s practice or creating a wow-factor product for clubs to use, JadeYoga has made a lasting impact. “I can’t emphasize enough how you want people to want to do yoga, and they’re more likely to want to do it with a good piece of equipment,” said Jerrehian. “The quality equipment is going to make for people to not just enjoy that day, but to keep coming back.”
It all started in 1904 when Jerrehian’s grandfather embodied the slogan, “Rugs of Quality.” And in 2021, JadeYoga has continued the legacy of quality with the mat pulled out from under the rug.