As a longtime yoga practitioner, Lisa Brown had purchased yoga mats for many years but not one of them had ever reflected the actual African heritage of the practice of yoga. Eventually, the irony of this occurred to her but so did the opportunity of it and almost immediately she began working to fill that obvious void.
With yoga pants in all colors and patterns now being an almost ubiquitous fashion staple, one would have thought that the yoga mat would have been claimed as a personal palette also, but one has only to look within any yoga studio, large or small in suburbia or the inner city to see a sea of sameness everywhere you go.
Some ideas just seem like they have a predestined time to come to fruition. And it seems like Brown has found the exact right time for her product. The still working Atlanta-based actress, model and newly licensed Realtor™ now adds two additional titles to her résumé: creator and owner of Inner Alkebulan™ by Black Lotus Kemetic yoga mats and accessories. The line is currently found exclusively on her newly launched e-commerce site, LisaBrownsTreasures.com.
“I had been thinking about launching an online boutique for quite some time, so launching LisaBrownsTreasures.com was going to happen anyway. The surprise addition came when I was researching hot-selling items on Amazon and saw that yoga mats were high on the list. I have been into different types of yoga for years and it occurred to me that they all looked pretty much the same,” she says.
According to Brown, the idea of giving her mats an African aesthetic was a natural outgrowth of her ongoing immersion into African studies and African American history. You see, Brown knew that Egypt, known in ancient times as Kemet, was the birthplace of a complex system of postures and breathing that was later codified in India as “yoga.” Yet, that knowledge is not common except among the dedicated, and growing, groups practicing Kemetic yoga around the world. Lisa, whose deceased dad was a life-long entrepreneur, intuitively felt that she had a viable product concept in the making. The name “Inner Alkebulan” as selected because Alkebulan was, according to some scholars, the original name for the continent of Africa and she wanted the line to reflect design elements from across the continent.
Included in the line now are mats that feature images of ankhs, scarabs, the Eye of Horus, the flagship Ma’at mat that uses a papyrus pattern background and a distinctive design featuring a West African wax print. Brown says that more designs will be rolled out over time.
Working along parallel paths to create her online store and new line of mats, plus attend to her other interests and family, proved to be challenging in time and energy, but the glowing reaction she received from her prototype samples reassured her that she was on the right path to creating something of merit.
“We were getting reactions to the product that went way beyond people just liking the physical object, they also had a real visceral reaction to the imagery … something was connecting deep within them. We were tapping into the power of iconography and symbolism to an extent that even we didn’t realize. It was, and is, incredibly exciting to see how people respond to the mats!” Brown says.
It appears that, that affect on people Brown describes is no isolated phenomenon, it is like it is almost a latent cultural reflex. In the brief time that the mats been on the market, Brown and her products have already received glowing national coverage online.
“It’s been both awesome and humbling. We knew we were on to something, but it’s exceeding our wildest dreams … well, maybe not … I do tend to dream big!” she says.
That seems like an understatement for this busy businesswoman.
And by the way, the mats are great! They are made from eco-friendly natural rubber and have a suede microfiber surface that, counterintuitively, gains traction with moisture and sweat. That’s appropriate since it seems the sweat equity of Lisa Brown is gaining her traction as well.