Married Couple Launches Yoga Business with 'Intention'


Josh & Elyse Headshot Josh and Elyse Nickell met and fell in love during a yoga teacher training course in Chicago. Now married, the avid yogis decided to channel their passion for yoga into a business: Sankalpa Yoga Community. Not quite one year into the entrepreneurial adventure, Josh spoke with Name.Kitchen about their yoga-inspired startup and the legacy behind its name.

What is Sankalpa Yoga Community?

We sell artist-designed yoga mats, and other products with yoga-inspired designs. Each product and every design represents an independent yoga teacher. Both the artist who created the design and the yoga teacher receive a royalty for every product sold bearing their design.

Explain 'Sankalpa.'

Sankalpa is a traditional Sanskrit word that means "intention." Our business provides a platform for yoga teachers to express their Sankalpa and philosophy through custom designs created to represent each Sankalpa yoga teacher. Our brand seeks to foster community among teachers, artists, and students.

What was your process for coming up with the business name?

It was an ongoing brainstorm that took place almost constantly over the course ofthree to four weeks. My wife and co-founder, Elyse, and I would be in the middle of a yoga class or having a glass of wine at dinner, and suddenly a new option would pop into our mind.

What were you looking for during these ad hoc brainstorms?

We’d consider whether the name was relevant and suitable for the brand, going back and forth on whether it had a ring to it, whether the domain name was available, whether it had been trademarked, etc. A couple of other options were 'Karma Mat,' 'Karma Yoga,' 'Sankalpa Yoga' and 'Yogo.'

'Yogo'? Seriously?

Yeah, almost always there was some kind of hang up, or the name just didn’t have the right ring. But when Elyse said "Sankalpa Yoga Community!" late one Saturday night as we were both watching a movie on the couch, we knew we’d found our name.

How did you know that it was right name?

The word "sankapla" is a little esoteric outside of the yoga world, but I think lends itself well to fostering authenticity within the yoga community and to the yoga teachers we represent. We’ve also tied the name into our product, asking each teacher to provide a sankalpa for the students who will practice on their yoga mat.

One of the company's many yoga mat designs.