Launching a new business is never easy; launching one amid the backdrop of a global pandemic? Now that's a big ask. But that's exactly what sisters Sophie and Charlotte Wilson have done with their activewear brands, YANA.
We caught up with them to hear a little more about their product, how they're adapting to changing consumer expectations, and their predicitions for the future of the wellness industry.
What is YANA Active’s mission?
YANA’s mission is to empower women by creating comfortable, high performing and stylish activewear, whilst encouraging our ‘everyday warriors’ to unite as one community to support the achievement of each other’s goals.
How did YANA Active come about?
We live very active lives; we both have full time jobs, develop property and love to stay active at all times. For us, activewear isn’t just clothing you can work out in; it’s clothing you can work in. We wanted to create a brand that encompasses comfort, performance and high-end style for busy, courageous women on demanding days – or ‘everyday warriors’ as we like to refer to our YANA customers.
Charlotte and I are sisters and we look after each other no matter what. We took inspiration from strong women in our lives, and those throughout history. In particular, The Amazonian women; warriors who stood together in unity to protect each other. We wanted YANA to encompass this sense of community and encourage all involved to share their goals and support one another to reach them. We create garments that support the body, with content via our blog and community that supports the mind.
Tell us about the ‘sciency-stuff’ behind your activewear?
YANA stretch-wear uses specialist technology that combats the appearance of cellulite. Nilit® Innergy fibres make use of Far Infra-Red (FIR) rays that gently warm the deeper layers of the skin; gentle heating contributes to the shaping of fat cells and smoothing of the skin. NILIT Innergy is polyamide (PA) 6.6 microfiber with built in FIR (far infrared ray) properties. The mineral additive found in the yarn converts the thermo energy of the human body into FIR and reflects it back to the skin tissues causing deep, gentle heating. The gentle heat emitted by the fibres invigorates and energizes the body and helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
What’s been the response you’ve had so far? Has there been a ‘lightbulb moment’ where you knew your business had the power to change lives?
We’ve had an incredible journey over the first 6 months, the feedback on our products and the community we’ve started to develop has been great. We had a customer who tested our leggings out for pole dancing and gave us some of the best feedback “your leggings are not only squat proof, but split proof”!
One of our favourite moments was when we were contacted by a fashion student at Northumbria University. Our ethos resonated so strongly with her it led her to encompass some of it into her final project! For us, that was incredible to hear. YANA is so much more than ‘just activewear’, if we can use our brand and platforms to inspire those in our community to follow their dreams by seeing other women doing it, then we’re achieving our mission. There are so many opportunities for women to be told “you can’t do this” or “you don’t make the cut” or “you’re not good enough”, we’re trying to show that actually, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to if you have the support around you to do so.
What has been the greatest challenge to your business so far?
Raising awareness of YANA as a new activewear brand has been difficult, maybe more so than we initially anticipated. It’s a slow process and we’ve got to be patient, but we believe in our products, our mission and our vision!
Do you think wellness has become a way of life for your consumers?
Absolutely! Now more than ever people are more conscious of their mental and physical health.
On a personal level, what is your mantra in life?
Be tough, be ambitious and know exactly what you want!
What advice would you share with anyone wanting to launch a new business?
Do your research and be 100% committed. If you’re not willing to put the work in, don’t expect to get results. If you truly believe in your idea/business you’ll find a way to make it work – Phil Knight started Nike his parent’s basement and everyone thought he was crazy, now who’s crazy?!
What are you most excited to discover at this year's Balance Festival?
We can’t wait to connect with like-minded businesses and people across the industry. YANA launched in Dec 2019 and due to Covid-19 all events we were planning to attend/hold in early 2020 had to be postponed. Balance will be the first fitness festival we’ve ever taken YANA to, so we’re super hyped to get feedback and see how we can better improve. We also can’t wait to try out some HIIT classes and try lots of the healthy food on offer!
What do you think is the next big thing in the world of wellness?
Following the recent Covid-19 pandemic, we can see there’s going to be a huge shift in the way people work. We feel it’s almost slowed the world down, given everyone time to think and reflect and we genuinely believe that people are going to take more time to look after both their mental and physical health. Working out from home has been made so accessible in recent months and fitness trainers/gyms have shown how easy it can be to get a bit of exercise in anywhere, any time!