Introducing Yoga Concept & Pamela Levy
Shanti Sundays recently made it's Paris debut at the chic yoga hub Yoga Concept Store in the Marais district. Founder Pamela Levy noted the evolution of sportswear taking shape during trips to her native New York and recognised the need for something similar in Paris. Unfulfilled in her law career, Pamela decided it was time to dance to her own tune and broke free from the legal world and set up her business importing US fitness brands.
Pamela has earned a reputation for identifying trends, sourcing established and up and coming brands with a social conscience and introducing them to the sylish tribe of yogi's who frequent the store.
We caught up with Pamela to find out what inspired here to make the leap from the world of corporate law to the wellness focused world of yoga.
SS: Where did you get the idea for the Yoga Concept Store?
PL: I was going back to NYC a few times a year to visit family and noticed that sportswear was evolving. I studied dance so bodysuits and that universe has always been my thing. There was nothing comparable in France so I decided to import upscale Californian brands, initially selling through trunk shows at pilates and yoga studios around Paris. Yoga Concept continues to sell Amercian brands, but we love supporting boutique brands like Shanti Sundays and working with local designers such as Square modern on limited edition collections exclusively for Yoga Concept.
SS: When did it all begin?
PL: I created my company in 2009, starting my website from my living room and in July 2010 I took a retail space in the North Marais which had traditionally been a neighbourhood with many dance schools. There were VERY few yoga studios at the time. French people were not used to stylish sportswear and spending money on exercise clothes. The street chic Parisian women I met at the studios were practically wearing pyjamas to class.
SS: What came first for you, business or yoga?
PL: My yoga practice and my business started hand in hand. I was going to yoga more and more and finally switched over to morning Mysore self practice. I went to Mysore 5 mornings a week for over 5 years which helped give me strength and confidence while starting out in business. The schedule enabled me to practice before heading to the boutique, which I manned by myself 6 days a week for the first two years. Mysore ended up being immensely helpful in that I met every teacher and teacher in training in Paris. It wasn't my intention, it just happened organically.
SS: How has the yoga & wellness scene evolved in Paris?
PL: Since I opened my shop, over 20 studios have opened in Paris and the numer is still growing. More and more companies are offering yoga classes in the workplace for their employess too.
SS: How has Yoga Concept evolved?
PL: I always felt that YC was more than just a retail business with tremendous potential as a platform for charity work, building community and more. Twice a year I host a breakfast where Paris yoga teachers, studio owners, journalists and bloggers get together for a discussion around themes relevant to yoga and wellbeing. We've had experts speak on subjects including yoga nidra, meditation and nutrition, spiritual awakening and the hot new French brands.
The gatherings have helped studios and teaches establish connections they may not have made otherwise.
SS: How do you take yoga off the mat and into the world?
PL: In June we launched our first charity t-shirt "Loveasana" 5€ from each t-shirt was donated to the small Paris based non profit Connection Karma which provides free yoga at centres around Paris (people who are unemployed or without a fixed residence). It's so important to give back to the community. That's the essence of yoga.