Special thanks to the Centre for Social Innovation and Dan Casey for interviewing founder Jennifer Coulombe on how Sat Nam babe started.
Unlike a lot of other people, Jennifer Coulombe didn't to go business school to get a better job. "I didn't really know what I wanted to do. In my head, I thought 'If have a master's degree, I'll feel like I'm going to be able to just work for myself'" the Brooklyn native said with a chuckle.
Grad school planted one of the seeds that would become socially-conscious kids' yoga clothes brand, Sat Nam babe, when Jen took a class about supply chains that opened her eyes to the environmental and labor problems of fast-fashion manufacturing. Yoga came into the picture when an active practice led her to get a Kundalini yoga-teacher certification in South Africa. So the elements were there, but she didn't connect them through a sudden leap of passion -- instead, she applied some hard-headed business-school rigor.
"I did research in the market, I wanted to find an opportunity in the market, and I wanted it to be something yoga-related," she told us. Seeing growth in both the yoga space and the children's clothing space led her to look for an overlap. "I figured, let me combine the two. There's nothing out here yet, there isn't a company that's only working on kids' clothes, so let me bring it to market and I want to do it in a mindful, conscious way that lets me tell the story of the supply chain and why that's important."
The pieces started coming together when she started as a CSI DECA in the middle of 2016, tipped to the opportunity by an email from Be Social Change. She raised her initial startup capital with a successful crowdfunding campaign on the iFundWomen platform, and other CSI members helped her get her first collection designed and manufactured. "If it wasn't for the connections that I made at CSI the company wouldn't have been able to launch," she asserted. Fellow DECA Javier Garcia -- who was starting his own clothing brand, Suyo, at the same time -- was a "pivotal piece," connecting her with prototyping, supplies and manufacturing support. "I've definitely benefited from the CSI workshops, too. There's so many supporting tools there that have definitely helped me as a new entrepreneur."
With Sat Nam babe up and running, Jen's next challenge is marketing and scaling. She told us that she's "in a few stores right now, but it's mostly direct to consumer at yoga festivals, pop-up markets, and e-commerce." The brand recieved positive mentions in Yoga Journal and SF Yoga Magazine, and it's coverage like that, coupled with a heavy social media presence on Instagram and Facebook, that she's using to share the message. It's that message and mission that Jen kept returning to in our conversation, and that's keeps her focused and mindful of what she's trying to achieve. "Sat nam in sanskrit means 'truth is my identity', so it's really what the company was built on. I wanted to tell kids to be true to themselves, even at that age, to be true to their identities and what they want to accomplish in this life."