Championing the Yoga Lifestyle

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Theresa Shan, Founder of MADANA and Co-Founder of SOULSCAPE, talks about turning her passion into an entrepreneurial reality, and provides #GirlBoss tips to survive 2017.

By Esther Yeo

“To me yoga is a lifestyle for life. Its teachings are about improving you as a person”

Using social media jargon, Theresa Shan is someone you could call an “original gangster”, or OG, of the local yoga scene. She was already practising the yoga lifestyle years before the discipline recently gained traction. Yoga is her life journey and an inseparable part of her being. “Even if I have not been able to practice for a while, it is still something that is deeply ingrained in me,” the guru says.

This passion of hers led to  not only starting just one, but two businesses that centered on yoga and teaching others how to lead a happy, fulfilling life. First, she grew MADANA into a sophisticated eco-lifestyle brand catering to essential yoga needs with well-designed products. On top of that, Theresa just closed a deal to supply all of the international COMO Shambhala resorts yoga mats, blocks and straps.  Together with her partner Marc Dass, Theresa also co-founded SOULSCAPE, a one-stop online platform providing content to inspire, nurture and guide readers to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Silent Yoga at iLight Marina Bay 2017, organised by SOULSCAPE

She admits that running both businesses has been the biggest entrepreneurial challenge , especially in explaining to customers why MADANA’s products are more expensive compared to other labels. When it comes to activewear apparel,Singaporeans tend to exclude the eco-conscious seal of approval from their decision-making process. “People here are still more concerned with style, price, and brand,” she says “But I have been seeing the mentality change over the years, and I hope the brand will continue to grow.”

The rapidly growing yoga industry has never been more accessible and widely-enjoyed today, yet a real concern is whether or not the movement will last in the long run. Theresa is optimistic and insists that it absolutely will. “Yoga is a lifestyle for life,. Even if you don’t do asana [poses] everyday, its teachings are about improving yourself as a person.” Yoga teaches you how to treat others and yourself better, and how to deal with stressful situations – not just the physical fitness aspect of it. “Actually, that is the by-product!” she adds. “As yoga becomes more widely available, it will become more popular.”

SOULSCAPE is a considerable complement to MADANA, as the former provides useful resources through organising events and exciting festivals that celebrate clean living. Having started the platform with her spouse, here are some practical advice Theresa wants to give to female entrepreneurs in the same situation out there.

  1. Develop a habit of conducting yourselves well in the office. “Call each other by your actual names and not your pet names. In front of staff and clients, that already can be a bit strange. But it ultimately depends on how both of you as a couple feel about this”
  2. Be realistic about leaving work in the office. Sometimes, the inevitable happens where work needs to be discussed at home. “What I find important is to ensure we see each other’s point of view and give each other the time to speak while the other listens,” she says. “Or if that all fails, ensure you are working on 2 completely different areas of the business.”
  3. Work smarter, not harder. Be it working with a spouse or not, the key is to be discerning in choosing who and what is best for the brand. “That is my mantra for 2017!” Theresa exclaims, and we couldn’t agree more.

Images by Theresa Shan and SOULSCAPE

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