VANYA SPIRIT

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Name and company: Jennie Dozier, Chief Creatress of Vanya

Website :  vanyaspirit.com

Where are you based? : Sebastopol, CA


ND : Tell me a little about your business, what do you feel was the impetus to startup?

VS : The birth of Vanya, began shortly after I completed my yoga teacher training and was inspired to design a new yoga prop. I love to hike and be outdoors. I spend a lot of my time wandering in the wilds and always thought about ways in which I could bring my practice outside. One day, as I was hiking through the forest near my home in Northern California, I decided to take a break and sit beneath an old redwood tree.  It was while meditating and soaking up the medicine of the forest that the vision of Vanya was created. Looking around at the natural beauty I was surrounded by, I decided to design something lovely that I could carry with me everywhere. Pausing to consider how much my life had been positively transformed by my practices, I knew I wanted to craft something that promoted living a mindful life. I shuffled against the tree, trying to find a comfortable spot, and smiled. Perhaps a cushion that could multi-task as a vessel for items like my keys and wallet would be perfect too.  And so, Vanya was born.  Vanya means “the spirit of the forest” in Sanskrit.  Our philosophy is to inspire a reconnection with the earth and our own inner wisdom for wholehearted conscious living.

ND : Whereabouts are you teaching at the moment and where can we find your wonderful products?

VS : Right now, you can find my meditation bags online at vanyaspirit.com and in a few of the surrounding studios in my home town.  One thing that I enjoy a lot is collaboration. I’m always open to collaborating with businesses and individuals that hold a similar vision in alignment with ours  Currently, I am not teaching yoga, I am working on cultivating a practice at home.

ND : The meditation cushion/travel bag you have created is a really innovative design, do you think the way you design and create is very instinctive?

VS : I love when things are multifunctional and I live by the concept “do more with less.” The cushions can be used as an alternative to a bolster for extra support during your yoga practice. I use mine as a pillow in savasana, a chair during ceremony, as a seat at my altar in sacred space, and for sitting on the earth when I am meditating and communing with nature.  They are great for bringing to workshops and classes where you might be sitting on the ground.  When you completely remove the inner cushion, the bag transforms into a carry-all for your daily adventures.  The shoulder strap of the bag also detaches to become a yoga or stretching strap.  So many ways to utilize one item!

nomad design, atelier, travel, food, yoga, textiles, love, health, wealth, wellness, mindfulness,
nomad design, atelier, travel, food, yoga, textiles, love, health, wealth, wellness, mindfulness,

ND : Empowering women is one of the pillars you have founded your company upon, why has this become important to you and to your company? 

Jennie with a few of the ladies she works with.

Jennie with a few of the ladies she works with.

VS : In many remote and Indigenous communities today, weaving still remains the work of women and is often a chosen career that allows women to work from home while taking care of their children. However, the demand and compensation for woven textiles is often low and unpredictable.  At Vanya, we respect the time, energy and effort that goes into the art of weaving and continue to support these women by traveling to their villages and purchasing the textiles directly from them at fair-trade costs. By doing so, we choose to help transform their handmade items into goods that support their art and families. By supporting the women weavers, we help to sustain their culture and the continuation of these art forms so that future generations can enjoy these traditions.

ND : Like Nomad Design your company also uses Ikat, how did you come across the fabric and what is it about Ikat that you find enchanting?

Weaving Indonesian Ikat

Weaving Indonesian Ikat

VS : My first time traveling to Bali was back in 2004. I remember visiting many temples and attending some of the ceremonies.  Everyone is required to wear a sarong when entering the temples to pray.  I purchased my first ikat textile back then so I could wear the proper attire when attending ceremony.  I fell in love with the fabric so much that I had some pillows made too.  Later, I came to find out that my Aunt had traveled to Indonesia 30 years prior to study the art of ikat with the weavers in Bali. My aunt has been a huge inspiration and influence for me in the art world.  She joined me on my journey back to Bali to help source some of the textiles for this collection.  I guess you can say that a love for ikat runs in the family!

nomad design, atelier, travel, food, yoga, textiles, love, health, wealth, wellness, mindfulness,
nomad design, atelier, travel, food, yoga, textiles, love, health, wealth, wellness, mindfulness,

ND : What do you think was the toughest decision you had to make when you started? 

VS : The hardest part for me was trusting and taking that leap of faith to start a business. I knew in my heart that I would be supported and everything would fall into place if I believed enough in my vision.  I do not consider myself a “designer.” I came up with an idea and I ran with it.  Every step along the way had been a new experience for me.  Most of the time, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I learn from my mistakes, and as I continue to trust my vision,  everything some how magically aligns.

ND : What’s the best piece of advice you have been given with regards to starting your business? 

VS : Don’t give up!  There is a point in every project, where the excitement of the original idea begins to wear off and you’re left with a lot to do.   The best words of wisdom I have received is “don’t give up.”  Keep working towards your goals and things will begin to manifest.  I believe you can turn any idea into a profitable business with a lot of passion and motivation.

The Vanya Bag used as a meditation cushion.

The Vanya Bag used as a meditation cushion.

ND : What do the first two hours of your day look like, do you have any rituals? 

Yes, morning rituals are a great way to start off the day in a sacred way.  When I wake, I begin by cleansing my space with sage.  Sage is a wonderful plant ally that helps clear unwanted energy.  I try to smudge my home at least once a day.  Then I take some time to sit at my altar and meditate while I wait for the water to boil.  I love coffee, but lately I’ve been enjoying warm water with licorice root. Afterwards, I turn some music on and stretch out on my yoga mat. Taking this time for myself in the morning, always seems to set me up for a peaceful and productive day.

ND : Lastly, how lucky are you, and why?

VS : I feel blessed to be surrounded by a community of strong and wise women who have supported my path as well as my vision for Vanya.  I am grateful for all the generations of wisdom keepers that have passed down their knowledge and traditions. I look forward to connecting with more inspiring women around the world.  May we continue to weave a web of creativity and empowerment.

The Full Moon Ceremony

The Full Moon Ceremony