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Check Out Annette Dale-Kramek’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Annette Dale-Kramek.

Hi Annette, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I didn’t want to own my own company, but when my idea of creating a yoga clothing line to offer wholesale to retailers was rejected by Prana, Speedo, Patagonia, Adidas, Spyder and Head, I knew it had to be done. It was 1993 and yoga was not a household word. Yoga Journal publication was still in newsprint form. The 1st Yoga Journal Conference had not happened. No yoga clothing collection existed. Who can imagine a world without yoga pants? I was told it would never happen. I decided to start my apparel business flying solo. The healing power of yoga and meditation gave me back my life after brain surgery at 30 years old.

What motivated me? I was a Senior Skiwear Designer at Warnaco in Los Angeles who was instrumental in bringing an $8M division to $28 M in 2 years. I had a gift of figuring out what would sell well with a keen sense of designs that customers loved. I was flying high until I was stopped in my tracks with a health crisis at 30 that made me do a 180-degree pivot in my life. I shifted my trajectory in 1992, when I began meditating to heal my body following paralysis from surgery.

How did the line begin? It began by traveling to Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, where my good friend set up a meeting with the buyer of their shop. We talked. I drew pencil sketches. She wrote a check for $4K and the 1st yoga line was created. Phone calls, travel, and determination brought the line to multiple retailers and other adventuresome and visionary retailers.

Bringing the line to Yoga Journal Conferences gave me an in-depth understanding of what yoga teachers and students were wanting to wear and we sold hundreds of pieces. They were so grateful my line acknowledged them, which Brough hugs and tears. I was so honored and so were they. I was an avid student for decades and studied with the top teachers worldwide.

What did yoga wear look like in 1993? The line was steeped in modesty and simplicity as was yoga then. Colors were muted and classy and timeless. I still have original pieces. We had women’s and men’s styles. People were thrilled. The fabrics were organic lycra.

29 years later, I am happily running my own business and planning for growth. Buyers love the depth and insight I can provide them as I direct their merchandising selections and create luxurious soft inspirational custom tees and hoodies. I have been called the original yoga apparel expert among retail buyers and studio owners.
Media bio

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The struggles have been mostly missing a business partner with funding so we could grow our retail stores. It takes decent funding to go to shows on a regular basis and to fund workers who are experts in apparel growth. People wonder how I can be vulnerable with designs and putting myself out there. I have not found this to be a struggle, even with an invisible disability. Sometimes my paralyzed vocal cord limits me a bit, but like anyone, self care is vital when you own a business.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am mostly proud that I stand true to who I am. I love including the teachings of yoga and ancient wisdom that is inspiring to people. Studying the depths of yoga and being the customer at yoga retreats has opened my eyes to the ancient wisdom held in Sanskrit teachings that is so relevant to our lives today. I love having so many years of expertise in the yoga apparel niche. I am considered and expert because I was way ahead of the trend 29 years ago. This feels good and I love helping my retailers grow their customer love as well as sales.

What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Never give up. Never give up on your bodies ability to heal. Keep seeking methods that will benefit your body, mind, and spirit when you face challenges. Never give up on your business. Surround yourself with positive encouraging people who can support you with your vision. Find community groups or coaches that up level you. Ask your customers questions and check in about how your product is selling for them. What are they looking for? How did your items sell?

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