Read YogaByCandace's in depth interview of OM Matters founder, Tambra Wayne, and discover the inspiration behind the company's inception and it's dreams to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth.
YBC: Introduce yourself! Tell us about your involvement with OM Matters.
TW: OM Matters is brand new! We launched in May 2016 and as the owner of a start-up business, I’m involved with every step---which I love (for now). My background is in commercial real estate and many of those skills are very helpful in starting a new business, especially marketing and customer relations. What I really enjoy is being creative and expressive. It is also fun to learn something new. Aside from learning about the clothing industry, social media and all the software used in an e-commerce business, I am constantly exploring yoga in many different levels.
YBC: How did OM Matters get its start?
TW: It was time! I had worked in the corporate world for 30 years and it was time for me to do something different, something meaningful. I really wanted to do something that makes a difference in others’ lives. So, with the amazing support of my husband (we had only been married for 1 year) I retired from commercial real estate. I combined my passion for yoga with helping at-risk youth and started OM Matters, an eco-friendly yoga company that contributes 10% of all proceeds to fund yoga for at-risk youth.
YBC: What makes OM Matters different from other companies that sell yoga or athletic apparel?
TW: We are passionate about inspiring people to bring mindfulness into their everyday lives and to have a conscious awareness that every action we take matters. Through our yoga clothing and the events we sponsor, we endorse positive spirituality and self-care built on the timeless tenets of yogic tradition. Here’s how we do that:
- Our clothing line promotes the 8 Limbs of Yoga
- We give 10% of all proceeds to fund yoga for at-risk youth
- All our products are manufactured in the USA
- We use eco-friendly materials
YBC: OM Matters’ shirts offer some really beautiful, artistic designs. Could you tell us the inspiration behind some of those images?
TW: Our vision for our breakout line was inspired by the 8 Limbs of Yoga, outlined in Patañjali’s ancient text the Yoga Sūtras. Most of us are exposed to yoga as a physical practice, but it is so much more than that---it is a way of life. The physical practice, āsana in Sanskrit, is the 3rd limb and is only 1/8th of what yoga is really about! I want to share with other’s the powerful teachings of all of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. So we created 8 beautiful and thought-provoking images representing each of the 8 Limbs. International artist, Stina Persson, did a spectacular job creating these designs specifically for our collection. On the back of each shirt is a description of each limb.
YBC: Tell us about the concept of ahimsa. How does OM Matters implement the idea of ahimsa into its business practice?
TW: The 1st limb of yoga is yamas, which are ethical principles that emphasize our connection to others and the world. The yamas consist of 5 practices, the 1st is ahimsā. Ahimsā guides us towards non-harming: the true foundation of the yoga practice. We avoid doing harm not only to others, animals, and the planet, but also to ourselves.
Our intent at OM Matters is to create a business that exemplifies the teaching of ahimsā. One way to do that is to be kind to our environment. We have established “Our Ahimsā Promise” policy which is:
- We source, manufacture, and package all of our clothing in southern California, reducing our carbon footprint by avoiding shipments from overseas manufacturers.
- We use eco-friendly products made with natural, synthetic-free, and biodegradable fabrics.
- We use recycled materials to package all our products.
YBC: How does OM Matters benefit at-risk youth?
TW: It’s really quite simple. For every purchase we contribute 10% of the proceeds to fund yoga for at-risk youth. We identify groups who would benefit from yoga and match them up with organizations that can provide the yoga classes and education for youth. We try to make the events meaningful to the youth. One of our favorites is our Farm to Yoga event. At our last event, kids of all ages and their adoptive parents joined us at Suzie’s Farm, a 140-acre USDA-certified organic farm in San Diego County, to participate in a family-friendly yoga class, tour the farm’s vegetable gardens and chicken coops, and at the end of the day we sat down to a beautifully prepared vegetarian dinner made with fruits and vegetables right from the farm… and the kids loved it, especially the strawberry shortcake! Of course, the point of the day was that the kids and parents learned a little bit about taking care of their bodies with yoga and organic food. They also learned about farming and the importance of taking care of our earth so we can continue to grow healthy produce. Everyone was dirty and exhausted by the end of the day, but the kids called it one of the best days of their lives! Priceless!
YBC: How did helping impoverished and at-risk youth become a focal point of the OM Matters’ vision?
TW: I have been volunteering for a wonderful not-for-profit organization, San Diego Youth Services, for 15 years. Through mentoring and becoming a respite provider for some of their foster youth and then being on the board of directors, I learned firsthand the amazing work this organization has done for our youth. One of the main goals for starting my own company was to have a give-back component that could make a difference to others on a larger scale. Reflecting on the positive impact yoga had on my life, along with my desire to continue working with at-risk youth, it was a natural fit for OM Matters to commit 10% of its proceeds to fund yoga for at-risk youth.
YBC: Why do you think so many people struggle to make time for mindfulness or self-care?
TW: My guess is that people just don’t realize what they’re missing. Yes, they have heard all the great benefits of meditation, a physical yoga practice, etc., but until they have experienced it themselves it may be difficult for them to understand the importance of a mindfulness practice routine. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a negative experience to get someone to focus on self-care. It happened to me ONCE. When I was working in commercial real estate I had a high-profile client and I was helping them with a controversial public development project. My client and I were under a lot of scrutiny which played out publicly in the newspapers and television. For several months I was working long hours, under complete stress, not eating right, exercising or meditating. The pressure affected me physically and mentally. I felt I was on the verge of a panic attack and my brain kind of froze. I knew well enough that I needed to start taking care of myself. I went for a run and was amazed how much better I felt! From that day on I refused to let circumstances control my life like that. I committed to taking care of myself first. Then I can serve others.
YBC: How do you engage in a personal mindfulness practice?
TW: I use the niyamas, the 2nd limb of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, to guide my mindfulness and self-care practice. The niyamas provide teachings to help us respect ourselves---mind, body and spirit. My practices are always evolving---different times call for different supportive practices and changing it up keeps it fresh and engaging. Currently, my daily morning routine consists of meditating for 15 minutes, identifying 3 to 5 reasons I am grateful and reciting positive affirmations. (It is so important to practice thinking positive thoughts, it helps keep the negative ones at bay.) My physical practice consists of 2-3 āsana classes and 2-3 cardio workouts per week. Plus I love learning about yoga and other self-development topics so I am consistently reading, listening to podcasts, watching youtube videos, etc.
YBC: What advice would you like to offer our readers (and the rest of the world)?
TW: Yoga teaches us that everything is interconnected and, therefore, our thoughts and actions DO matter. The 8 Limbs of Yoga provides a set of mindful practices that encourage us think and act with more loving kindness to ourselves, others and our planet. If someone is new to mindfulness, start with one practice. I would recommend meditating for 5 minutes a day. Once this becomes a habit gradually increase the time. And then add another self-care practice to your routine. Focus on feeling good. Play, experiment, learn and enjoy. Life is a work in progress.