Any relationship worth holding onto requires effort. It’s about taking that extra step—or maybe a lot of extra steps—but putting in the time and energy to cultivate a balanced and mutual partnership is always worth it. When Kelly Peyton, founder of Ma Wovens, decided to create a conscious woven goods company, she first contemplated the impact her yoga mats would have on the planet.
It was a no-brainer to source less toxic materials than the non-biodegradable, cancer-causing synthetic PVC regularly used in yoga mats. When designing their signature Ritual Rug, Kelly landed on hemp, one of the strongest natural fibers available. But going the extra mile to source a low-impact material and ensure an eco-friendly product for consumers has its challenges.
Surprisingly, hemp is still making its way into the American psyche as a legitimate option for natural fibers. It’s been a slow moving process to get the plant recognized as an ordinary agricultural commodity in the U.S., despite growing research showing a myriad of benefits it has for the environment. It’s natural, requires no synthetic fertilizers or pesticide, and reduces soil contamination. Even so, anyone in the states looking to work with hemp has to defer to the global market, which can be an intimidating landscape to navigate.
“When I started out, I had no idea how difficult sourcing and creating a hemp product would be. After contending with outrageous shipping costs and attempting to get to know hemp production facilities from around the world, I was pretty disheartened. It was extremely important for me to find a manufacturing partner in line with our holistic approach to production that shared the same values for providing a yoga mat that was both high performing and healthy for the end user. It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually I was referred to a progressive hemp production facility in Northern China. There I got to experience firsthand where the hemp textile comes from, straight from the earth, before being manufactured into yarn and the product. It added a level of authenticity to the whole experience.”
For entrepreneurs and small business owners, the financial and operational barriers to utilizing ethical materials can make or break their decision to produce mindful products. Without sustainable options, consumers won’t have the buying power to make a purchasing decision supporting a waste-free future. That’s why brands like Ma Wovens are important. By making a commitment and putting in the extra work despite the hurdles, Ma Wovens makes it possible for people to connect with their environment and do what they love, naturally.
“This whole experience has been a roller coaster of trial and error, but nothing less than gratifying. I know now that everyone who is working with or advocating for the use of hemp is facing challenges, but we still do it anyway. We do it because we know it’s the future to a better way for our environment and people. It takes a little more time and care to get there, but patience is what yoga is all about. We’re in this for the long haul.”
Join RANGE in supporting the brand by donating to Ma Wovens’ Kickstarter campaign for their handwoven Ritual Rug before Friday, October 5.
Images by Shaun Daley.
This article was originally published in RANGE Magazine Issue Nine.