…From my mom, “Happiness is a choice, not a condition”, is a phrase I carry with me always and try to also instill in my stepson. It’s really goes hand in hand with something you are taught in yoga, which is quite simply that you cannot control the actions of others but you can control how you react to them. I try to always maintain a positive outlook and it’s served me well so far.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lizzie Brown. Lizzie is the CEO and co-founder of Yoga Wake Up, an app for iOS and Android designed to wake you up peacefully with short, audio-guided yoga and meditation from bed. Prior, Ms. Brown co-founded KAMALA Collective, a PR, marketing and app development agency with her husband, during which she managed and launched PR campaigns across more than 50 fitness and wellness brands including some of the most sought after, recognized athletic wear labels in women’s apparel. A born trailblazer and entrepreneur, Ms. Brown has owned three successful businesses, launching her first agency at 23 years old. Now she is merging her two great loves — personal wellness and relationship building with the intention of improving the lives of us all, shortly after we wake up to begin our day.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Thank you! I moved to Los Angeles from my hometown of Gainesville, Florida, exactly three days after graduating from University of Florida in 2004. You could say I was eager to get a headstart on my career in public relations. Shortly thereafter, in 2007, I co-founded Dell et Ruhs, a boutique PR agency specializing in emerging fashion and lifestyle brands. As my lifestyle and that of my business partner began to evolve, so did our clients and we dove into the athleisure space that was really taking off in 2010 onward. We had the privilege of launching PR campaigns for female-founded fit-fashion brands such as Carbon38 and Lorna Jane. Then in 2013, I moved on to create a wellness-geared agency with my husband Joaquin, called KAMALA Collective, where we could also work on iOS apps together and offer more across digital media. It was only a matter of time before we were building apps of our own and thankfully, with our third try, Yoga Wake Up, we found one that could be career making. Now I am proud to be CEO of the first ever “yoga alarm clock”.
Why did you found your company?
Joaquin and I co-founded Yoga Wake Up with an intention of improving the lives of others through something that we cherish very much, and that is our yoga practice. We honestly feel so blessed to have found this practice and we believe wholeheartedly in its positive, life-changing effects. But it really goes deeper than that for us. We have an inside joke that if we could bottle up and sell the love and happiness we share, the world would be a really amazing place. We try to pour that intention into everything we do with Yoga Wake Up from how we care for and propel the teachers forward to how we communicate with our users carefully and with empathy. We want to cultivate a thriving business that is a genuine contribution to the wealth, health and happiness of others. We’re not into greed and we’re not into power. We just want to produce something that helps people thrive.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
The obvious answer is that we’re the first ever “yoga alarm clock” providing audio-guided instruction that is convenient and easy enough for everybody. We all have 15 minutes at the start of our day to implement these kinds of actions and right now, they’re often being consumed by social media scrolling or hitting snooze a couple more times. With Yoga Wake Up, we are providing a very unique, actionable alternative to an otherwise loathed or mundane time of day. That said, we also really want to shake things up in the yoga world. Right now we see two things happening. Teachers are generally underpaid for the service they’re providing and yoga in a lot of ways, has lost its way with the invention of Instagram and the “insta-yogi” culture. In the longterm, companies like ours that pay a revenue share to the teachers are so helpful in providing them a sustainable supplemental income so they can be paid what they’re worth. For us, it’s the only way to do this. The teachers are providing the transformation — Yoga Wake Up is the vehicle. As for Instagram’s influence on yoga, we are addressing this by creating an intimate yogic experience. Yoga Wake Up is audio-only for a reason. You just woke up. You don’t need to impress anyone but you. There’s no “handstands” or dancer poses or sexy bikini shots of anyone practicing. You won’t see that on our app because it is so important to us to be inclusive and inviting to yogis of all skill level and all shapes and sizes. Our motto is Yoga for Everybody and we love that as a result, we attract teachers that also really walk that walk. The bonus result of this is also eliminating screentime upon waking up. Sad to say it, but pretty sure smartphone addiction is in need of some disrupting, and I am happy that Yoga Wake Up’s audio-only nature is primed for helping people reduce that urge.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
My biggest supporters are my husband and business partner, Joaquin, and my mom, both of which have always believed in me and given me confidence to go after what I want. Some of the best advice along the way has come from mentors such as Daina Slekys Trout, CEO and co-founder of Health Ade, as well as Maxi Kozler Koven of LDR Ventures, who is doing so much for female and minority founders. I’ve also gotten great advice and support from friends and fellow entrepreneurs Alana Suroff, Clover PR, and Sarah Gibson Tuttle, Olive & June. And finally, I have to recognize our lawyer and big champion of Yoga Wake Up, Sarah Chambless of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. As a company they take great care in supporting women really going above and beyond the scope of work expected from a law firm by making important introductions and providing invaluable networking opportunities.
How are you going to shake things up next?
We are on a mission to bring yoga and meditation into the lives of those that need it most so we are asking our users to share with us any groups the volunteer with such as community centers, homeless shelters, public schools and jails and prisons. We want to unlock free subscriptions to the underserved. We are committed to making yoga more accessible to all. It sounds easy but there is often red tape along the way, so please message us at [email protected] if you have an organization you want us to provide yoga to. We are on it!
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
From Ali Owens, a yoga teacher on our app that has become a great friend, she gave me two similar pieces of advice in the same enlightening conversation. The first was, “On the other side of fear, is freedom” and the second was “Let that sh*t Goooooo.” These are both extremely challenging for me day to day as I tend to question myself and overanalyze, and the innate publicist in me always feels like I need to put on a show. It comes down to being comfortable being exactly who you are and being unapologetically YOU.
From my mom, “Happiness is a choice, not a condition”, is a phrase I carry with me always and try to also instill in my stepson. It’s really goes hand in hand with something you are taught in yoga, which is quite simply that you cannot control the actions of others but you can control how you react to them. I try to always maintain a positive outlook and it’s served me well so far.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
Last year, probably around the same time I was receptive to having that conversation with Ali, I was also reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and she speaks a lot to letting go of your fears to create. She also speaks to perfectionism and how as women we often hold ourselves to these extremely high standards that essentially keep us from going after what we want in life. Her ways of personifying fear were very helpful for me and it nudged me in the direction of the perspective shift I really needed to change. When she compared fear to a mall cop, I knew I needed to let that go! I also periodically read Siddhartha. My dad gave me (I may have taken without his knowledge) his tattered copy at least 20 years ago and I’ve read it more than a few times since.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
This question was so difficult for me. It’s difficult to narrow it down to one individual that could be both an enjoyable and inspiring lunch date and also serve as a genuine opportunity for Yoga Wake Up. Therefore, we’re going with Serena Williams — she can bring her hubby Alexis Ohanian, since I will bring mine, and I honestly, think we’d have a incredible dynamic. She’s recently made investments I would’ve backed myself such as Daily Harvest, which, like Yoga Wake Up, is all about making mornings more productive through convenient, healthy routine-based offerings. I saw Alexis speak at Collision last year and he was incredibly personable, refreshingly honest, funny and spoke from the heart. She’s admirable AF as an athlete, human and mother.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@yogawakeup and @lizzienbrown on Instagram. @yogawakeup on Twitter and for Facebook, we’re the “yogawakeupapp”.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!