Today we’re thrilled to introduce you to the lovely Amber O’keefe, company founder of With Every Atom, an ethical yoga brand producing a beautiful collection of eco friendly yoga mats and ethical yoga equipment from cork blocks to detox mat cleaners.
Some time ago Amber found herself suffering with acute anxiety whilst working in a highly stressful career as a designer within the film and tv industry. With a newfound love of yoga and a few lifestyle changes – including a move to Italy! – fast forward to 2019 and the brand was born.
With Every Atom’s aim is to help keep you and our beautiful world healthy. By creating eco-friendly, design inspired yoga mats they have the perfect mat for any type of yoga practice.
To find out more about Amber and shop to support her, visit the website below :
We’re certainly excited to watch her brand grow and flourish into something really amazing over time. So, over to Amber……
Why has your company chosen to support our global campaign Yoga Stops Traffick?
Freedom I believe is a human right; freedom of thought, freedom of action and freedom from fear. I have never taken for granted how lucky I am to be born in at time and place where freedom is a more often a given. Yoga Stops Traffick is giving back to so many their freedom and what it is to be human. I think yoga is well aligned to support this movement, yoga is a celebration of the freedom we experience in our minds, bodies, hearts and souls.
What is your role within the company?
I am the brand founder; With Every Atom is in its embryotic stage as a brand so, I do a bit (a lot!) of everything now, which is exciting and challenging but I do also have a strong network of yogi’s and friends back in the UK who support the brands growth, they have been superstars!
What does your typical ‘workday’ look like?
Just after launching With Every Atom a few months ago, my partner changed jobs and now works for the footwear brand Timberland (who are a very planet conscious brand actually) so it was a great opportunity that was aligned with our family values. They are based on the Swiss/Italian boarder and are doing some amazing things to help protect the planet; from making sneakers from used plastic bottles to the project ‘green wall’ which essentially is creating a huge green wall (trees and plants!) across Africa to bring back the much needed eco-system. This is essential in helping to fight drought and produce food, it also helps to bring jobs and a richer environment to communities, it’s a fantastic initiative that they support.
So, we moved over to northern Italy with our 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, to start our new adventure. I decided it was best at this time to keep With Every Atom focused to the UK.
So, my ‘new’ work day is complicated! It always starts at 5am (I am an early-bird) with an Italian lesson on Duolingo (a great app for learning languages), is it paramount for me to integrate as much as possible in the Italian culture, although honestly, you can get by as everyone is so friendly, and most people do talk some English (at least better than my Italian!)
Whist getting ready for the day, I like to listen to the podcast ‘wardrobe crisis’, which is by the Australian Vogue’s sustainability editor; Clare Press. It’s fascinating and is packed with facts about all the exciting innovations that are being developed in order to help protect our beautiful planet. Plus, all the special people making a big difference globally and how we can too throughout our day to day lives (even in small ways). It keeps me focused on my brands ambitions; to get better and more responsible every year.
Working for yourself, one day is never the same as the next, which is why I love my job so much! But the one constant is that it always in some way involves yoga!
Currently I am in the process of creating our new product range which involves researching, designing and making sure everything is as eco-friendly as it can be, which not a simple task. I try to use the most sustainable materials I can, whist ensuring the product is both functional and fit for purpose. It’s important that the products have a long lifespan. We want our customers to be happy with their product and enjoy it over again.
But aside from that, I maintain the websites, network with yogi’s, build brand awareness through social media and support my family in the day-to-day. Practicing yoga is my release and my freedom.
How did you come to the practice of yoga?
I have suffered from anxiety my whole life, sometimes it feels like it takes over everything. I have always found Yoga is beautiful in its link between the body and the mind, I have always been spiritual, and I love that aspect too.
I knew yogi’s but always thought that I would never be good enough to be one of them which sounds so silly when thinking this now.
When you suffer from anxiety there is always someone who says to you. ‘You know what you should try …. yoga!’, You say, ‘That’s a great idea’ and smile but secretly think how is twisting myself into a human pretzel really going to help me? Besides, I was so anxious I didn’t think I could make it to my first class!
Fast forward four years, and I did manage to get to that first lesson and have never looked back. It has helped me so much as a person and has become an intrinsic part of my life. I wish I’d listened to my friends earlier.
What impact has regular yoga had on your mind & body?
Yoga has helped me in so many ways! With anxiety you tend to have lots of thoughts going through your head at the same time, you can’t hear or see what is going on around you, you miss everything. You also tend to live in the future and worry about thing’s that haven’t happened or might never happen.
Yoga slows everything down in your head and in those perfect moments everything just stops, and you get a break and then the breaks get longer and longer the more you practice, it’s an extremely cathartic experience. I find I need to practice daily; it doesn’t have to be long, even just fifteen minutes is a game changer, it can be a meditation or a few sun salutations.
Regarding my body I feel better in it that’s for sure! Looking back I don’t think I truly knew how good it can actually feel to be in your own body and also what it is capable of.
Which is your favourite yoga pose?
I love Ashtanga, particularly the primary series, anything that involves binding yourself up in a little ball – which due to my long arms and legs comes easier to me than most… yes, I know its kind of cheating! So I think in yoga you are meant to do things sometimes that maybe you’re not so in love with…so I’m currently working on back bending poses like Charkrasana (wheel pose). Heart openers are also slowly becoming some of my favourite poses which is amazing as these poses take a lot more work and motivation for me to do. I think we can all on the occasion can get stuck in a yoga rut and just do our safe poses if we are not careful.
How else do you practice ‘self-care’ in your life?
I think it’s important to eat the right food me and my children are vegan, we try to eat as many different fruits and vegetables in all the colours of the rainbow. We drink lots of water which is very important. The vegan diet has had a great effect on us all in so many ways. Both of the kids did start off being vegetarian but after a lot of research for both ethical and health reasons we went vegan. My son in particular used to have a constant cold and now is very rarely ill. Both kids are full of energy and happy, they actually love chickpeas as much as me!
I also try to look after my body if I have an injury. For example I have a hip injury at the moment so I can’t do the things I’m used to doing in my yoga practice as the healing process has been slower than I would have liked, so I’m trying to practice patience… this kind of self-care is much harder for me to keep to. But I’m trying, I think I am fighting with my ego on this one.
Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?
I have lots of things/people that inspire me which go all the way from Pre- Raphaelite artists, colour and music, all the way to the founder of People Tree, Safia Minney (what a truly amazing women she is!) and the Cradle to Cradle book by Michael Braungart and William McDonough. I get excited and inspired by so much but my biggest inspiration by far is my kids, I want a better world for them, and I want to do better for them. I also love the way they see the world, everything is new and exciting to them, they see the beauty in everything, the things that we are all too busy to notice. That is inspiring to me to stop and look and see.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the global yoga community?
I think there are a few problems and being in the age of the #instayogi can be both fabulous and distancing. On Instagram you are bombarded with beautiful model-like yogi’s in impossible poses in the most beautiful apparel and surroundings.
When I try to get people to go to a yoga class the first thing they say is that they are not good at yoga. Or they are not flexible, or they are not thin enough. What are we doing as a community, that people think they have to fit into a mould to attend a class?
Krishnamacharya famously said ‘if you can breathe you can do yoga’.
Yoga is a beautiful and inclusive thing, in fact what I love about yoga is your mat is a safe space and popping into childs pose at any point in the class is perfectly acceptable. Your yoga journey is your own. So, we need to think about how we can stop people feeling intimidated about walking through the door.
What’s on the horizon for your company?
I have lots of plans for With Every Atom. Next year I am planning to expand into mainland Europe. We are a very new brand, so we are still trying to let people know who we are and what we are about. We are a brand that wants to do good, so we love partnering with Yoga Stops Traffick and plan on running lots of lovely events to raise money for this very important charity!
We are also excited to bring out lots more responsible products in the next few months, so watch this space!
What message would you like to give to everyone taking part in Yoga Stops Traffick 2020?
The future can seem much brighter when so many people have the same positive common ambition and to do it through yoga is such a strong bond.