You launched Form in early 2017; why do you feel the world needs Form?
Despite the variety of great brands out their in the fitness industry, Heidi and I have found that there are very few with sustainability at their core - many either don't mention their environmental impact or they add it as an afterthought. We created Form with the aim that we would create beautiful products which had a net positive impact on the environment.
Another key element we decided on when creating Form was that our products should look beautiful and different - there is no point creating a sustainable product if no one likes how it looks and doesn't want to use it.
So how did you develop Form from the initial idea to the company it is today?
We didn't start selling anything until more than 6 months after starting the company! The first few months were spent wholly on R&D: carrying out market research; identifying the gap in the market for beautifully designed and sustainable products; sourcing the right materials; designing and testing the mats; and ultimately, ensuring the product was ready to take to market.
The development which took the longest was the Form Grid, the geometric shape seen on all our products which this helps the user's alignment and consistency. To develop this we studied the different poses and positions in yoga, Pilates, body-conditioning and stretching exercises to understand where the points of contact were during the movements. It was then a lot of trial and error to develop a shape which would work with people of all sizes, whilst also looking cool.
How did you come up with the name?
Naming businesses is often one of the hardest and most fun parts of starting a company (along with creating the logo of course). We wanted our name to evoke images of strength and performance and also be memorable - I always find companies with forgettable names or hard to pronounce names really put themselves at a disadvantage from the get-go. Coming up with the name Form actually came quite quickly due to its links with performance-related phrases like 'good form' or 'on top form' which also lend themselves well to puns in marketing material.
How do you raise awareness of Form in the fitness industry?
We do quite a lot of events: we have a set of event mats which we hire out for different events such as pop-up classes. This is a great way to allow people to try the product and experience the quality and performance before they buy.
Our products are very visual so Instagram is one of our most important channels - we've been working hard to create exciting, informative content that engages people with the brand. our products and, perhaps most importantly, our mission. We recently purchased a drone so have been creating some interesting videos showing people using the mats in amazing landscapes like looking over the sea or in a forest clearing.
Sustainability is clearly core to Form: how do you ensure your products have a positive environmental impact?
We did this by finding materials that are sourced in both a sustainable and ethical way. We also put a lot of focus on the end-of-life of the product - it is very important to us not to contribute to landfill so we run a zero-waste office and encourage our customers to do the same. All of our mats are extremely durable as well as recyclable.
We then made sure our mats add no carbon to the atmosphere by calculating how much carbon is released during production and transportation, then we offset more than this through a fantastic charity called SolarAid. By making all our products carbon-negative, we allow our customer's to reduce their environmental impact by choosing to use a Form mat.
Could you tell us a little bit more about SolarAid and how you came to choose them as the method to offset your carbon?
We did a vast amount of research to find a scheme which actually worked, considering many different charities, finally settling on SolarAir. SolarAid use the investment they receive to distribute solar lamps to African families as a replacement for the polluting kerosene lamps they often use to light their homes at night. Kerosene lamps emit toxic black smoke, eat up to 15% of a family’s income and release a huge about of carbon into the atmosphere.
I think yours is the first round yoga mat I have ever seen - how did you come up with that idea?
The idea occurred to Heidi during a yoga class when she was frustrated that she kept stepping off the rectangular mat she was using. Why is it that the default shape for a mat is rectangular when we move in all directions in yoga and fitness?
A round mat seemed like a much better solution so we created a test shape and loved the freedom it allowed and the numerous benefits it provides.
So what’s next for Form?
We have some very excited projects in the pipeline, not just new designs but complementary products such as a new Form class and Form retreats. We can’t share too much more at this point, but stay tuned!
Read about the 5 lessons I have learnt since starting Form.