For close to a decade yoga has been one of my favorite ways to practice self-care. I recently went on a yoga retreat in Italy where I was privileged to meet Dorian Herrera who is the founder of Yogiscapes. I am very honored to feature Dorian as an entrepreneurial spotlight this week! Dorian is an incredibly inspiring woman who credits practicing bikram yoga to providing her with profound physical and emotional healing. Dorian was motivated to create a business called Yogiscapes which includes the creation of affordable, quality yoga towels based on the beauty in nature. @Yogiscapes2016 is a perfect gift to give yourself or others as you practice surrendering on your mat this season! In addition to being a yogi enthusiast and entrepreneur, Dorian also is an attorney with a passion for domestic violence prevention. A percentage of the proceeds for this brand goes to a San Diego, California organization called No Silence, No Violence that is committed to providing education, training, resources, and community development that will eliminate stigma surrounding relationship abuse and sexual assault. I hope you enjoy my interview with Dorian as much as I did.
Tell us about you? Why did you choose to become a lawyer who specializes in supporting survivors of domestic violence?
My specialty is in construction defect litigation. I represent homeowners in lawsuits against their home builders for things like roof leaks, concrete cracks and plumbing issues. My passion, however, is in the area of domestic violence prevention. During my training as a trial attorney, I prosecuted a domestic violence case. As a survivor of domestic violence, this experience touched my heart. I knew when I got back home after I completed my training that I wanted to do more for victims of domestic violence.
After I google searched domestic violence volunteer opportunities, I came across the website for the San Diego Domestic Violence Council. The home page had an announcement regarding the annual county wide event in honor of October being domestic violence awareness month. I attended the San Diego County Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kick-Off event where I met someone who would not only become an inspiration and a mentor but has become my friend, Jessica Yaffa. Jessica is an author, speaker, survivor and what I would call a thriver! She is the President of the nonprofit that Yogiscapes supports called No Silence, No Violence. A few weeks later we met up for coffee and I told her that I wanted to help. During our meeting, she told me that she was the President of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council and invited me to sit on the steering committee. Without hesitation, I said yes! The council is involved in coordinating collaborative efforts between and among agencies throughout the county. Some weekends, I volunteer at a domestic violence restraining order clinic. My time at the clinic has taught me that violence affects people of all races, genders and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Next year, I will be working closely with the DA’s office and Alpha Project, the project providing housing for San Diego’s homeless population. I will be helping residents of the camps connect with appropriate resources.
Bikram yoga has been life changing for you! Please share how it has helped you.
After suffering from inexplicable back pain for nearly 5 years, in 2014 I was diagnosed with a rare genetic back disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. This disease attacks the back and can cause complete paralysis of the spine. Growing up, my grandfather walked with a cane and couldn’t bend over or move his neck. Every day my grandmother had to shower him and put his clothes and shoes on. Although I knew that he was different other grandparents because of his disability, I never knew what his condition actually was until I was diagnosed, several years after his death. Every case is different and the disease affects men more severely than women, but it would have been nice to be able to ask him questions.
After researching ways to slow down the progression of this disease, I came across a blog of a lady in her sixties who has the same diagnosis. She described her saving grace as the magic that is Bikram Yoga. Before reading this blog, I had never heard of Bikram Yoga. I had taken some yoga classes in college and during my pregnancy, but I was far from a yogi. Without hesitation, I searched for and purchased a Groupon to a local Bikram Yoga studio. That was in February 2014. I have been practicing 5-7 times a week ever since. It is the only thing that makes me feel better and prevents flare ups. At my worst, I can barely walk. The pain is so excruciating that to lift my foot and move it even 6 inches feels like the biggest accomplishment. Yoga has helped me work through the pain by teaching me how to use my breathing and the power of my mind to get through anything. You see, in a Bikram Yoga class, you endure 26 challenging poses over a period of an hour and half all the while the room temperature is set at a juicy 106 degrees and 60% humidity. To say it takes determination, focus and perseverance to get through a class is an understatement. I especially love how my practice has taught me that in yoga, just as in life, it is is just that...a practice. With consistency anything is possible and the more effort you put in the more you grow in the practice. Every class is a different experience because our bodies are changing daily. It has been almost three years since I started practicing and I can say that my life in all areas has improved. I view my diagnosis as a blessing because it is what led me to this beautiful practice. Every time I finish a class, I feel completely rejuvenated, like a new person. Bikram yoga is literally saving my life.
Where did you come up with the concept for Yogiscapes?
After attending Bikram yoga classes for several months, I noticed that yoga towels are very plain and boring. Yoga towels tend to be very expensive as well. When I first started practicing, I ordered towels on Amazon and spent over $65 per towel. I thought to myself, there must be a better way. I became inspired to design yoga towels based on the beauty in nature. After doing some research, I realized that I could offer beautiful, quality towels at a very reasonable price. Since 2016, Yogiscapes is on a mission to bring more peace and happiness to one person, one mat, one practice at a time.
You donate a percentage of your proceeds to help survivors of domestic violence. Which organizations do you support?
Currently, Yogiscapes supports No Silence, No Violence, an organization based out of San Diego, California that is dedicated to helping survivors of domestic violence. The help they offer spans nationwide and ranges from paying for food and clothing, paying for utilities to prevent them from being turned off, rental assistance, assistance in paying for therapy, and providing children with school supplies, etc.
Tell us some of your success stories regarding Yogiscapes? What were your most fulfilling sales?
One of our most exciting moments was when we closed a deal with our very first yoga studio, Sculpt Fusion in La Jolla, CA. As a first time business owner, this deal meant more than just selling some towels. It meant that someone else believed in me and believed in Yogiscapes.
What is your vision for Yogiscapes?
I would love to be able to expand the line and add more exotic designs such as Hawaii and Antarctica, with penguins of course :-). One day I would love to go on Shark Tank and make a deal with Alex Rodriguez. He owns yoga studios all over the country called Trufusion and it would be awesome if Yogiscapes towels were available nationwide.
How can someone purchase a towel or buy a gift for someone?
The best way to purchase a towel is to go directly to our website, yogiscapes.com. With the holidays around the corner, these towels make great gifts for any Yogi! The towels are extremely versatile as they also double as great beach towels. When you purchase a towel from Yogiscapes, 10% of your purchase goes directly to helping victims of domestic violence.