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Business of Yoga

Yoga Teachers Tapped to Sell Natural Skincare Line

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Pangea Organics, a natural skincare company based in Boulder, Colorado, and sold in stores like Whole Foods, has changed its business model to include direct selling—and is banking on the yoga teaching community to climb aboard.

“I’m a yogi, and I’ve been in the yoga world for a decade,” Pangea’s founder and CEO Joshua Onysko told Buzz. “A lot of friends, even those who are successful yoga teachers, aren’t making a lot of money. This can help them, and it’s something they can believe in from the bottom to the top.”

Direct selling, also called social selling or multilevel marketing, is the model used by companies like Pampered Chef. Salespeople host parties to let their friends try out and buy new products, and offer those friends the opportunity to sell the products themselves.

In the Pangea model, “Beauty Ecologists” make an initial investment of $199 and receive a 25-30 percent commission on all product sales. If they get their friends to enroll as salespeople, they also receive a small percentage of their sales.

Pangea Organics, which launched in 2000, has earned accolades for its commitment to sustainably harvested natural products for its skincare line and biodegradable (even plantable) packaging. The company, which has annual sales of more than $12 million, is sold in 400 natural products retailers nationwide, though Onysko says that by summer’s end, the products will only be sold in about 250 retail outlets. And as the direct selling takes off, the company will eliminate product sales to the public through its website.

The main benefit of this business change, Onysko says, is that it will allow the company to expand its reach beyond the natural products market—even if its customer base is the same demographic of people who shop for organic produce. “Two out of 10 or 12 people who go to places like Whole Foods go into the body care department,” he explains.

The change also supports the company’s mission to give back, Onysko says, in this case to the brand’s loyal consumers who choose to sell the products. “It’s enabling people to live their passion, live the way they want to live, and sell a product that they really believe in.”

Some prominent yoga teachers have already signed on, including Tommy Rosen and Elena Brower. Brower’s image, in particular, has been widely used in Pangea’s recent promotions.

Onysko told Buzz that he doesn’t believe in hiring a celebrity spokesperson, as many larger cosmetic and skincare companies do, but having high-profile yoga teachers is different because they are “compensated based on what they decide to do, not what we pay them to do.”

As for her decision to get involved, Brower, founder of Virayoga in New York City and a frequent Yoga Journal contributor and Conference presenter, cites less travel and more family time as top priorities that the additional revenue allows her to enjoy. As an early joiner and with some 250 people signed on with her, she is one of Pangea’s top salespeople. But she also says she’s passionate about reducing toxins in our waste stream and promoting more ecological alternatives. Helping other yoga teachers find additional channels to support themselves is a bonus. “Often I see how hard it is for yoga teachers to believe they should earn a real income for their work,” she says.

“For me, the measures of whether I’ll choose a source of income are intention and integrity,” she says.