Nearly two years ago, Beyond Yoga®, a body positive, premium athleisure apparel brand focused on quality, fit and comfort for all shapes and sizes, joined the Levi Strauss & Co. portfolio as it sought to bring its 18-year-old brand to even more consumers across the globe. Upon its initial launch, the brand established a strong wholesale footprint alongside a direct-to-consumer arm. Now, as Beyond Yoga® looks to expand, the brand knows that entering brick-and-mortar is a key opportunity to connect with even more shoppers and bring the brand to life in the physical world.
Beyond Yoga® has four stores open today and plans to open new locations soon, including its first store outside of California. To learn how the brand’s journey into brick-and-mortar has been going, we sat down with Kori Whitaker, the brand’s head of retail, who shared more about the evolution of the brand and how the team is navigating the physical world of retail.
Tell us about the Beyond Yoga® origin trajectory — how did the brand get to where it is today?
It’s been a journey! Like a lot of businesses, we started in wholesale and online, establishing who we were as a brand. Our ecommerce business has contributed to how we built our base and allowed us to connect with our fans and gain insight. We’ve continued to listen to them while creating and growing the brand and introducing it to new audiences. Gaining LS&Co. as a parent company definitely helped in that department. After all, what brand is better known than Levi’s®?
As we continued to scale online, we decided to open a pop-up in Los Angeles. We always wanted Beyond Yoga® locations to be more than a place to shop — we want to provide our consumers with opportunities to hang out, attend events and get to know us without rushing the experience. The pop-up helped us realize that communal space was going to be a critical element of our model — the atmosphere we create is incredibly important to us.
After deciding to pair our ecommerce presence with a robust physical one, we opened our first shop in Santa Monica last year, and we couldn’t believe the response. Our fans really showed up, and we couldn’t wait to offer them more styles, in more cities. One year and four stores later, we’re now preparing to open a couple more stores.
What do you want your fans to get out of the in-store experience? How do you create that atmosphere?
Every store is a little different, but ultimately, we want them to all be as welcoming as possible. We pride ourselves on the clothes we make, but real luxury is also about the experience, not only the product. We want our locations to be soothing and friendly — a place where our fans want to stay.
To accomplish this, we’ve integrated design choices that reflect who we are as a brand. When shoppers walk into one of our stores, they might notice a lot of yellow, elevated fixtures or a particular hanger shape. All those choices are made with our consumer experience in mind.
We’re also constantly learning what works and what doesn’t, which takes some experimenting. For instance, it’s taken us some time to find just the right size for our stores so that they feel airy but not sterile, homey but not confined. The size of each store must be conducive to the right amount of product, too.
How do you determine how much product is available in store?
Beyond Yoga® introduces new colors and styles monthly, so we need enough space to reflect that turnover. We find that we have a lot of loyal fans who look forward to the new drops every month and come into our stores to see what’s new, so we want to make sure our stock is always fresh.
One common frustration we’ve heard from activewear consumers is that plus sizes are often only available online, so we make sure that our in-store product experience is accessible to everyone. The brand offers sizing from XXS to 4X, and extended sizing is carried in all our locations.
Making sure our physical locations parallel our online stores is a huge focus of our growth. After all, over 50% of people shopping at our brick-and-mortar locations are new to the brand. So, while most of our revenue comes from online, our stores are doing the work of bringing new folks into the Beyond Yoga® family, which creates a domino effect for our business and allows us to keep up our growth trajectory.
What kind of activations can Beyond Yoga® communities expect?
All kinds! Event hosting is a great way for us to get to know our communities and collaborate with small business owners in each area. We’re always seeking out local businesses to partner with, and those relationships really help differentiate each location.
Like I said, we want our stores to be a place where members of our community feel welcome, whatever their interests. Maybe they pop in for a yoga class, but they can also join for a pickleball tournament, a mindfulness session or even a wreath-making workshop! Our ethos reflects our name — we really are beyond yoga.