We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Suni Gargaro. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Suni below.
Hi Suni, thanks for joining us today. Owning a business isn’t always glamorous and so most business owners we’ve connected with have shared that on tough days they sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have just had a regular job instead of all the responsibility of running a business. Have you ever felt that way?
I don’t just sometimes wonder would it would be like to have a regular job – after retiring my first business (a retail boutique with an ecommerce component) I actually *did* go back to work full-time for a period of about 1 year, prior to becoming pregnant with my son. At that point, I took a break from work and business to have my baby and start a family (which is whole other story!)
But to the point at hand, once the entrepreneurial bug bites, from my POV it is *very* difficult to be truly happy working for someone else or for a large corporation. There are of course many things on the “pro” side i.e. steady income, benefits, paid vacation, and financing for things like homes and cars are more readily available to people that have w2 jobs and can be put in the box of “stable” and “credit worthy” by the bankers.
That said, there are lots of things that I missed about being an entrepreneur during that time, things that once you have tasted and experienced, you basically never want to go back to working for someone else. Things like independence, creative freedom, gratification that comes from building something that would not exist without your decision to take action. Your work becomes your own domain, free from the gnawing knot of stress in your gut when thinking about your boss’s expectations, the next meeting or presentation, the next deadline.
I mean, as a business owner, you have deadlines, and you have stress – but those are self-imposed and at the end of the day, you report to yourself and your customers or clients – this is completely different than the dynamics of cubicle life that so many adults endure in the name of those elusive values that society holds us to: “Stability”, “Prestige”, “Advancement”.
Being an entrepreneur allowed me to create those things in my life according to my own terms, which means there are no guarantees, but there are also no *limits* – the limits usually imposed on us by the expectations of our boss, our parents, our peers and Society, we have a choice about what and if those limits need to be, if at all. Most people do not know they have a choice, and they do not give themselves an opportunity to take control and define their own limits, and they instead accept the expectations imposed on them by others as being the “right” ones.
So often, that just isn’t true – or does not have to be true, if we just have the courage to drop those expectations and go out and create our own, and live up to them (or beyond.) That is what being an entrepreneur is about for me. Its still a process, and maybe a “work in progress” but its my work, on my terms. For this reason, as soon as my son was reasonably old enough for me to take a break from my duties as full-time Mom, I went back to work – for myself, as a brand founder and online retailer. I hope to set an example for my son and influence him to think the same way as he grows and begins to prepare for his career. I want his mind-set to be one of “no limits” and to take his future into his own hands. I see no better way to do that than as an entrepreneur. Happily, he whole heartedly agrees with, even at the tender age of 12.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
Sunia Yoga is founded by an American female entrepreneur of South Indian descent, Suni G.
This line is designed by a yogi (RYT 200hrs with Yoga Alliance) for yogis and all active lifestyle enthusiasts that are passionate about yoga, healthy living, and a healthy planet.
Each of our leggings has a unique Sanskrit name that inspired the design. Our goal is that these concepts and the designs they inspired help communicate universally the real meaning behind the practice of yoga.
Our leggings are bold and beautiful because we believe in living a colorful life. We take pride in having vibrant colors with exceptional durability that endure wash after wash. We use the highest quality sublimation printing process with eco friendly water-based ink with no unnecessary chemicals. We only use premium quality fabric that is soft as butter on your skin, yet durable and long-lasting. We recently launched our Eco Friendly line of (recycled fabric) leggings. We practice sustainability wherever we can.
We strive to do more than sell yoga pants. The Sunia Yoga brand is here to make a long term impact by truly enriching people’s lives, and our planet. This is what Sunia Yoga’s mission is, and always will be.
Any insights you can share with us about how you built up your social media presence?
Instagram is the main Social Channel for my business, and this is where I have focused nearly all of my efforts. In the beginning, the Insta algorithm was easier and more forgiving than it is today. Growing an audience and engagement seemed pretty straightforward back then (around 2018.) But the fundamentals are really still the same I believe, and they probably apply to most or all Social channels more broadly.
Social Media should be about providing value to the audience primarily, while reinforcing brand values. Social can be helpful for monetization as well, but if that is the primary objective for the brand or business, they will struggle to build a following of loyal fans. It somewhat goes back to the simple rule we learn as children, to put “giving” ahead of “receiving”. Or at least, put it in that order ;) meaning, to expect a Social Channel to provide ROI for your business, you can’t walk into it asking for sales. Do that and you push people away. First, give value in the way of inspiration, motivation, beautiful images or video content, help educate, etc. When you do that, then you can expect your audience to reciprocate and respond when you run a promotion.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
It all starts with authenticity. This is something that I see my competition lacking often, being honest. For me, my brand and my products are more than just commodities to be monetized. I have a mission to help people understand the true wisdom and teachings of Yoga, and my products are created with that mission in mind, to help people on their own personal Yoga path. My country of origin is India, where Yoga was created, and the philosophies behind yoga are everywhere throughout my culture and the society where I was born and raised before coming to America. I embrace this and I have created a brand to affirm that, to help others embrace those values as well. There are few other activewear (yoga apparel) brands out there that can say this, if they are being honest. Much of yoga apparel has become more about a fashion statement (or showing off) than about the inspired practice of yoga, and to me this just brings an element of superficiality to those brands. To each their own, but I want my brand to do more, and stand for more, than this.