Looking to fill time during lockdown by honing his entrepreneurial skills, DBIS student Theo Robinson, 17, has come up with KaiJai, a feelgood yoga mat that ticks all the right boxes.
“KaiJai was born when I realised there was a lack of reasonably priced, high-quality, eco-friendly yoga mats available,” Theo opens. “So, I sat down with my mum [DB-based yoga teacher Lili Robinson] and we designed a yoga mat that would be suitable for all different levels, while being eco-friendly and stylish.”
After six months’ research, Theo started small with an order of 120 5mm, cork-topped mats in July 2021. By January this year, he was back on the phone to the factory in Jiangsu ordering 200 easy-to-carry, 3.5mm mats, 100 topped in cork and 100 topped in polyurethane (PU).
Theo is already selling his mats though Escapade Sports (www.escapade.com.hk) and on his company website (www.kaijai.store). “Getting into Escapade was no easy feat,” he says. “But with a lot of persistence and effort and maybe a little bit of luck, we did it. We’ve also just confirmed a partnership with Embody (www.embody.hk) here in DB. We’ll be selling KaiJai mats in their studio very soon.”
So how does Theo account for KaiJai’s popularity? For starters, his mats are genuinely eco-friendly and fully recyclable: “So many brands are marketing their mats as eco-friendly, when they really aren’t,” he says. “Our mats are made in China because that was the only place we could find a manufacturer who met our demands to create high-quality mats at affordable prices, while still staying eco-friendly. We only use materials that are sustainably sourced.
“All our mats have a natural rubber base which is spongy and protective, while being eco-friendly and biodegradable. And they are topped either with a thin layer of cork, which is antimicrobial and naturally replenishing, or with PU. The PU upper layer doesn’t contain any chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system, nor does it contribute to PH change in soil or water when biodegrading.”
KaiJai’s price point is also right: Most eco-friendly mats cost upward of HK$800, Theo’s mats start at HK$480. “When buying from a big brand, you are often just paying a premium for the name, not the quality,” says Theo. “Our mat quality and materials are almost identical to some of the leading fitness and sport fashion brands but ours are around 25% cheaper!”
That KaiJai mats look stylish was also something Theo prioritised from the get-go, and in selecting natural-toned cork and smart black PU for the uppers he has proven that sustainable can be chic. More importantly perhaps, all KaiJia mats are thoughtfully marked up with alignment lines for those who are serious about their yoga. “We have the central alignment line which helps with body symmetry. The staggered top and bottom end markers allow you to maintain a consistent stretch on both sides of the body, so you can monitor extension progress and avoid overstretching,” Theo says.
“We’re also very proud of the materials we use in our mats and we are confident in their durability. Our design is lasered in so it will not peel or fade, and our cork and PU uppers will not chip or crack if used as instructed.”
Having pulled off the deal with Escapade, Theo confesses his marketing campaign has been pretty laidback so far. “But we offer short-term promotions which helps drive sales,” he says, before pausing for a second, clearly listening to his inner Erik Finman. “In fact, we should make the most of this opportunity now. For the month of May, Around DB readers can get 20% off any of our mats and free delivery within DB if they use the code DBRESIDENTMAY when ordering at www.kaijai.store.” [PHOTOS BY Richard Gordon – www.richardgordonphotography.com.hk.]Tags: DB business, db community, entrepreneur, fitness, yoga matt