Business models that incorporate doing good as part of the user experience are many. The need for consumers to feel like they are contributing to a greater cause has set companies and products such as TOMS Shoes, Warby Parker Eyewear, Smiled Square toothbrushes, Blanket America textiles and (PRODUCT)RED iPods, Nike shoelaces and Gap T-shirts apart from the rest.
When valued, social consciousness can be a determinant factor for a shopper to choose one commodity over another.
Other businesses like local eatery Sweet Paris Crêperie & Cafe, use such a strategy to meld their métier with passion.
Blue Tree Yoga at Spring Street Studios, formerly Cura Yoga, is raising the mat.
The studio morphed into a donation-based nonprofit yoga center to fulfill the mission of the Breathecure Foundation, a 501(c)3 per the IRS tax code. Both are ventures, under the umbrella of Jennifer Buergermeister's Jenniyoga, that were fused to answer a higher calling, one which nurtures the conversation between eastern and western wellness tenets.
"The more I thought about Cura Yoga —which means to bring attention to, to nurture or to heal — there was a seriousness that could imply that we only served those with symptoms of disease," Buergermeister says. "And though we have special programs that work with people with cancer, brain injuries and healing the body in general, we wanted this space, Blue Tree Yoga, to be a community center that everyone could enjoy.
"I like the symbol of the tree. I like the color blue because it represents integrity, truth, honesty and honor. And so when we went all donation, I wanted to create a fun, hip, all-inclusive place. Blue Tree Yoga gives reverence to the tree of yoga and the tree of life."
"Though we have special programs that work with people with cancer, brain injuries and healing the body in general, we wanted this space, Blue Tree Yoga, to be a community center that everyone could enjoy."
Anyone who wishes to practice yoga at Blue Tree doesn't need to sign a contract, pay ahead of time or commit to a series of sessions. Rather, it's pay-what-you-can at the time of the class. Most donate between $5 and $25, and clients can use their donation as a tax deduction — just for taking care of themselves, she says.
Dana Blue, 33, is a model who often juggles two, sometimes three jobs between steady and freelance work. Though she wasn't a stranger to yoga, the nature of her work did not allow her to make long-term commitments, something that some yoga studios require, nor did she have the discretionary income to spend on fitness classes.
"My income fluctuates and my schedule changes," Blue says. "Yoga is important for me because I need to make time for fitness and and find time to de-stress. Yoga does both things. For me to come here and do some deep breathing, strengthening and stretching is something that's invaluable."
Buergermeister always desired to broaden her practice into a community that supports other fields. It's the reason why two years ago she established the Breathecure Foundation in 2007.
Her first project was to write a children's book for patients at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and at Texas Children's Hospital that taught readers fun ways to use the breath as a healing therapy. In collaboration with Yogiños: Yoga for Youth, the FUNdamentals of Breathing and Yoga activity book is now published, printed and available. Though it was first conceived as an integrative medicine tool, FUNdamentals of Breathing and Yoga also targets elementary public school students and advocates for breathing as a method to improve attention, lower stress and lessen asthma symptoms, while reinforcing proper nutrition.
Buergermeister plans on leading a research study to measure the efficacy of her program with the help from Alejandro Chaoul, who's established in the medical and alternative medicine community for his Tibetan mind-body techniques with cancer patients.
Funds raised through Blue Tree Yoga will subsidize those costs, in addition to other initiatives through the Breathecure Foundation.