With his motto of ‘I am here to learn,’ Chad Turner has had some disappointments and failures on his path to success. The mastermind behind the aesthetically pleasing yoga mats crafted by his company, Yoga Design Lab, he has carved a niche in the market that will go a long way in sustaining a profitable business.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am 36 years old Canadian born in Toronto. I have been living in Bali, a good chunk of the year, for the last four years and traveling the rest. A substantial amount of my time has been spent in Cape Town, South Africa, where I spent a month in November in the picturesque town of Muizenberg to recharge my batteries. Then it was back to freezing Canada, where I will be spending Christmas and New Year with my family. It’s quite an adaptation for me to acclimatize to the shift in seasons, but I enjoy the weather wherever I am.
A substantial amount of my time has been spent in Cape Town, South Africa, where I spent a month in November in the picturesque town of Muizenberg (what did you do there?). Then it was back to freezing Canada, where I will be spending Christmas and New Year. It’s quite an adaptation for me to the shift in seasons, but I enjoy the weather wherever I am.
I have been nomadic since I was 19 when I first left home to play semi-professional ice hockey in Berlin for a season before retiring to start my first business back in Toronto. The hockey team went bankrupt after four months, and I knew then my path wasn’t hockey. Since I was little, my dream was to travel the world and create design-based businesses. It’s been an adventure for the last 17 years. I have gone to 60 plus countries. I have had numerous companies that failed and a couple that worked. I have learned a great deal through my failures and will continue this learning curve, taking a lot from my experiences.
When did you start your business, Yoga Design Lab?
I started in May 2014.
How successful has it been?
I have been super fortunate that the response was encouraging from the very beginning with some major media coverage. We have grown to over 40 countries and more than 300 retailers carrying the brand.
To what do you attribute your success?
Past failures that were the perfect learning lessons, pushing myself to improve when things looked their worst, and continually visualizing what I wanted to create.
Talk us through the design and production process of the yoga mats?
Inspired by all forms of beauty, don’t bother to follow trend reports, or look at the competition too much. My goal is just to create something that is stand-alone impressive, eco-conscious, and premium quality.
What is your involvement?
I am involved in the design, marketing, and overseeing every facet of the business with a powerful team of other digital nomads that I’ve been lucky to have come into the brand.
And the Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottles?
I also have an inner loose leaf tea/fruit infuser that I always use for morning Ayurvedic teas.
Do you have any new ideas/products that could take the market by storm?
Ha, I am working on it. I currently have seven to eight new products in development, which can take ages to perfect as the development process is lengthy and expensive.
You live in Bali. That must be tough. What is a typical day like for you?
Living in Bali has provided such an incredible backdrop to live and work, surrounded by locals and a diverse international community of digital nomads, entrepreneurs, yogis, healers, and travelers, all drawn by the undeniable magnetism of this island. Work-life here is relatively unparalleled, in my opinion. You’re able to plug-in and get a ton accomplished, and then when you’re finished, just close your laptop, and you’re in Bali.
Do you travel extensively, and which place would you rate, apart from Bali, your favorite destination, and why?
Yeah, I have been more or less nomadic for the last seventeen years, and it only sped up when I started being able to work digitally in 2008. My favorite ’cities’ are Cape Town, Buenos Aires, and New York. Then for off the grid, connected with nature-filled environments – which is where I gravitate much more these days are Cabo Polonio Uruguay, Lombok Indonesia, and Alentejo Portugal.
Any travel horror stories?
My interpretation of a full passport differed from a customs official last year, and I was denied boarding a flight from Bali to Cape Town. It took almost a month to replace the passport and the circus of other things that went astray that month, including a daily penalty of $30 per day for overstaying my visa because I was initially flying on my last visa day.
Coming back to yoga, what sparked your interest in yoga?
I have always been drawn to the pursuit of mastering my mind. I was studying personal development, Buddhist philosophy, mediation, shamanic arts, etc. Back in 2007, a good friend mentioned the Patanjali Yoga Sutras and recommended a read. His words were ‘it contains everything.’ At that time, I was occasionally practicing Bikram/hot yoga and mostly attributed to yoga as a trendy/purely physical exercise. The yoga sutras explained the full eight limb path of yoga, where the physical postures (asanas) where only one limb (or step) on a sequential path to yoga union (mind/body/spiritual mastery). I started to understand the simplicity and power of the ancient system of yoga and how it taught the fundamental steps to live a beautiful life. You master your mind; then the magic starts to happen. I was still working on it.
What type of yoga do you practice?
I practice eight limb yoga.
What is your motto in life?
I am here to learn.
My goal has always been to stop ‘working for money’ by 35 and instead work for impact. I’m a little behind on that goal, but it’s still the target. I’d instead be thinking about how I can improve someone’s life, rather than how much money I can extract from them. My next project will be based around cleansing the body/mind to remove blocks holding us back from flourishing. I’m starting with myself.