Travis Strote and Haley Byfield are saving the world, one pair of leggings at a time.
The Scottsdale residents founded Yoga Democracy, the only zero-waste manufacturers of active wear in the United States. They will showcase their new collection and their best sellers during Arizona Fashion Week 2022.
Yoga Democracy’s event is Friday, Nov. 4, at the Mix Center in Mesa.
“We are going to be showcasing a new collection as well as our bestsellers,” said Strote, a Navy veteran. “We are a locally made brand, seven years going. We manufacture everything in Carefree. We will showcase what we stand for: People and planet before profit.”
A Scottsdale resident, Strote said seven years ago there wasn’t a company serving women who wanted to express themselves through yoga clothing. Most apparel firms offer plain, neutral colors.
“We are loud and unique and different, and we were hoping women would embody that uniqueness,” he said. “And it worked. We’ve grown a bit over seven years. We just finalized a production facility in Kenya so we can make a deeper impact for the people working for us there.”
The Carefree facility will be used for small batch runs and a sample house. It’s there that Yoga Democracy staff will do research and design for their products.
Yoga Democracy’s clothing are made with recycled water bottles and fishing nets. The excess fabric is collected and repurposed or recycled. It uses a no-water dyeing process that cuts down on waste.
“We put our excess materials in dog beds and donate them to local shelters,” he said.
“If you walk into an average dog shelter, the dogs are sleeping on hard concrete. Therefore, they’re uncomfortable and it lessens the chance for adoption. The dog is already on edge. Our goal is to make the dog more comfortable.”
Strote and Byfield met in yoga class in Florida. They founded Yoga Democracy in New York. As Yoga Democracy grew, the partners started looking for sewing machines for sale. They found a small production company for sale in Carefree and they bought it five years ago.
“We moved out to Carefree, and we grew it from there,” he said. “It’s been born and raised here. Previously, we were cutting and sewing on the floor of her apartment in New York City.”
Byfield is the lead seamstress and creative captain, who begins the sewing process on every single product Yoga Democracy produces.
The clothing is available on its website, yogademocracy.com, or at its flagship store in Old Town Scottsdale.
Along with showcasing Yoga Democracy activewear, the Old Town location is a micro-production facility. Shoppers can peek in back and see seamstresses creating clothing. In addition to creating clothing, Yoga Democracy offers on-site hems and alterations. Transparency and honesty is key to Yoga Democracy, Strote said.
Strote comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His mother and sister rescue former racehorses. He got the entrepreneurial bug when he started his first company, Pit Dawg Hats.
“When I got out of the Navy, I wanted to continue my service for helping people,” he said. “I traveled all over the world with the Marine unit as their medic. I was in the Navy but attached to a Marine unit. Coreman are the only Navy the Marines will put up with.”