It’s that time of year.  The time when for one reason or another, we celebrate each other through gifts and other niceties.  But, how often do we think about how we can maximize our gift-giving for good?

Members of the HUB are typically more in tune with the power of social impact, and the buying of goods for “good”.  I AM is one such HUB-based company. I AM is currently working in the Highlands of Guatemala, building a global sales channel for hand woven textiles to create sustainable and high-wage weaving work for Mayan women living in impoverished communities. The result–beautiful, hand-woven yoga bags that also change the way we approach business. One such way towards change is in the creation of a yoga bag display for local shops, yoga studios and the HUB.

Over the last month, I AM founders William and Jessie Baxter collaborated with AJ Romine at Techshop to build a prototype yoga bag stand for the first round of market testing.  “As the stand represents a completely new retail concept that we created to distribute our Yoga Bags, the testing is critical for refining the idea and stand design,” stated Will.

Design is important for the product to really take off.  According to AJ, “The idea was to create an easily re-producible piece using as much recycled material as possible. [The sign] will sit in a yoga studio with a single bag.  The QR Code and link are specific to that studio so that if someone decides to buy a bag as a result of that specific sign, the studio will take a cut appropriate for their service.”  AJ, at the time an intern at the HUB, happened to work part-time at Techshop right next door. Will, Jessie, and AJ built the prototype at Techshop in about two weeks with the help of Pam Pascual, an architecture student at California College of the Arts.

Next, it was time to test the prototype. “To begin with, we wanted to measure individual’s reaction and engagement with the stand, and the HUB provided a great environment to test this,” said Will. The stand was set up in different locations around the HUB. As every person walked past, their reaction was recorded and measured in two-hour blocks.

With testing close to complete, the finished product will be seen in Yoga Tree Studios across the Bay Area. “We just completed our first major inventory run for our Yoga Bags which is really exciting.  The final product is incredible and one the team is very proud of,” said Will.  Online sales have officially launched; just in time for the Holidays.  The HUB, Techshop and I AM collaboration is a glimpse into the future of business, a bright example of the spirit of social impact, and a fine story to share around the fire over the Holidays.


Ruth Braden is a HUB storyteller. Follow her at @ruthbraden