Julia and Cornelia Gibson founded Toned by BaggedEm a fitness-focused brand that aims to make women like themselves feel seen in a typically white-dominated space, after raising over $2,000 on Kickstarter in 2019.
“We saw a need for representation and inclusiveness in wellness,” Julia tells Yahoo Life. “We had gone a long time motivating each other and not feeling included when we were without each other. The idea came from our desire to fight stereotypes and give a little of the motivation we provide for each other to others.”
The pair, who are based in New York City, sells a variety of yoga mats and gym bags with images of Black women with natural hair, head wraps and different body shapes doing various yoga poses. For a limited time, they also offer mats that feature Black men. All of these images were created by their mother.
“The images on our mats are inspired by our desire to show real women that are caring about their wellness. A lot of our image selections are representations of women we see in our family and community that we know are working hard to stay physically and mentally well,” Julia explains.
“Seeing Black women represented in wellness is important because women of color are at a greater risk of developing issues with health. Our mats encourage women to heal themselves, inside and out. They are reminders of the importance of working on being healthy no matter what!” Cornelia tells Yahoo Life.
With the Black community facing a global pandemic that has disproportionately affected them in conjunction with the high-profile police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, self-care has become a higher priority for many. Julia adds that the recent protests over racial injustice have been motivating to her and Cornelia.
“It is inspiring to see so many people join in to change the injustices within Black communities and fight for more representation,” she says. “That has always been our goal. Our business was created as a way to transform stereotypical perceptions of Black men and women. We hope to see more Black entrepreneurs get the access and assistance they need to create and grow their businesses.”
Satisfied customers have shared their love for the mats on social media.
“This yoga mat gives representation. And that matters! It makes her feel home, in a safe place, like she can do anything. A huge shout out to @tonedbybaggedem for creating these luxe yoga mats.” one fan wrote in an Instagram caption accompanying a photo of her daughter.
In a post shared by Toned by BaggedEm, another customer wrote, “It is basically me in a mat, which is hard to find in the white-dominated yoga community in Vancouver.”
Another customer shared, “My mat looks like me!”
Toned by BaggedEm hopes to expand their brand their line of mats and create custom-made pieces in the future.
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