Purusha People: Eco Activewear for the Everyday Superhero
Walking around in yoga clothes takes a certain kind of human -- one who repels catcalls and side-eyes about veganism like her leggings and tank top are made of anti-kryptonite.
Especially considering in the U.S. women wearing pants, of any sort, wasn't really a legal thing until the 20th century.
Hayley Elliott of Purusha People is one of those humans. She not only maintains the tradition of hand-crating each of the pieces sold by her company, but she's also woven eco-friendliness into each item, and, in her full-time, raises a toddler son (see vid below).
Purusha -- a Sanskrit word for "universal soul" -- was first developed, one may say, when Hayley was around her son's age now. At two-years-old, she dressed up as Supergirl for days at a time ("This wasn’t near Halloween, mind you," she says), and has never looked back from that freedom of "designing" her own outfits.
Now, she and her friend Nadya personally cut, print and sew the entire Purusha People catalogue with the goal of creating clothing that "inspires you to move confidently in the direction your heart leads!" They use USA grown organic cotton or modal deadstock (meaning they rescued it from being dumped in a landfill by a larger fashion house) and waterbased non-toxic ink.
Plus, their slow clothes movement sponsors in-need children and their families with a portion of the proceeds given to World Vision.
UWM sat with Hayley to learn more about her globe-saving powers.
UWM: You first imagined yourself as Supergirl, who's your superhero now?
Hayley Elliott: My superhero is my family! My son Shep, my partner Patrick, and my two yellow labs each provide me with unique love. They inspire me to create thoughtfully, to work hard, and to love unconditionally. Everything I do is for them, and for the next generation as well. Shep has opened my eyes to seeing further into the future, and I care so much about the future for him and his earth-mates.
How do you make the "slow" life sustainable in a microwave world, especially since your garments cost the same as [some] factory clothes?
I didn’t know my clothing cost the same as factory clothes! Everyone tells me it’s so expensive :/
Either way, I don’t make much money. It’s my full time job, but it has become a lot more difficult in the past couple years as more overseas-mass produced-yoga wear players have come to the field. It’s impossible to compete with Forever 21 or Alo or Old Navy. To set myself apart I try to create a very personal experience with the customer and make really unique pieces you can’t find anywhere else!
I’m lucky because I believe more and more people care about where their clothes are made and who made them. Sustainability is the way of the future, so the slow clothes movement is not going anywhere.
Ha! What inspired you to create yoga leggings -- do you practice yoga, or simply have a love for the #yogapantsallday movement?
I first started Purusha in 2009 when I was living at home with my parents. I wanted yoga pants that were fun and different. At that time there was only Lululemon, Hardtail, and American Apparel for yoga leggings. Everything was super basic, so the gap in the market was really big.
Fast forward 9 years and the landscape has changed dramatically for yoga pants. They’re more popular than jeans! But my love for #yogapantsallday hasn’t changed a bit! I’m wearing leggings right now. And I’ve been doing yoga asana for the past 9 years as well to supplement my running :)
We just moved out of Women's History Month, but we like to celebrate yearlong. Who is your favorite "real life" Supergirl right now?
J.K. Rowling! It’s not her massive success I find as heroic as her ability to rise from difficulty and struggle. I personally know how hard it is to have your work rejected, and to have not a shred of a head start. I find those who create success from nothing to be the most inspirational.
What first inspired you to be eco-friendly (was it Captain Planet)?
I think it was the emotional response I got from natural and organic products. Supporting organic food, cosmetics, and clothing gave me (and still gives me) a feeling of purity and innocence. Shopping mindlessly always left me feeling guilty. When I buy from small makers and ethical brands I have no regrets. It’s a win-win.
What's one mantra that you use to stay inspired, even on a "bad" day?
"Good days are coming." Some days are kinda bad. But I can go to sleep and start over. If a day just keeps going to shit, I drink a little wine and call it a day early! I’m so lucky to never have a completely bad day. If my family is safe and healthy, I don’t get down. That’s my foundation.
If you could pick one item from your current collection that makes you feel like you've "won the day," which one would it be?
Definitely the Big Dreamer romper! I love one pieces and velvet! Not having to think about an outfit, but still looking cute and stylish, is the epitome of winning fashion-wise.
Word. Straight outta Krypton.