Zobha founder Jamie Hanna has always loved yoga, but when she was living in Hong Kong she became even more immersed in the sport – and the attire associated with it.
“I really wound up living in that kind of clothing,” Hanna said. But she wasn’t always happy with what she had on.
With a background in business and finance, and spurred by a desire to go back to work full-time once her youngest was in school all day, she took matters into her own hands and launched Zobha, an online and wholesale high-end fitness and yoga apparel store in 2008.
She and her husband were also in the process of moving back to the United States. Although they were on the east coast before, they and had fallen in love with Mill Valley on a previous trip and decided to both move here, and set up shop.
“I was living in Hong Kong during the whole development of the brand,” Hanna said. “I had an office and employees here before I even moved.”
While the brand is now sold online and in 400 stores worldwide, on Friday she took Zobha to a new level and opened the first standalone retail store on 30 Miller Ave.
Launching the flagship store here was a no brainer.
“Let’s face it, it’s an amazingly active community,” Hanna said. “Our customer lives in Mill Valley.”
Plans to expand
Active and lifestyle wear is also a rapidly growing retail market, Hanna said. There’s a surge in people who crave, for instance, a pant they can wear to yoga class and then throw on a pair of boots and look good for running errands, or even going to work.
“It’s not the t-shirts and baggy sweatpants of yesteryear,” she said.
With that in mind, Hanna plans to open three more stores in the Bay area next year, and has targeted San Francisco as the second location. They’re “looking all over” for the third location, “and then we’ll grow from there,” she said.
The design, colors and high quality fabric is what elevates Zobha from other athletic brands, Hanna said. The clothing uses high quality Lycra material that’s soft but compressive, and the cut and details are designed to be flattering, feminine and functional.
“We test it,” she said. “We’re literally doing headstands and handstands and twists.”
The focus for her right now is on brand awareness.
“People aren’t walking by your website,” Hanna said, and with a store in downtown Mill Valley she thinks business will explode.
“There’s people who know Zobha and love it,” she said, “And there’s the people who have never heard of it.”
Being downtown also highlights Hanna’s desire to give back to the community. She plans to host events like yoga training workshops and speaker series, and has an upcoming Yoga in the Square event on Oct. 20 from 9 – 10 a.m. Donations to the outdoor yoga class will benefit Kiddo!
Hanna also established The Zobha Foundation, the charitable arm of her brand. Through it she supports Headstand, a non-profit that brings yoga and wellness programs to in-school curriculums of children living in at-risk communities, and has also raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research and awareness.
She also created The Zobha Circle of Grace, a group that connects people and businesses who share the mission to inspire and give back.
It’s not something Hanna takes lightly.
“The novelty of making clothes wears off,” she said. “What you do every day has to mean something more.”
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