Has growing up ever made you feel pressured by the social obligation to be successful and fit into a world of materialistic values? Today adulting in this dynamic and constantly changing world pushes us to leave behind the kindness and imagination we once had as children.
Meet Yara Kamal, a young designer, artist, and yoga teacher who realized at 19 years felt she was being forced to be what others wanted her to be. After being depressed from not living her true self, she found the courage to turn things around and reconnected her playfulness and creative self. Within 9 months of connecting with these behaviours, her mental state drastically improved and her health became so much better.
In 2017 Yara founded Scoria, a sustainable brand of biodegradable cork yoga mats that believes in reconnecting with lost creativity and working towards enhancing mental and physical well-being that is focused on giving back to society. Scoria creates products that encourage a youthful mindset such as playfulness, imagination, and story-telling, packed in biodegradable packaging.
Yara had quite a story to tell and we’d love to share it with you. A little dose of good inspiration is all you need to rediscover yourself and bring back the kindness into the world!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your sustainable journey so far.
I’m a 26-year-old designer, artist, and registered yoga teacher. Rewinding to my childhood, I grew up in the Middle East - Jordan. While seeing all kinds of ways of living as a child; from very simple living to lavish to pollution and more - I felt inspired to create art that was out of the box since I was young. I never thought that my childhood would affect me a lot in my way of thinking today and in inspiring my sustainable lifestyle. When I moved to Canada as a teenager, I wanted to pursue art because I felt like completing a challenge of creating something out of the norm made me feel that anything was truly possible. And, that’s where my creative and sustainability journey began. I went on to study Fashion Communication Design at Ryerson University in Toronto and got inspired to regain my creativity after going through the program.
What is your inspiration behind Scoria? Is there a story behind the name?
When I started Scoria, a yoga mat was a second home to me. It was where I could express freely who I am, release emotions, connect with myself, discover my physical body, nourish my spiritual practice, learn to fall and get back up dance, and much more. So, this was where I wanted to put my focus on when starting Scoria. I wanted to introduce a yoga mat that is not only environmentally conscious but also inspires others through brand messaging and artwork to spark the inner-child (who we are at the core). The first collection launch was inspired by children’s imaginations for grown-ups. Scoria’s purpose was to communicate the harmony between calm and bold free expression which represented a connection to both fire and earth elements.
Where does the name Scoria come from?
Scoria is a volcanic rock that emerges from the Earth after a volcano. Scoria to me represented the spark of that fire and creativity within us as human beings without the fear of the opinions of others. The volcanic connection also represents the perfect harmony and balance between two contrasting powerful elements. Earth: calm, grounded, slow, collected. Fire: transformation, play, adventure, truth, boldness, creativity, joy.
Cork mats made from natural cork and natural tree rubber.
Your mission comes from a place of love and your experiences with mental health, what advice can you give someone facing similar struggles?
The healing journey is not a straight line, so take it easy on yourself and know that it’s okay to feel how you feel.
“Try to discern between what makes you “feel’ good vs. what you think makes you “look” good to others. And, then do what may feel good even if it’s a bit out of the norm or feels scary, regardless of whether it looks good to others or not.”
I took a lot of inspiration from kids' care-free personalities. Have you ever seen a child list all the reasons why they should or should not go on a swing? They just get on the swing! The first steps of doing something out of routine will feel hard, but then it will get easier and life will align exactly where it feels good when we keep doing this. Here’s an exercise: look into a mirror and tell yourself, “I’m a badass. I love myself. I am deserving of everything wonderful in this world and life is always working out for me - today is a good day!” Repeat daily.
Scoria donates 10 meals to those in need per yoga mat sold in partnership with FCE
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a social enterprise?
Take it one step at a time. Get clear on the big picture and the mission. You can visualize using imagination what it is you want your enterprise to do, what you want it to feel, and who you want it to impact. After you have clarity on your mission, get back in the now and take only one small step forward without worrying about all the steps that are coming after - just figure out the next step. Tackle that step and keep doing that. You will then look back and admire what you have built.
Who inspires you and why?
My grandma - she is fearlessly true to herself no matter what. She has an open heart, a contagious smile, and a spirit that can positively change anyone’s perspective of life in her presence.
What were you doing and who were you with the last time you had a really good laugh?? Can you share the story?
This sounds super lame and very millennial of me, but the last time I had a really good laugh was very recently when my sister and I were exchanging astrology memes on Instagram before bed. I have no storyline for this, my sister just fits every single quality of an Aries so accurately, a.k.a the craziest of the zodiacs. Well, in a good way -I better say that so she doesn’t yell at me if she reads this! Haha.
What does the future hold for Scoria?
The future for Scoria is focused on the expansion of our product line, being in more retailers and studios, and to bring on more community-based yoga and mindfulness initiatives! We also have some exciting news coming up on a new charity partnership for 2021. Keep an eye out for it!
Anything else you would like to share?
To those reading this, I just want to say that doing your part for the world doesn’t have to be perfect and doesn’t have to befit a certain box of what people say - Awareness is the first key step.
Yara's story of rediscovering herself by reconnecting with her true self, gave her the courage to start and create a successful company. Life brings us challenges and it's beautiful to see what a positive difference Yara has made with herself and helping others. Like The Good Tee, Scoria too is an eco-conscious brand constantly trying to spread good vibes by not only doing good but also being good to yourself.