Updated: Jan 19
A love story. Sort of.
A behind the scenes peek at product design and development, (AKA Feelix Backstory).
Like most yogis I like moving, and I care about the environment. When I changed jobs to one accessible by train we sold the car in favour of cycling and car share for weekend trips.
This for the most part works well transport plus exercise = win. Though living in Melbourne I don’t like to cycle in the rain after a close call where I slipped into the tram tracks and bent my front wheel getting out. I’m still not entirely sure how I didn’t crash!
Or, it did work well. Until I decided to do my yoga teacher training.
The studio was only 6km away but Melbourne PT only works if you start from the city and head out. If you want to go around your options are limited. To get to the studio I needed a bus and two trams, or a 1.5k walk, a bus and a tram. Doable but inconvenient. Cycling was definitely the preferred option.
Only, I couldn’t cycle with my yoga mat.
I had a backpack full of books, snacks, water bottle, the mat would fit but the bag wouldn’t close and would open with the weight. I put it on my handlebars, and I couldn’t get to the brakes!? I abandoned that option pretty quickly and left the bike at a tram stop that day.
There were hours lost googling for options only to come up with expensive ugly bags made in countries with questionable working conditions. Or really cute options on etsy that wouldn’t accommodate aforementioned stuff.
I already had bags I didn’t need more. I needed an easy option that could turn my current bag into a yoga mat bag.
Zip tying my bag closed with the mat poking out the top was not a long term solution. I started designing, making, playing. My first ideas were based on baby carriers, designing pockets that looked like kangaroo pouches, with fabric folding on itself clips, buckles, pockets. Engineering works of art. For some reason I didn’t stop there.
Why not create something that had multiple uses, what if the carrier could double as a yoga stretching strap?
That became my goal. There are more of course. I’m still trying to find my way into the circular economy but for the moment I’m Ok with supporting local manufacturers.
If this were a telemovie this is where you’d throw in the montage of hours-and-hours of twisting turning bits of webbing, string, configuring, sewing, unpicking, designing, scrunching up papers throwing them in recycling (not the bin, I’m flawed but not a monster). I used buckles from old belts, explored snap locks, overall bib brace catches, (can you feel the desperation?).
I found a configuration that worked. It was dependent on being able to move the joining mechanism to anyplace you needed it. A win for all the tall people of the world looking for a strap. Also something never done before.
Into the rabbit hole of international patents I fell. I now had a plan to share this, the last thing I wanted was to be getting sued for using someone else's idea! I emerged on the other side, used a business network to find a lawyer and secured my own design.
A design is one thing. Ethics is another. I needed an alternative fastener to a made-by-the-million non-recyclable plastic buckle/clip. Resume design montage only this time I’m chopping up bits of cardboard, researching Japanese woodworking for interlocking pieces and learning just how many splinters you can get from pallet boxes.
By this point the husband is starting to get worried I’ve lost my mind…
Then I found something that worked. Using the angles of the webbing around the mat to pull against each other, the weight of the mat "hello gravity!" did its magic locking everything securely in place.
There was a happy dance.
A trip to the local maker space to try it out. First ones failed of course, I broke a bit on the CNC machine, I almost cried. Then same as with the cardboard (and balsa wood) I edited, retried, edited, retried. Found it. Just in time for Wanderlust 2019. Nothing like a deadline to bring things together!
Side note: I apologise to everyone I accosted at Wanderlust looking for feedback, first impressions, interest. I went to another festival a week later and everyone wanted to talk to me - it was horrible.
Thank you to those that hung around, gave it a try, shared opinions, colour ideas. I’m forever grateful. An especially huge thank you to those that have been testing version 2 and now 3 in the real world who have helped to make the following improvements.
Testing results are in and the strap is better for it.
The lock now has engraving to identify which way is up, as well as numbered slots to make threading easier.
Instead of a lock at each end of the strap there is now just one.
The snap faster which turned out to be pretty unstable has been replaced with a heavy duty rivet. So thankful to learn this early! Real world testing beats recalls any day.
The lock is easily removed making it easier to use as a classic strap during class, no holding the wood, so softer on your hands, feet etc. Bonus this also makes the strap fully washable.
Instructions updated with more pictures and threading details.
Oh and while trying to explain what I made to someone I discovered a way to add a travel mat directly to your bike (I might still need to work on my ‘pitch’...)!
Thanks for joining me on my journey so far.
It won’t be long to wait now. Updates for the Kickstarter launch campaign to come soon be sure to sign up so you don't miss out.
We are one and all the same.