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Inspirational Women: Blogs, Yoga and Well-being
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Yoga visionary Leonie Ellyatt


“It was all garish colours, logos and leotards. Remember the bright pink?” recalls Leonie Ellyatt, a former aerobics instructor, then personal trainer, who founded the Manuka yoga and fitness wear label back in 2000. “I could see there was a huge gap in the market for low key, nice quality, affordable fitness clothing for women. I found a niche.”

What started out as a mail order business run from home, whilst juggling a young family, quickly evolved into a sought-after luxury brand stocked at Harrods and Selfridges, and described by Vogue as ‘high end comfort clothing’. This was just the beginning, though, for Leonie, who now has a team of five, including a garment technologist.
“I used to do a lot of the designing myself. I knew what I wanted from being in the gym and doing the personal training.” Was she not daunted by the sudden move from the gym to the design studio? “It didn’t even cross my mind. It couldn’t! I look back and think ignorance was bliss eh?”

This fearless ambition and vision is what makes Leonie so inspiring.
Her latest venture is a charitable one. ‘Yoga Roaming’ is a series of yoga workshops, taught by top instructors at zen-filled locations. This summer, expect to see group sun salutations in London’s parks, gardens and rooftops. “The yoga workshops were launched late last year and the response has been so fantastic we’re just going to keep running them.”

All the profits from the workshops go to the charity Mozambique Matters: “We we were looking for ways to raise awareness but also get out into the grass roots of the yoga world. It seemed like a really nice way of getting out there, promoting Manuka but doing some good at the same time.”

The first workshop was an instant hit, with people queuing up to give extra donations, and there is now a special Mozambique T-shirt created by Manuka to raise more funds. Leonie is thrilled to be in a place where she can now give something back: “Manuka was always founded on that philosophy. Someone was out in Mozambique last week and we gave them funds for school books and sewing machines. It’s so rewarding and makes us feel like what we’re doing is really worthwhile.”

Leonie’s CV:

1990 - Taught aerobics at night and worked in PR during the day
1992 - Studied personal training qualifications full-time and completed them in Chicago
1993 -96 - Launched personal training business in Hong Kong
1997 - Moved to London and opened personal training business in Kensington 2000 - Launched Manuka clothing, had baby no 1 of 3. Sold gym and set up Manuka as mail order business from home
2001 - Landed first wholesale accounts and moved into an office
2008 – Launched Yoga Roaming



Alison Taylor
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