Tapasya Bali (MS ’02) remembers that as children she and her brother Rishi (’98) were “ambitious and entrepreneurial.” Born into a family of modest means, they grew up in Dehradun, India, a region known as the “Yoga Capital of the World.” There, in the foothills of the Himalayas, the culture of yoga was ingrained in them early. Given these circumstances, it’s easy to see how the siblings would one day “manage a company from the ethos of yoga.”
That’s how Tapasya describes YOGASMOGA, a made-in-the-USA, ecofriendly designer, manufacturer, and retailer of women’s and men’s yoga-inspired apparel and accessories. YOGASMOGA launched on Valentine’s Day 2013. Tapasya is COO; Rishi, CEO. And don’t get stuck on the name. For the uninitiated, Tapasya explains: “In Hindi it’s traditional to rhyme words. So our name is a jubilant nod of respect to our culture.”
The brother and sister came to New York City to pursue higher education. Careers on Wall Street followed, including for Tapasya 11 years at Credit Suisse and for Rishi nine at Goldman Sachs. The Balis researched and developed the idea for YOGASMOGA for years before both quit their day jobs. For them, YOGASMOGA represents going back to their roots, coming together as a team, and capitalizing on their business educations.
Family business can be notoriously tough. But not for the Balis. When asked about the pluses and minuses of family business, Tapasya quickly answered, “I don’t see any minuses. Rishi and I come from the same threads. We agree—without consulting each other—99.9 percent of the time.” Their talents are also complementary: He is the big-idea person; she is the execution person.
The Balis’ business model seems to be working well. The three-year-old company is valued at $74 million and, in addition to online sales, showcases its products in 12 (soon 14) stores in five states. The brand is buzzing: The company and its co-founders have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Women’s Wear Daily, the Huffington Post, and Bloomberg Business, among others.
What’s the secret? No secret. “The grass isn’t greener,” Tapasya says simply. “Entrepreneurship is very difficult, very hard work. You have to put in a lot of hours.” So how many hours a day does this passionate entrepreneur work? “The entire day—up to 20 hours,” she says, adding with a laugh, “and when I’m not awake, I’m probably thinking about YOGASMOGA subconsciously.”