Why This Founder Feels Every Woman Needs To Find Freedom At Her Yoga Mat — digitalundivided

Image via Freedom at the Mat

The daughter of a Memphis-based musician and a school teacher Olivia Faye Scott cashed in her journalism major to cross over into the fast-paced world of advertising. Charging up the glamorous corporate ladder, Scott branded her resume at some of the biggest names in the business, including Ogilvy & Mather, BBDO, and DDB.

“At the time, it felt like this was where I needed to be to start my career. Four or five years later, I was like, ‘Well, this is going to wear out pretty quickly. I need to figure out my path.’” The path turned into a decades-long journey that eventually led to entrepreneurship.

After crossing over into media for a period of years, Scott found herself an accidental entrepreneur when the company she worked at folded in 2009. This is when she got her first taste of consulting. She held on to a range of companies to keep cash flowing in, one of which invited her to become the head of marketing for Carol’s Daughter. But the taste of consulting was enough to satiate Scott’s desire to open a totally new firm.

“I wanted to have a real focus around my agency. So, that is when I went back out with intention.”

Part of that intentionality was Scott realizing she was outgrowing her interest in industries focused on the now, including beauty.

“I shifted more into wellness. As a company, we still stand as a merged alliance, and we still do marketing — can’t take all those years away. But we also are creating platforms that elevate people — make them feel good, drive health, and wellness.”

Part of this portfolio of companies includes Freedom At The Mat, a YouTube based yoga and wellness platform that provides a safe space for healing, community, and beautifully crafted yoga mats. Find out all about how this digitalundivided Breakthrough startup got its start, and how it’s empowering women to use just six feet of space in their living room, to take up all the space they need in this world.

digitalundivided: Tell me more about Freedom at the Mat. What inspired you to start your company?

Olivia Faye Scott, Freedom at the Mat: It was honestly, right after my divorce when I found yoga in New Jersey. I did yoga in Chicago for the first time in 1996, and I hated it and would never do it again. Things were different in New York. I went to this gym in Jersey where I had just moved with my ex-husband and they didn’t offer spin class, which is what I was really used to doing. They only offered yoga. I got in there and found it to be fascinating. I didn’t know until then there were so many different types of yoga. So, bhakti you know, vinyasa, hatha, ashtanga, kundalini, etc.

Later, I was at the Asheville yoga festival in Asheville, North Carolina, under the teaching of an amazing bhakti yoga teacher. He had us stay in this very complicated pose. And he was like, stay there, just like I want you to stay in the relationship versus running. Stay, stay, stay. In that moment, I was leaving the situation with my then boyfriend at the mat. “I’m not going to let this run over my mind as I’m leaving this at the mat today,” right? When I returned home to New York, I wrote a proposal for Freedom at the Mat.

For those of us who live in New York, San Fran or LA and other places, we don’t have a lot of space to live. You really don’t have a lot of room to kind of get away from your problems. If you live in an apartment in New York with a partner or children, it’s just impossible. So, this idea came to me, and I was like, how about you go into the corner of your bedroom, lay out a yoga mat, you sit there or do some Asana, or you do some meditation, but you can find your freedom at the mat. You don’t have to find it in a pill, you don’t have to go find it with a whole lot of money, in a yoga studio or wherever else. You can find it at the mat. That was where the concept came to me, and I developed it further. It became a woman-centric movement with online classes and offline classes to help people just find their way, find their breathing, and just find themselves on the ground. That’s where it came from.

digitalundivided: That’s amazing. It’s no surprise with your background in advertising, you were able to use literal user experience to develop the brand. What kind of services and products do you offer through Freedom At The Mat and how did you decide that those were the services and products that were right for your company?

Olivia Faye Scott, Freedom at the Mat: Do you want the flop or the real truth, I’ll give you both? We are a content company, selling yoga mats. The foundation we have is a YouTube channel, and that content is also available on freedomatthemat.com. That particular content includes short form, affirmations, meditations, expert interviews and yoga sequences for busy women. It is intended to be the thought for any woman who is either in duress and needs a reprieve, and needs affirmation or meditation, and men can join of course.

We all love Yoga with Adriene, and there are plenty of people out there who are on YouTube and doing YouTube. But for me, it’s really about finding freedom. I’d say, 50% of our content is actually affirmations, meditations and interviews. The other 50% is yoga. You’re not just coming to learn how to do yoga. It’s really about how you can find your freedom, mind, body, and spirit…your soul. We also sell yoga mats that are really beautiful and designed by artists of color. We sell a guided journal and a candle, and some teas.

But the truth is, when I first began, I really saw this as my offering to the world. I wasn’t trying to make money off of wellness. For me, the biggest challenge was watching so many people who are unwell, and watching them resort to all types of things to find outside of themselves, right? None of that’s needed. What’s needed is you. We all need to learn to breathe, get ourselves grounded in the present moment, trust that the present is going to unfold as it’s going to, and know that you’re going to be okay. Understanding that many of us go through many acute situations, but it’s life. I have to continue to do my yoga. I have to continue to breathe, continue to eat well, right? I found for me that if I could just make Freedom At The Mat a platform for women to have at their disposal, that’s what I wanted to do.

Image via Olivia Faye Scott

digitalundivided: That’s incredible. If you can share, what are some of your favorite stories that you’ve seen come out of the space created through Freedom at the Mat.

Olivia Faye Scott, Freedom at the Mat: When I first began teaching in Harlem in New York, we would have a component of the class about sharing, mirroring and listening. This woman would come every week faithfully. She just wanted to look for space to free her spirit and her mind from her very difficult marriage. During the communication portion, she would share. We would work through her marriage and how she could keep herself sane and balanced. We became like a family at a certain point. We helped her through that marriage, and she was able to keep that marriage up, stay married.

What I do in my classes is not just physical exercise. It’s time for you to pause. To think through the prompt, to share a response with a neighbor. There was another woman whom I remember, was struggling with getting older and having to relocate to go take care of her mother in Miami. We could support her with our online classes, and she just had a moment knowing that we would be her community.

Women have grown to understand that so much is in us. That’s why I really wanted Freedom At The Mat to be a free space. So much is in each of us. But every single day of living this life can get you clouded. So if you don’t have that space, that six foot space on the floor, or whatever you deem your meditation pillow to be your space, you can’t really get all the stuff out of your spirit in your mind to live a free life and pursue your life with abandon.

digitalundivided: Is there any advice or insight you feel called to tell the Latina and Black women entrepreneurs in our community?

Olivia Faye Scott, Freedom at the Mat: I’m sure many of us know this. But to the extent that you can really focus, it’s going to help you. A lot of times as founders, we get frustrated. A lot of times, we are looking at what many of our colleagues are accomplishing. Some of them have crazy social media followings, and they’re getting speaking engagements all over, and you’re trying to figure out how to be visible, be seen, and drive your business. There’s so many questions that you have as a founder.

I want to invite all of us to focus on the work that your spirit has called you to do — whatever it is that you’ve been called to do. You focus on doing the work. What I find time and time again, is that when I actually do the work — all the accolades- everything comes. I think there was a piece of advice that was given to me when I first started from one of my mentors in New York, who was like, “Olivia, don’t get the big office on Madison Avenue. If you start out spending all your money on fixed expenses, you will not have the money to be able to grow your business.” Spend more time doing the work. I just began doing more videos, more content, more work. The number of requests that came in randomly to my inbox came to me. I want to offer permission for all of us who are out here hustling, and trying, to do our very best work.

Are you a Miami-based, early-stage founder looking to understand your customer better, grow marketing strategies, and gain networking opportunities to scale your venture? Apply to digitalundivided’s BREAKTHROUGH Miami program today! Each company accepted into the program will receive a $5,000 grant — applications close August 23rd, 2023.

[Editors note]: This interview has been lightly edited from its original transcription.