Lauren Imparato: On Challenging Wellness Norms & Building A Globally Revered Lifestyle Brand

A California girl raised on athletic fields, basketball courts and swimming pools, Lauren Imparato crossed states in pursuit of a new adventure; but after moving to New York to take on the Wall Street trading floors, she soon found herself embodying a stressed-out and overworked generation.

Turning to yoga and meditation in a bid to break her addiction to Manhattan’s treadmill workouts, and to help her keep it together on the trading room floor, Imparato discovered her new approach to wellness could be used to make much bigger changes.

Now leading yoga classes for tens of thousands across the globe, gracing the pages of high-profile publications and boasting a quarter of a million social media followers, Imparato explains how she quit the high-powered corporate world to launch a globally revered lifestyle brand, yoga studio, and still make time to write a best-selling book.

On hard work and hustle…

To be completely honest, I hated both yoga and meditation when I started them. But, I soon realised that with regular practice on and off the mat, yoga and its underlying philosophies can change you from the inside out, as well as the outside in.

Yet, it wasn’t until the financial crisis of 2008 hit that I realised I could provide what everybody was spending countless hours (and dollars) looking for but could never find – a 360, realistic lens for wellness.

So, in the Spring of 2009 I resigned from my job as Vice President of Morgan Stanley to launch I.AM.YOU., a lifestyle brand, digital magazine, and yoga studio in Manhattan.

Setting out with a four step plan, I began by rebranding myself from Wall Street to wellness. Taking the task to hand by myself, I wanted to make sure there was enough demand for what I had envisioned, and thankfully there was.

The New York studio quickly became busy, I got asked to lead classes for tens of thousands of people across the globe and my blog was picked up as one of the ‘15 Best’ by Tumblr.  

Building the company on my own via word-of-mouth consisted of hard work and hustle, but over the next six years my story and unique approach to wellness caught the attention of the press, allowing me to stay true to my vision.

On following your gut…

I branded I.AM.YOU. and my no.1, bestselling book RETOX by following my gut. I wanted to create a form of wellness that appealed to people like me – the work hard, play hard go-getters who want results, but hate wasted time, money and gimmicks.

It might have taken longer and it certainly felt less ‘flashy’, but it helped to build my brand for the long haul.

Each arm of the business, be it yoga, nourishment, mindset or music, helps the others to grow, and by maintaining high quality offerings from a selection of handpicked and extremely well-trained professionals, it has allowed me to differentiate the brand.

On creating a voice…

Creating a strong and authentic voice has allowed me to capture the audience I set out to help from the get go.

I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not. I eat pizza, love burgers, dance on tables with champagne, work extremely hard, and sweat every day.  I want to be successful, happy, and healthy with a great family, career and personal life and I suffer from the exact same issues everyone else has.

I give it to you straight up, the way I live it, and that sets me apart from my competitors. But self-belief definitely helps.

Belief combined with hustle fosters success, so believe in your dream, work hard and just do it. It is so much more rewarding than having it handed to you on a silver platter, as enticing as that sometimes sounds.

Lauren Imparato: On Challenging Wellness Norms & Building A Globally Revered Lifestyle Brand
Image credit: Mick Rock

On perfecting your craft…

It’s easy to enter the wellness world with no technical background, but that isn’t for me. I am a geek and firmly believe in education and academics, so I decided to approach my career in wellness like I would have with any other.

I carried out intensive studies in nutrition, mindfulness, and other aspects of wellness because I wanted to make sure that I’m not wasting anyone’s time. I give people solutions that actually work, solutions that are rooted in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and philosophy, just like my book is.

On overcoming challenges…

I wrote RETOX as a wellness handbook for the educated go-getter in the know. It’s for everyone juggling careers, social lives and personal lives, and for those of us unwilling to sacrifice these goals in the name of health.

It cuts through the dogma, diets and stress and gives people a straight up dose of what they actually need. It can be applied no matter where you are, including the office, the tube or a dinner party.

As I write in RETOX, “RETOX does not change your world – it makes you better within it”, and it helps people take on modern life’s biggest challenges.

Being an entrepreneur, every day poses challenges, but I’ve learnt that it’s all about how you face them.

On the road ahead…

Back while I was sitting on the trading floor I could sense a tidal wave of wellness coming and I knew I wanted to be in the mix, not chasing it.

The wellness market might be a little bit more crowded now, but a lot of the new players don’t necessarily have the credibility behind their offerings.

Using all of the experience and data I’ve gathered over the past 6.5 years I plan on building and scaling RETOX into the premier 360 wellness company of the future.

And as consumers start to make more educated buying selections, forcing the overall standard of the wellness market to increase, the quality brands will shine in the long run.

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