Recently, Garage Grown Gear uncovered a company making custom yoga mats, Mondo-Mehndi, in Colorado’s Mile High City. Founder and artist Dawn Skipp sketches up intentional designs for this Denver line of unique yoga mats.
Dawn’s love of yoga, and consequently her business, grew out of her painful experience with carpal tunnel syndrome. The disablement led to her being laid off from her job as a computer programmer. She was dependent on prescription medication and experiencing weight gain. By 2003, she hit rock bottom and needed a resolution. So as a 50th birthday present she took her first yoga class.
“I started with Bikram [yoga] and it kicked my ass, but for some reason I loved it,” laughed Dawn.
Through her practice, Dawn learned about body alignment and eventually healed her condition.
Yoga also exposed her to symbology. She decided to take a class on Mehndi, also known as Henna, which inspired her to paint her first Mondo-Mehndi style piece: an enormous mural in the yoga studio where she had begun practicing.
“I loved the large representations of designs,” Dawn said. “Then I decided, let’s try this on the mat. If symbols [can] be so supportive, why not put that somewhere that I can see it all the time?”
Dawn launched Mondo-Mehndi in 2007. Initially, she hand-painted the custom yoga mats, but quickly realized that a two-week-per-mat method wasn’t an efficient business model. So, she found a professional printer that can screen-print large surface areas, such as a yoga mat.
Mats come from a supplier in New Jersey that manufactures 1/4-inch thick, 24- by 74-inch latex-free slabs—twice as thick and 5 inches longer than a standard yoga mat.
Mondo-Mehndi offers four hand-drawn designs: Ganesha, Joy, Koi, and Peacock. These designs weave together symbology and floral patterns. Additionally, it offers one hand-painted, custom design of an elaborate, tri-colored peacock.
Yogis can also choose from 15 different mat hues. Dawn provides advice on the color resonance, or how each color will inspire the mat holder.
The creative process takes place at the company’s headquarters: Dawn’s home office and basement. She draws a sketch and then transfers that blueprint onto a larger template of rolled-out butcher paper. She studies the design on that larger surface area, fixes the imperfections, and dresses up the details. Then, she re-draws a second small sketch which she can scan into illustrator, edit, and tote to the printer.
Four years after Dawn started practicing yoga she became a certified yoga instructor. Now, she leads class at Vital Yoga, Rocky Mountain PBS, and the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility.
Yoga continually dovetails inspiration into her artwork, and vice versa.
“My intention is just to bring joy and the discovery of yoga to people,” Dawn said. “If they reward themselves with a mat for sticking with it, then I also want to provide the vehicle that can take their yoga wherever they want to go.”