Local yogi creates Pure empire

Yogis of all levels take their places on the floor of a 30-degree Celsius, dimly lit room. The co-owner and instructor, tall and slender in stature presses ‘play,’ and loud pop hits boom from the speakers. She puts on a headset over her platinum blonde hair, which is up in a messy bun, “testing, testing,” she says.  Everyone is in for a workout that is sure to have them drenched in sweat by the end of the 75 minute class.

While living in Australia, Amber Stratton sent an e-mail to her best friend that would only be the beginning of a healthy living empire for the two in Ottawa.

“When I was in Australia I really had a lot of time to think, I wasn’t working much. I just sent her an email and was like, ‘let’s do this,’” says 34-year-old Stratton.

Since opening three years ago, Pure Yoga Ottawa has expanded into a trifecta of exercise, apparel, and dining.

Stratton and co-owner Jen Dalgleish, 34, have been best friends since sixth grade.  Growing up in Manotick, ON, the two began their entrepreneurial endeavors together at a young age, crafting homemade jewelry and bringing it to local shop owners.

Decades later, after living both together and apart, the two have taken their entrepreneurial skills to the world of health and fitness.

“I have learned more in the last three years, four years, than I have ever, than I could ever, going to university or going to college,” says Dalgleish.  Neither partner attended post-secondary school.

Pure Yoga first opened its doors in Westboro in March 2012.  Two years later, a second location opened in Centretown, which celebrated its first birthday on Jan. 26.

Stratton began practicing yoga at 21, after her lifestyle as a self-proclaimed “gym rat” left her feeling tight and tense. She fell in love with it. She got her teacher’s training in 2006 and began teaching right away.

Stratton says she hadn’t even thought of opening a studio until years later, at 28.

When conceiving of Pure Yoga, the many studios she had visited inspired Stratton. Her goal was to bring a studio to Ottawa that was modern and welcoming, and didn’t have a “granola feel to it,” as she calls it.

“For me even walking into some studios I felt uncomfortable and intimidated and I was a yoga teacher, I couldn’t imagine how other people felt,” she recalls.

The duo received funds from a silent owner to open their first location.  The profits from the success of their Westboro spot paid for the second location. Pure Yoga has been breaking even since opening, according to Stratton.

Pure Yoga has a mixed clientele to appeal to the many goals people may have for doing yoga. There are about 25 teachers between both locations, whose styles range from athletic, to spiritual, to anatomical.

“I feel its more accessible for people, you know people don’t feel like they have to be something that they’re not or something that’s really foreign to them,” says Stratton.

Pure Yoga also has its own line of tanks and t-shirts, which began when it opened and continues to develop.

“I will go ahead and say, we’re the first studio in Ottawa to do our own tank tops. And a few other people are doing them now but we were definitely the first ones doing the tanks,” says Stratton.

Pure is not stopping at just yoga and tanks. Food is their next quest. Pure Kitchen will open in February 2015, featuring a vegetarian menu and juice bar.

“Pure as a brand… we view it as a lifestyle. From the clothes that you wear, to what you do for fitness to how you eat and how you treat your body,” says Stratton.