By Katia Ostapets
Photography by Kareen Mallon
Throughout her career Alex Leikermoser, the owner of a Toronto-based company Yogagurl, has accumulated many recognitions. This includes being nominated by the Luminato Festival as one of Toronto’s 1,000 most creative women in 2008, being chosen as one of Toronto’s top 125 female entrepreneurs by CRAVE Book, as well as being noted as one of the Top 4 Yogawear designers in Canada. Her clothing has appeared internationally, from Yoga Journal to clothing on actresses in American Pie Presents the Naked Mile.
“I’ve always been very passionate about creating things whether it was interiors, clothing or art,” she says.
At the time of her graduation from Ryerson University in 1994, Leikermoser’s focus was eco and sustainable interior design. She spent her childhood summers in southern Germany with her family. It was there that her uncles introduced her to sustainable design, which was becoming popular in the country at the time. Although Leikermoser was being hired for her sense of design, the ‘eco’ aspect was an added benefit for her clients. They liked “the fact that it was good for them.”
Originally, Leikermoser started with residential design, eventually moving to commercial projects. She describes her style as “very Zen” – a modern aesthetic with environmental elements: “I try to bring nature elements into whatever I’m doing. I find they are powerful tools that inspire people and connect them with nature. I also love pops of colour, like pink and brown.”
Leikermoser’s favourite space that she has designed was a small private residence on the beach in Santa Monica. The ocean and the beach inspired her, and “it came to [her] naturally how to extend the inside outside and the outside in.” This project was particularly memorable, as it was the antithesis of Leikermoser’s typical challenge of bringing nature into a city environment.
Leikermoser also uses the ancient studies of energy flow, Feng Shui and Vastu, in order to create the optimal feel in one’s home. For example, she always makes sure to incorporate fire, water, earth and air in her designs.
She also has a huge love for yoga that she started practicing in university. “During my first class I felt like it was something I’ve always done. I loved it!”
When she was 29, Leikermoser found herself burnt out. “I got a wake up call in terms of my health. So I really looked at finding more balance and time for myself.” In an effort to live a healthier and more fulfilling life, she decided to take a yoga-teacher training course. “I found it was an amazing journey to commit that kind of time to yourself, doing a course that was all about your health and wellness.”
Ever the entrepreneur, Leikermoser’s next project evolved organically. “During the yoga teacher training, as a creative outlet I started hand stencilling T-shirts and ‘wife-lovers’ with cheeky words and sayings, like Yoganista.” A few people in the class loved them and asked if she could make them some pieces.
The name of her company was a combination of ideas: “People were calling me ‘yoga girl,’ and others called me the ‘modern guru.’ So my friends suggested I take the ‘u’ and put it into ‘girl’. I loved that!”
Still working as an interior designer part-time, Leikermoser discovered a personal need for stylish but comfortable clothing that she could wear to a client meeting and then straight into the yoga studio. As it was before the age of Lululemon, she began sewing her own clothes. They were made from cotton or linen and had a very European aesthetic.
Leikermoser admits that she’s not the best sewer. “I am the kind of person – I get an idea in my head and say ‘let’s get this done!’ My strength is more in envisioning of the line!”
Keeping her body healthy with yoga, Leikermoser also began educating herself on nutrition. In 2009, she began sharing her knowledge and experiences as a life coach. “I was growing personally and, as an entrepreneur, your businesses often reflects your personal values and growth.” Since then she has worked with Hollywood Stars and world-renowned musicians.
In 2011, the yoganista opened her yoga studio and yoga-wear boutique at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and spa in downtown Toronto.
This year, Leikermoser wants to attract a Ritz-Carlton-esque partnership for her yoga-wear business, as well as narrowing down her clothing line to just five staple pieces. In the meantime, her next projects are the Yoga Journey in January and the Chocolate Challenge – “Can you eat raw chocolate (that’s good for you) for 21 days in a row?”
As always, Leikermoser urges you to follow her mantra that is also printed on Yogagurl clothing: “Whine less. Breathe More…”
Alex is pure inspiration! What a brilliant example of a powerful creative female entrepreneur!
Good write-up. I certainly love this site. Continue the good work!