By Natasha Zo
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Sophie Parienti is an inspiring woman: as a successful entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience, she mastered running her business together with her loving husband. She started in the print press and took YOGI TIMES magazine through death and rebirth with her yoga practice’s constant support.
Finding Home and Self
In 1992 Sophie left her home in France and went to LA for a two-week stay with a friend. Within three days, she knew LA was her new home. She ended up quitting school and returned to California for a six-month visit. It would be four and a half years before she flew back to France; all in all, she’d live in California for the next sixteen years where she met her first husband.
Sophie speaks of the passion and eventual end of this relationship as being the first significant “teacher” which lead her to do a lot of work on herself and set her onto a lifelong journey of self-discovery.
A girlfriend then took her to a yoga class. At the end of the class, the teacher guided them into Savasana, and she lay down on her mat. The teacher sounded a gong, asking the students to relax completely and to follow the gong. Sophie followed the gong deep into herself. She experienced a visualization so completely she felt it becoming real. She described it as connecting the inner essence to the mind that can visualize it and the body that can respond to it. It was a truly profound experience for Sophie and left her wondering, “What was that?” She decided to follow the adventure.
Venturing into the Business of Yoga
She soon found her teacher, Bryan Kest, and when Bryan launched his first teacher training, Sophie seized the opportunity with both hands and threw herself into it. The following six months transformed her life. She developed a daily yoga and meditation practice. It opened her up to the depth of yoga as a science. She discovered how yoga and meditation allowed her to open her mind, access her inner essence and experience totality. She incorporated it all into her daily practice, and it has become her guiding light throughout the ups and downs of her life. By incorporating the practice in her everyday life and taking the serenity of meditation off the mat, she has weathered the storms that come with the entrepreneurial life.
As she was teaching yoga, she decided to start her business. Together with her Japanese roommate Artist Kiko Tabuchi, Sophie created Yogi Doggie, a children sportswear line, a little stuffed animal, and dreamed of children’s books where he’d travel the world to discover roads to enlightenment. Sophie had a creative mind, Kiko, creative hands. But no matter their efforts, Yogi Doggy did not catch on. Now, Sophie realizes they were ahead of their time. LA was the Mecca of yoga, but it was not as widely known and loved as it is now.
The Practice off the Mat
As they were struggling, they thought of a newsletter to promote their business. It was then, on a Tuesday night, that Sophie and Kiko had their vision of a magazine that would unify the entire community. The next day, the two set to work, and Yogi Doggie became YOGI TIMES magazine’s mascot.
Neither of the women had a background in journalism and publishing. They worked hard, 16-hour workdays, teaching themselves the skills they needed, and building the magazine from the ground up. Soon after the launch, when Sophie was ready to give up, she spoke to her then-boyfriend, Jess, in France. He encouraged her to keep going and promised her he’d help them on his return. He did, and he moved in with them, becoming the third founder and bringing his logistic and strategic talents to the team.
They found their cycle of Dharma; of learning, applying, and growing. Sophie laughingly tells of how Dharma tricked them: they started with Yogi Doggie, hoping for the American dream. And YOGI TIMES, too, was meant to make them money. But they discovered that they followed their Dharma, not towards riches, but service to a higher purpose. And when they focused on what they could mean to their community with that service, Dharma rewarded them too, and the magazine eventually became a success. In this, the magazine became Sophie’s most effective practice off the mat. For Sophie, to live is to practice.
The Birth of YOGI TIMES
Their first issue was made on a large, old IMac, three of them working on one screen. They found a local printer, a 45-minute drive from their home, who would help them. One night, around midnight, when they had finished their first issue, the trio drove over there to deliver the files – this was before the internet and email were widely available – so that the printer could squeeze them between two jobs. Upon arrival, they discovered that the files were in the wrong format. So they drove the full 45 minutes back home, unplugged their clunky IMac, and drove the whole thing over to the printer. With four people behind the screen, they compiled the correct files and sent it to print.
One week later, the box arrived on their doorstep, and opening it, they felt like children opening their Christmas presents: 3.000 copies of a twelve-page newsletter, printed in red and blue as that was the cheapest printing option. Jess distributed them throughout the city, to be picked up for free. Three days later, they went back and asked how they were received: Every copy had been picked up, and people asked for more. The magazine was a resounding success!
YOGI TIMES became a full colour, beautiful magazine, produced from an office with 15 people working daily and they launched www.yogitimes.com.?
The Responsibility of a Conscious Entrepreneur
Naturally, the team also had their lows. After seven years of hard work, the financial crisis hit in 2008. Within three months, 80% of their advertisers had to pull out, and the company went under. YOGI TIMES disappeared overnight.
They had to let go of their team, their tribe. With no income and a small child to take care of, Jess and Sophie had no other option than to move back in with their parents in France. They had no closure, for themselves or their readers, no last goodbyes. Sophie had to work through a massive burn out and never expected to relaunch the magazine. However, she and Jess had decided against the buy-out offers. This company was their baby; it represented their passion and their community. As a conscious entrepreneur, she felt it was her duty to weigh the consequences of all her business decisions and their impact on their community.
As Jess and Sophie recovered slowly from the 2008 crisis trauma, they began receiving emails and messages from readers every week, asking about YOGI TIMES returning. At the time, they were trying to figure out what to do next, considering everything but going into the media industry again. They decided to take these constant reminders as a sign from the universe and relaunched YOGI TIMES as a digital magazine.
Again, the two of them had to build everything from the ground up, and figure out how to publish, this time online, as there were no funds to hire outside experts. But through their dedication to the service and each other, they succeeded the second time. Having died two years previous, YOGI TIMES was reborn and found its place once again in the yoga community along with its sister companies yogitimesboutique.com and yogitimesuni.com.
Today Sophie and Jess live between Bali and Europe, still running their digital media. Sometimes Sophie misses the effervescence of the newsroom they had in downtown LA. Yet passion, and utmost ethical standards remain the same.
Sophie and Jess now work with freelancers and contributors, but don’t want a team in an office like before. Working online, more calmly and strategically allows them to focus on their other passion: helping people be at their highest potential through their coaching skills. “We’re working now on our online courses on personal development with a particular focus on the couple’s relationship. We’re also releasing soon our first book on how to become an extraordinary couple!” – more on sophieparienti.com.
The journey of an entrepreneur never ends and does not know vacation days. The yoga community is growing day by day worldwide, and YOGI TIMES is here to serve the community and let its founders carry their Dharma through their highest potential!
About the author:
Natasha Zo is a former journalist from Siberia turned international media relations specialist and communication strategist. She is a founder of Cosa Famosa media – a boutique PR agency on a mission to amplify messages of conscious leaders through earned media. Known for her connector skills, she guided a number of authors to Amazon bestseller status, booked national TV, top tier media, and over 400 podcast interviews.