We are excited to announce the launch of a new revolt.tv editorial feature, The REVOLT C-Suite! Twice a month, we will interview cultural movers and shakers who have displayed incredible business leadership, acumen and strategy. We will discuss branded content, partnership deals, social media strategy and much more. To start the series, we sat down with Claire Fountain, Founder of #TrillYoga.
With the founding of #TrillYoga, this Mississippi native is converging two words that you'd NEVER expect in the same sentence: hip-hop and yoga. Fountain's massive social media presence and A-list clientele has positioned her as a leading voice on health and wellness within the culture.
Check our conversation below.
Yoga seems like such a hipster exercise and experience. How did you create the movement Trill Yoga from that? Furthermore, what is Trill Yoga?
That’s very true, and it’s a big part of why I started practicing. There are a lot of stigmas and stereotypes around yoga that keep those who could benefit from it the most, from even trying it. They think “its not for my body type, it’s slow, its yuppie, it’s… a number of things." For me, I never followed the rules, and knew yoga could be done in a way that fit your own style, which actually is the essence of yoga…a return to your most authentic self which is how Trill Yoga was formed. Trill Yoga started as a hashtag because I was doing yoga in a way that no one had seen or experienced before. It is my way of life on and off the mat—you can practice how you want, where you want, wear what you want, listen to the music you want…. and still reap the positive benefits, physical, mental, spiritual, that yoga has to offer.
How does music and hip-hop culture intersect in your work and brand?
Music is a huge part of my life, as it is for many people. It naturally entered my yoga practice; as when you do yoga, you choose the soundtrack—even want, even if it's silence. Growing up in Mississippi, on a super eclectic mix of project pat, Three 6 Mafia, and old blues, my tastes have always skewed toward hip-hop but I still listen to anything that moves me. From hip-hop, to R&B, to electric, to singer/songwriters to digital rock bands. Music takes you places. And since yoga is a moving meditation, whatever moves you should be what you listen to. Let music be part of that journey. I think the juxtaposition of the hip-hop and yoga are really what intrigues people, like how do two seeming unrelated things come together? But, that’s the beauty of Trill Yoga—you can just do you.
How did you get so involved and immersed in yoga to begin with?
I started yoga when I was 15, back in Jackson, dealing with anxiety and depression, trying to figure out what I could do that was holistic and natural instead of being medicated. Not sure if yoga saved me or if it helped me save myself, but it became a constant in my life, that has grown over the years.
You’ve grown a tremendous following on social — what do you attribute that to? Did you have an intentional strategy?
It really was never my plan! It happened very fast, but for me, yoga isn’t a trend. This is something I have been doing and will continue to do even when the double taps disappear. I think my following comes from people being intrigued, inspired and seeing themselves in me. Like if she can be strong and shaped that way, and do yoga her way, maybe I can try that “yoga” too. Even if someone is only on my page for the music I play or what kind of sneakers I wear, it still gets them thinking about yoga and wellness in a different way. Hopefully a way they can take back to their own lives. Ultimately, everyone doesn’t have to practice yoga, but if they are healthier, and happier and more accepting of their own bodies and the care and keeping of that body? My work is done.
Let's dig deeper here. How do you know when to share on social on what to share on social?
I post maybe once a day or maybe I don’t post at all. If I don’t have content that I want to put out, I’m not going to like flood content for the sake of it, you know? At this point, its about being strategic and going, “this is our image, this what we want to convey, this is our message” and leaving it at that because [for me] its quality over quantity. I’m much more interested in the quality over too much, too much, too much. We live in an age of over-information, overexposure, and just too much so it’s just like pulling it back a little bit and being more precise. In a time of overexposure, a little mystery is really nice. A little mystery to keep things, you know, to keep things a little mysterious.
And mystery from a science level, drives dopamine and keeps people interested. Not that I’m trying to manipulate people [laughs] but it keeps them interested and that’s important. To have some mystique, you know. There’s analytics that can run [data] in terms of days and times and what your audience actually responds the best to, which is I think is kind of the first step for anybody is to go, “what are we doing right and what can we do better.”
You do a lot of yoga photo shoots in random locations like subway stations, parks, stoops? What’s the thinking behind that?
It started because I’m a little nuts and will just stretch and do yoga anywhere. The images ended up being really amazing, and back in 2012 no one was doing that. Plus, they added a level of grit and grime to this “pristine” practice. All I’m saying is yoga is not just on an expensive mat in a studio, or on some tropical island. It can be in a concrete jungle, it can be in the public space of mass transit, it can exist in your life as you already are. Like I always say, come as you are, it’s just yoga.
You’ve worked a lot with Nike and high-profile athletes. What do you think draws them to you over other yoga professionals? What about your brand draws them in?
Being a big dork, I spend a great deal of time reading and researching the work I do. So a wealth of knowledge, combined with my work as a personal trainer, gives me a more well rounded approach to the body. With yoga, I’m much more physical and practical when I teach, vs esoteric and spiritual. It makes it much less intimidating, and really focuses on the aspects they need for their bodies and the sports they play. Like I said, if you can give people a different experience with something that is greatly beneficial for them, everyone wins. Now if I could just get them all to be more consistent!
What’s next for the Trill Yoga in 2016?
Broadening the reach and message of the movement is always on! But there is a tour happening, in August of this year, which is a full experience type of class, in L.A., Miami, Austin, Toronto, and, of course, NYC. I will also be doing some classes in London over the summer, the beginning of the global works. I’ll also be growing my personal brand in the social and digital spaces. Stay tuned!
You’ve started yoga workshops this year—what do you want people to leave with if they attend? How can people sign up?
Yes! It’s been exciting to be able to teach in intimate class settings and focus on a specific area of focus. In terms of what they leave with, hopefully, it’s more knowledge, or at least a better understanding of their body, and tools they can use at home. Workshops might be labeled as opening but they are just as much about strength as they are flexibility. For future events, everything will be listed on iamtrillyoga.com. And if you’re not in NYC or one of my tour cities, there are digital programs on clairefountain.com. So many options!
You write and create videos surrounding yoga culture and healthy living. How important is content creation to your brand?
For me, having a background in all wellness and writing really supports content creation from a print standpoint, but content also includes images and videos, as you mention. It’s extremely important to me to keep on the next wave, and be able to flex my creative skills as the brand grows, all the while making sure the message is strong and consistent. There is power in owning your image and how it’s represented through content. Perception is all you have when you can’t sit and talk with everyone about your ideals or concepts. So having content that supports and conveys your message is powerful. People are visual nowadays, and social media has acted as a perfect platform for this. I also love showcasing photographers, cinematographers, and artists of all forms who can contribute.