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I Am Houston: Jollie

yoga

Meet Hilary Amburgey and Elizabeth Thompson, founders of Jollie, the mindful movement brand with heart.

Created by two women who bonded over a shared vision for healthy families, they developed a company that elevates fitness and yoga accessories to encourage creativity, authenticity, and joy. It was important to them to do this while also respecting Mother Earth and giving back to pediatric cancer patients – a cause near and dear to their hearts.

With its core mission of ‘do good and give back’, Jollie sets out to get you moving. By creating absolutely gorgeous, soft movement mats, eco-friendly multi-purpose straps and their signature Kid Kit, they do just that. Packed full of fun, the kid kits offer many hours of movement, engagement and fun for kids of all ages while the mats are excellent to enjoy anything from yoga class to playtime. The best part is, that every purchase yields a donation of a free mat to a pediatric cancer patient.

HFM spoke with Hilary Amburgey and Elizabeth Thompson to find out what motivates them and what’s in store for the future.

Love the concept behind the development of Jollie – did you ever start up a kids/family yoga studio/program in Houston?

Elizabeth: Yes, prior to COVID in 2020, Hilary and I launched a yoga business for children called MilkLoveYoga. We were teaching in community centers, libraries and local schools. When the pandemic started, we recorded and loaded our yoga classes onto the website. We also provided downloadable yoga games, crafts and activities that go along with the classes. Now that COVID restrictions are starting to ease up, we are hoping that we will be able to teach in schools next year.

What has been the proudest moment/accomplishment since you started the company?

Elizabeth: A significant amount of people have told me they are so impressed. I find this extremely humbling and a very nice compliment. The entire process has been both a learning curve and a very fun experience. I do feel like we have worked hard, and it is rewarding for people to recognize that.

Hilary: Elizabeth and I spent over a year creating Jollie, and for a while it was difficult to explain to friends and family what we did day in and day out. Now that we have a physical product and brand to show for our hard work, it is exciting to see people’s reactions to even the smallest details, such as the branding and packaging.

You both have little ones, how are you able to balance and manage your business? What is your secret?

Elizabeth: Each other. I could not have done this without Hilary. When we met, we both immediately knew we wanted to work together. We have very opposite strengths and then there are some things that we 100% agree on. We each bring a different and important point of view to the conversation. My business background and her science and nursing background have both been tremendously helpful. The first secret is asking for help, whether it be from Hilary, my husband, my family or my nanny. The second is turning it off. Sometimes I need to be in full mom mode and just have to turn off the emails. You can’t always be everything to everyone and it is important to notice the times when we need to step away and be fully present. Finally, a lot of YOGA!

Hilary: I don’t have family in Houston, so in addition to relying heavily on the most AMAZING nanny, I am very fortunate to have a very helpful husband and fabulous neighbors that are like family. With three young children, and another one on the way, I came to terms with the idea that my home might not be 100% in order all of the time. I constantly try to remind myself to live in the moment and soak up these early years with my children.

What is one surprising outcome since starting Jollie?

Elizabeth: The overwhelming response around the country. We thought Houston would be our strongest market since we are from here and most of our hospitals and foundations are here in Houston. We have seen interest from people all around the United States.

Hilary: I am constantly surprised by the cities and states where we see orders placed. I love that people all over the U.S. are talking about Jollie and are inspired to incorporate mindful movement into their daily lives.

The Kid Kit is amazing – what is your favorite part of the box?

Elizabeth: My favorite elements are the pose cards, breath cards and poster. I love the drawings and the colors we were able to incorporate. I also love that we are bringing more yoga to children. The poses and breathing techniques were specifically chosen to help a child learn and build a practice. Each pose has a different purpose and ways to level up, and can be paired with a different breath. I love that this is a strong foundation of tools that can be used in the classroom, on the sports field or in a hospital room, and they are fun to look at!

Hilary: I especially love the breathing cards and the signed copy of the Breathe and Be book. I was so excited when I found that book on vacation with my family and knew right away that it had to be a part of our Happy Kid Kit. The colors, pictures and messages in the book were all so beautiful and aligned well with our brand.

What is the goal for Jollie in a year or 5 years? Do you see more kids doing yoga?

Elizabeth: I would love to see us start a foundation that sits next to Jollie. With a foundation, we can reach more people and really expand to promote and support yoga therapy. Is it too much to say a Jollie mat in every household!?

Hilary: I would love to see our hospital partnerships grow and expand. Elizabeth and I constantly discuss the idea of “Jollie carts” circulating pediatric cancer units and the ability to bring mindful crafts and inspiration directly to children’s hospital rooms. I have to agree with Elizabeth—I also love the idea of Jollie becoming recognized in households across the U.S.

This is a wonderful program, have you approached the local ISD’s about incorporating yoga into their curriculum? I think it would do wonders for our local kids!

Elizabeth: Yes, last summer during COVID we reached out to HISD about incorporating yoga into the school day. I believe with the ups and downs of programming and curriculum being virtual, we were not able to get things going. We would love to teach more in schools and offer more after-school programs. We also have a vision of integrating the Kid Kits into classrooms and educating teachers on how to incorporate yoga moments into the school day.

As a lover of yoga, I personally know the benefits abound once you start to practice. What do you think is the biggest misconception about yoga?

Elizabeth: The biggest misconception is that it’s a Buddhist religious practice; that it goes against religion or that practicing with large groups is like being in a cult. Yes, yoga originated from different Buddhist practices and the origins of meditation are different. That doesn’t mean they are just used to promote or worship that way.

THE PLUSH MAT
Great for all sweat sessions, including yoga. Soft texture increases its grip when moistened so you and your mat get stronger at the same time. Available in assorted design patterns. $92 • bejollie.com

What would you like our readers to know about Jollie?

Elizabeth: There is overwhelming research showing the improvement in quality of life when practicing yoga. Yoga therapy is a form of complementary medicine and is very successful. Some studies have shown improvement in GI function for pediatric cancer patients as well as a whole host of other issues. When we selected this as our giveback program, we spent a lot of time researching the effects. With every purchase, we are intentionally giving back and supporting the community.

Hilary: When Elizabeth and I created our giveback program, we came from a place of both passion and research. I am a former Master’s prepared RN and know firsthand the impact that yoga therapy can have on a patient’s quality of life. Once we saw the research that supported yoga therapy in the pediatric cancer community, we knew exactly how we wanted to give back.

Interested in finding out more, visit www.BeJollie.com.

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