Olivia F. Scott is a seasoned marketing professional and professor, but her calling is evident through her social-entrepreneurial venture called Freedom At The Mat, based in New Orleans.

Freedom At The Mat is not a typical virtual yoga program, it’s a movement and empowerment program where Olivia can teach mindfulness with exercise in “a safe, sacred space for women - using meditation, accessible movement and affirmation.” She proudly offers 15% of all yoga mat sales to nonprofits that support the health and wellness of underserved women, and she provides classes for free or reduced cost to anyone who would benefit.

“Freedom At The Mat is dedicated to my sister, who struggled with substance use and mental health, and to women everywhere who are not free from society’s judgments, their past or their own fears,” Olivia explains. “Within a space the size of a yoga mat, I provide an opportunity for women to be supported in a non-judgmental way with a dose of physical and mental exercise.”

When Olivia first had the idea for her business, she had no idea how to create a “social goods” company to sell yoga mats. She went to SCORE.org and requested a mentor with expertise in manufacturing and the supply chain. She was thrilled to get a call from an expert soon after. Her mentor taught her how to negotiate the terms of a contract, why to start with small production goals and how to talk with suppliers in China.

What do you do? 

Freedom At The Mat is an online and offline wellness platform offering free meditation, yoga, and mindfulness content, all under 30 minutes, to make wellness accessible to women who need it, globally. Our mission is to serve women with content they may not know where or how to find and to give it to them at no cost. 

What inspired you to start your business? 

Freedom At The Mat is not a typical virtual yoga program, it’s a movement and empowerment program where Olivia can teach mindfulness with exercise in “a safe, sacred space for women - using meditation, accessible movement and affirmation

What's special about your business? 

We are mission-centered, dedicated to women's wellness, and donate 15% of our class & product profits to non-profit organizations that serve underserved women. We acknowledge that we will connect with some women, but that some women may not have the resources or mental capacity to seek wellness resources, so wish to partner with organizations that serve them in various communities in the U.S. presently. Our yoga is infused with jazz & inspirational music to appeal to a broader and non-traditional audience. We are dedicated to serving all women spanning ages, dress size, ethnicity, and urban vs rural areas.

What have you learned from your experiences as a business owner? 

To start small. That you can negotiate your terms, and should establish relationships with multiple suppliers. That you really should begin your business with the minimal viable product, set the marketing wheels in motion, and see if you can build a demand before a large initial order quantity.

What is your relationship with SCORE? 
SCORE client
What influenced you to seek help from SCORE? 

I am a creative entrepreneur. I am a trained journalist and marketer, I knew NOTHING about product manufacturing, and was very nervous about COGS and calculating profits, identifying suppliers, and setting up a product-based business.

How SCORE helped. 

Dean counseled me on how to negotiate with my suppliers, including terms and conditions and pricing. He was very critical in helping me set realistic goals and expectations to launch smartly with my limited resources. Dean's counsel on the initial order quantity was invaluable and saved me thousands of dollars. He also pushed me to create a business plan and helped me stay on top of creating and executing my own marketing plan.

What's great about my mentor? 

Dean made himself available to me freely and was very accessible, encouraging, and supportive. He has a wealth of knowledge about product-based businesses which he was happy to share with me in plain terms easily understandable to me.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

Take your time to find a market that is not being served, or being underserved, and offer them something that is ownable and authentic to your brand. Launch with minimal quantities, establish relationships with multiple vendors, and take your time with your launch. You're not in competition with anyone else but you. And lastly, don't compete on price. Price is a slippery slope that you don't want to race to the bottom with competitors not knowing their negotiations or resources. Instead, build your brand, and create a valuable product proposition that won't force you to discount your value with price wars.

Deborah Bond interview with Free to Be on Youtube
Screenshot of items included in Freedom Kit Collection from Freedom at the Mat
Freedom at the Mat

My Mentors