When Covid hit in 2020 and people were locked inside their homes, many Australians were getting creative, coming up with new ideas and having the time to implement them. For organisational psychologist, Candice Lester, launching Wild Mingo was all about brightening up your fitness world one paint splatter at a time.
Tired of the same blue yoga mat, Lester wanted to bring fun to her yoga and pilates classes."Wild Mingo is all about bringing colour, individuality and joy to your workout whether it is yoga, Pilates or personal training," she explains. Lester had been looking at her own yoga and pilates props and realising they didn't exactly spark joy or entice her to pick them up and head to class, she wanted to find a way to create something that was more functional and didn't leave a trail of foam everywhere, but that also motivated her to step onto a mat and move.
"The idea bubbled away from a much bigger landfill challenge and one that I hope I can pioneer in solving in years to come," she adds. "But there was a clear gap
in the market, an opportunity to create a product to solve a challenge that many others were facing. A workout mat that didn't slip and slide either as you used it on carpet, was great for floorboards in studios too and something that was easy to clean and didn't leave a trail of electric blue foam every time you rolled it out.
An opportunity to build a brand that was wildly different and good for both you and the planet. "The push for this came at a time of grief-I had recently lost my mum unexpectedly and I had a lot of boundless energy to navigate-I chose to channel it into creativity and Wild Mingo was born."
Growing up Lester always had a bit of a business streak and many years ago started a jewellery company with her sister-it was a bit of a passion project and not scalable but something they built a wholesale base on. psychologist I spend a lot of time thinking about what motivates people both at work and at home.
I had spent a number of years working in the wellbeing space and have personally always had a love for colour, so it seemed like a natural progression to combine these into a new brand and scale that within Australia and globally. "Our target market is people looking to get motivated to move their bodies. Some of them are hardcore pilates and yoga practitioners and our mats stand up to their quality test, but others have been thinking about taking a class or are just needing a little motivation to stretch-we are passionate about promoting health, not size, at Wild Mingo." After researching the best mats, Lester then teamed with long- time friend Ashleigh Ben Danan, a local Melbourne artist, to bring colour and fun to her pieces. "The range not only looks good but is functional. I wanted a way to create joy for people and to showcase incredible art and artists, so the chance
to work with Ashleigh was too good to pass up.
"I have another collaboration coming up in mid-2023. We are in sample testing at the moment but it's with the most incredibly talented first nations artist and
I am keen to provide more opportunities for artists who use canvas based work to be spotlighted and profiled as Wild Mingo continues to grow." Lester is all about colour and fun, from her hot pink reading glasses to her regular rainbow nails, so the brand name had to be something that captured all of its personality.
"Flamingos are known for their beauty, balance, potential and romance-four things we are passionate about bringing into our Wild Mingo products. Beauty is all about incredible designs by talented artists; potential stands for opportunity for each of our community to brighten their workout and get 'wild', while balance shows beautiful props built with care and all the good stuff (no icky materials). Romance is about the design so that you fall in love with them just as much as we have. "We are super passionate about creating a community and a space for people to unlock their wild side, spark joy and add a bit of colour to their everyday.
Our range of washable workout mats, art yoga blocks and resistance bands are eco-friendly and bright and a whole lot different to those grey, brown or blue pilates mats you've used over the years. "It's our purpose to brighten the fitness industry one paint splatter at a time," she enthuses.
Wild Mingo products have to be long lasting and at the right quality, not just beautiful looking-Lester spends time pre-production trialling the range with instructors, physiotherapists and personal trainers to make sure the products are fit for purpose. "We use recycled materials in everything we make and are keen to see this increase over time. I am also passionate about pushing boundaries-our mats are machine washable so they can be cleaned, keeping them better for you.
"I also really wanted a way in this business to spotlight incredible female talent wherever I was able to. A dear friend of mine is an incredibly talent artist. I have several of her pieces and their colour and design is wonderful at starting conversation and eliciting emotion-two things I am passionate about for our Wild Mingo community. As we grow we plan to continue to feature talented artists wherever we can-they are so significantly under-represented so any opportunity Wild Mingo can provide to showcase them is important."
All Wild Mingo mats and products are carefully sourced using recycled materials. "We are passionate about creating products that are good for you and good for the planet. "Sustainability is key to us as a brand as it's where our bigger ambition lies-we want to solve some of our biggest landfill problems, not just in Australia but globally, and we think a way to do that is to keep adding recycled materials into our products and to invest in research to look at ways to break down stockpiled material and repurpose it."
Since launching, Wild Mingo has attracted a big Australian and New Zealand following and has been sold in gifting and lifestyle retailers, health and wellness spaces and online through a growing base of stockists, and more products and artist collaborations are in the pipeline.
"Wild Mingo has literally gone wild," she enthuses. "I always knew that people were looking for more colour in their daily workouts and the reaction to the Wild Mingo range has been amazing. We have just launched new resistance bands and yoga blocks in the same wild colour palette and can't wait to see more people enjoying these additions. "Our products are unique but also thoughtful we have designed them to solve the gap in the market around props, to add individuality and colour into something that people use weekly and, in some cases, daily. "Our customers and stockists tell us that they love the quality, the designs make them smile and we have been so fortunate to see our retail and wholesale customers return time and time again to add to their collection or purchase gifts for friends and family."
While in the future Wild Mingo might move into other product categories, for now she will be focusing on brightening the fitness world and with the importance of getting moving for all of us after the last few years, the range will continue to expand. "In time we have a number of other product categories in the works, but you'll have to stay tuned and connected to our journey."