How This Entrepreneur Made A Sports Bra & Leggings Her Work Uniform

Even without meeting her in real life, you can tell that Lauren Ash is someone for whom style is both utilitarian (she's an entrepreneur who teaches yoga, amongst other enterprises) and meaningful (she actively supports female designers of color; more on that later). Clothes work for her — except for a brief moment during our interview, when the photo studio’s resident cat keeps batting at the lining of her blazer.
But Ash, executive director and founder of Black Girl In Om, a lifestyle brand and global community centered in holistic well-being for Black women, simply laughs off the interruption, which might further unsettle most other people in this already-nerve-wracking situation. The calm and collected 30-year-old Chicagoan has built a business out of teaching women how to meditate on and manifest the lives they want — a business that sees her traveling frequently, hosting a podcast and in-person experiences, and, above all, creating the safe and sisterly space she'd always looked for. Below, our conversation with Ash on transitioning from a 9-to-5 to being her own boss, how she incorporates self care and empowerment into the way she dresses, and how she styles an adidas Statement Collection sports bra and leggings to work everywhere she does.
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What inspired you to start Black Girl In Om?
"Four years ago, I completed my yoga-teaching certification. I’d been practicing yoga for a few years, and when I found myself unfulfilled and unsatisfied with my day job, I said, 'What can I do that brings me purpose?' The week I started yoga-teacher training, all these ideas started coming to me about creating a space for Black women centered on wellness. So I started to realize how I could blend my passions together and started manifesting BGIO. Two months after getting my certification, I started BGIO sessions in the living room of my then-mentor, someone who heard my idea and said, 'Great, I have this space for you. You don’t have to start in a year, you can start in two weeks. Just start. The rest will snowball.'"
How did your experience working a 9-to-5 job shape your leadership style once you became your own boss?
"When I was starting BGIO, I was working at a nonprofit. It had an amazing mission behind it, and yet, we know that just because something has a great mission, that doesn’t necessarily say anything about the culture, the team, or the organization. It was a challenge being this young Black woman recently out of grad school, really eager to change the world, yet feeling so stifled in an environment where I couldn’t really be my full self. There were a lot of microaggressions I had to learn how to navigate. But it was a good experience for me, because it allowed me to realize what I wanted when I cultivated my own team. I have a lot of gratitude for every season I’ve gone through, because it has empowered me to be a better leader who thinks more mindfully about the team culture I create through BGIO."
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BGIO just celebrated its fourth anniversary. Has your goal to provide a space for Black women changed much in the past four years?
"With the political climate now feeling more intense, it has been a wakeup call for how much self care and healing matter. Because if you’re not able to bring your full, authentic self to the workplace, if you have to pretend that everything is okay, compartmentalizing is what a lot of Black women have to do a lot of the time. So for me, all of the shifting that’s happening politically has allowed more of us to recognize how important self care is — how necessary it is to find room to breathe easy, ways we can heal, and ways we can prioritize our needs and emotions and dive into that vulnerably. So the work I do and the reason for it have only become more clear."
You’re clearly involved in a lot of different projects and wear a lot of different hats. How do you dress to reflect all the different aspects of your life?
"It’s so funny. Every year, I think that I’ve found my personal style. But looking back, I realize it’s changed every year. I think that actually signals me at my core: I’m truly always evolving, and I’m very intentional about unfolding and transitioning and just leaning into that, rather than fearing it. Two years ago, I was all about sports-luxe. I was wearing sneakers more and finding athleisure looks. Last year, I was like, It’s all going to be minimal. Just neutrals, maybe with a pop of color or a fun accessory. And now that I have these fun braids (thanks, Mo G), I’m like, Oh, this has changed my entire wardrobe. I'm feeling a little bit more punk, alternative, edgy. So who knows what it’ll be next year?"
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Talk us through how you styled the adidas Statement Collection sports bras and leggings today.
"The look with the black bra and mesh top is definitely one to wear on the way to yoga or to work out. And then, luckily, it’s a whole vibe to go out to eat or have a drink with and not feel like, Oh, I'm in my workout clothes. It's more of a playful, creative look, and I like that there's a cohesion to all the colors. For the blazer look, plum is one of my favorite colors. I love deeper, gemstone colors. This is a look you could wear on the weekend catching up with friends while still feeling hella comfortable. I change up my hair a lot, and this is the first time I've done color, so that's completely changed how I look in all the clothes I wear."
You're an advocate for body positivity and women recognizing their own beauty. Tell us how this plays a part in the way you dress.
"I’ve gotten so much out of being curious and experimenting with my style. I used to always be afraid or hesitant to show off some cleavage, show off my belly. In the past two years, I’ve had so much fun by breaking my own rules and deciding to try something new. And as my own confidence increases — and my own happiness and joy and excitement, too — so does other people's. I have girlfriends who say, 'Girl, I never thought you’d wear that.' And I’m like, 'Me neither.' Why did I ever put those limitations on myself? So I definitely empower and encourage other women to really step out of their comfort zones when it comes to style and be willing to try something a little different."
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Does self care factor into what you choose to wear?
"When I think about self care through style, I immediately think of confidence and how important it is to feel good in your body. For me, that means a lot of high waists. I like to feel like I'm getting a hug. When I wear a high-waisted legging or pant or skirt, I feel supported in a way that I like. [Self care] also impacts the shoes I wear — that’s why I’ve become more of a sneaker head. We live in a time when sneakers are acceptable with any kind of look you’re putting together, and it’s the most comfortable and supportive. I love natural fabrics, cotton is great. But anything that is stretchy and moves with my body allows me to feel good with what I’m wearing."
It’s clear that you surround yourself with women who support and uplift you, and vice versa. How does this influence your style?
"I have been intentional about supporting, through my money, designers of color and women designers and sometimes both. I've really been curious about actively supporting more as time goes on because, thanks to the internet, we have access to alternative options. Understanding that I can actively support amazing artists out here who don’t have access to as many resources but are still creating is phenomenal."

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