Wise Words from Edina Entrepreneur Lori Anne Yang

Local entrepreneur encourages people to be happy beyond reason.
Lori Anne Yang shares encouragment with her newest product, handmade meditation pillows.

In a late 2011 blog post titled “Launching a Leap of Faith,” Lori Anne Yang announced the birth of her retail website mammastemama.com, citing “its core message of loving the world with a mother’s heart.” As she puts it, Mammaste had moved from thought, to word, and finally to reality.

It’s a funny story how Yang came to call her online business Mammaste. “My daughter customized a pair of Converse shoes for me for Mother’s Day in 2007 and misspelled ‘Namaste’ as ‘mammaste’ on the heel strip,” says Yang. What’s not quite as funny is the story of the dark place Yang found herself years before, at age 35. She was overwhelmed by a divorce and a difficult custody battle; she actually considered ending her life. But a dream of unconditional love and the power of that love to help her understand her life in a new light prevailed.

In the dream, Yang says, she was burdened by a heavy pack on her back and was trudging up stairs in a clearly restricted path to a destination “that felt necessary and inevitable.” A woman approached her and asked what she was carrying, and why it was so heavy. Yang laid down the pack and took out a number of fragile glass items, many of which were broken. She explained to the woman, with an odd kind of pride, that she was carrying them for her mother, her husband, her kids. The woman looked at her with what Yang can only describe as absolute love. “What in there is really worth carrying?” the woman asked. That’s when Yang saw everything from a different perspective. “I stood up straight, looked around and saw all sorts of new paths leading all sorts of new ways.” In retrospect, she adds, “If we could only see, in our darkest moments, what is possible.”

Years passed. In 2007, the name “Mammaste” arrived via her daughter. And in 2010, Yang began her blog titled Mammaste~Divinity in the Everyday, which she describes as “stories of the gifts of divine moments tucked into our everyday lives.” Calling herself a woman well-versed in social anxiety as well as a “closet” poet and writer, Yang found her blog to be a safe place to face her fears and grow. “As I started putting more of myself into my blog posts, people began to respond,” she says. Entries range from the lighthearted to more somber. Every post closes in the same way: “Mammaste. Divinity in the everyday” and eventually inspired her local business.

Yang’s product line includes calendars, coffee mugs, hats and baby clothes. But it is not the items themselves as much as the messages on them that define her inventory. She wanted inspirational messages to be present for people on practical items they use every day, she says. She has chosen words of the poet Rumi, of Buddha, of Jesus, and of a medieval Jewish rabbi named Rashi in phrases that include, “Love the whole world as a mother loves her child” and “Exhale only love.” You can also find products that say, “Be unreasonably happy” as well as “Be unreasonably grateful” and “Be unreasonably optimistic.” What she means, however, is that if you’re basing happiness, gratitude or optimism on reason, it’s just not likely to work. “You have to go past reason. You have to see these things through the eye of a loving heart.”

She sells her items primarily online but has also participated in annual Morningside Market, and may add an additional craft show or two this summer. Follow her on Facebook at Mammaste Gift Shop for updates. And of course you can always purchase items online at mammastemama.com. The products are loving reminders of divinity through practical everyday vessels, “just like you and me,” says Yang. With a poet’s knack for words, Yang sees us all as vessels. Vessels of divinity, vessels of dreams, vessels of infinite love.

For more inspiring products and gift ideas visit the mammaste website here.