Local woman creates colorful yoga mats

Aug. 2—AMESBURY — A local business owner is offering people and their furry friends a new way to relax by designing, printing and shipping her customizable, antibacterial pet and yoga mats in the Merrimack Valley.

Linda Simpson is the founder and owner of Smart Mats Studio, which is a division of her Imagination Network development company that she founded in 2009.

Simpson said her newest venture is, in many ways, a product of its time.

"You had COVID and you had these tariffs and these extortionary shipping fees out of China and all of the delays that go with it. I began to see the writing on the wall," Simpson said. "I knew that I had to really reinvent my business."

The Brookline native said she ran into a curly coil material made with polypropylene while on a trip to China a few years ago that she thought would be an excellent substrate for making door and pet mats.

"It traps and it hides sand, moisture and dirt," Simpson said. "It is very durable and so easy to wash. Instead of buying the typical coco mats that are out there that shed and go green and usually last for up to maybe three or four months, I thought that this would be an unbelievable opportunity."

Simpson said the pet industry and the health and wellness industry have both been doing very well over the past year, so she also developed a customizable, antibacterial PVC yoga mat.

"Someone can go on to our website and upload a picture of their pet," Simpson said. "They can upload their kid's drawing or artwork. They can also use one of our different styles that can be monogrammed or they can put their name into it."

Simpson said she spent many years working in product development for large corporations in New York City but would eventually make the move to Amesbury about 22 years ago. She also maintains a studio in the Upper Millyard.

"I have been in the corporate world, I have worked for the big guys like Bloomingdale's doing product development in Manhattan but I am really more of a creative thinker," Simpson said. "But I have launched loads of multimillion-dollar brands for those companies."

Smart Mats Studio started printing in the past week with a pair of industrial-sized printers thanks to a partnership with Kingdom Prints in Lawrence.

"We get the white goods from China but everything else is done here," Simpson said. "We fulfill, we print, we do artwork and what have you here in America, in Amesbury and Lawrence."

The new mats have also been a hit with business owners, according to Simpson.

"Real estate agents love this as a leave-behind gift," Simpson said. "It lasts and it keeps people remembering them."

Smart Mats Studio website: www.smartmatsstudio.com.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.