Despite completely changing his lifestyle starting with a yoga practice at the age of 48, business man and entrepreneur, Dennis Ingui, didn’t suffer a mid-life crisis. His turnaround mid- stream through life was brought about after a stunning diagnosis of prostate cancer and surgery. What began as a journey of recovery and self-discovery has grown into a new business venture, mentorship for other budding entrepreneurs and a path toward philanthropy, touching the lives of children and adults across the globe.
Born and raised in the Bronx, Ingui was always athletic, having grown up playing stick ball and other street games. Always physically fit, Ingui was thrown completely off guard after a cautionary check up with his urologist showed a slightly rising PSA test. Ingui received a call from the doctor on his way to the airport heading on a business trip. He immediately turned the car around and he and his wife went straight to the doctor. Within a few weeks, Ingui was scheduled for surgery.
Post recovery, while lying in bed recuperating from surgery, Ingui had an epiphany. He was watching television when 9/11 happened. Helpless in more than one sense of the word, Ingui’s world was shaken. He decided he had to start reading about practices of peace and of positivity.
Once again on his feet, Ingui began taking daily walks with his wife and business partner, Valerie. Shortly thereafter, Ingui heard about a local yoga class. “Up until then, yoga was the last thing I thought about,” says the father of two sons. Knowing that he had to rebuild both his mind and his body, Ingui began his journey on a mat in a church basement in New Jersey. The only man in the class, Ingui met a group of women who instantly made him feel comfortable and have since become some of his closest friends. What he learned from them was acceptance. What he learned about himself was that he had much more to give.
Prior to his diagnosis, Ingui had worked in textiles, creating unique brands of denim for various clothing labels. His natural business acumen had always steered him right and allowed him to provide a comfortable life for his family. Ingui had closed his business after his surgery, but he needed something else to keep him busy and focused beyond his yoga practice. How could he use his talents as a businessman and incorporate them into something that was meaningful, that would allow him to give to others and included yoga? Ingui realized he needed a product.
His experience taught him that a he needed to create a great product that fit a niche along with great packaging and excellent distribution. His yoga mat had become an important element in his life and he realized others felt the same. He designed an affordable, eco-safe, biodegradable yoga mat with a focal icon to help yogis focus while incorporating colors that would reflect their personalities. Not wanting to take on a brick and mortar storefront, Ingui decided to learn more about selling online. With a “Dummies Guide to Amazon” and guidance from a special young family friend, Ingui learned everything he could about selling products through Amazon. A business was born.
The name Aurorae has deep meaning for Ingui and his family. His son Michael came up with the name Aurora from Aurora Borealis. “We were discussing the incredible colors and the energy these various skies create. Each color in the universe has a meaning and generates a certain emotion with in us,” he adds.
Previously, Ingui had already named each of the first five colors of the Classic Yoga Mat (1st product) and developed a marketing plan around those colors and the meaning of each, to help yogis select a color that best suits them.
“I didn't want to simply name the company after Aurora and so I looked up the plural of Aurora and it was Aurorae. It made sense and fit in with my marketing goals.”
What finally convinced Ingui that this was the name for the company was a connection to yet another family member. “As I stared at the name AURORAE, I realized the last three letters was my late mother’s name RAE and that's all I could see for that moment. I knew then this was the name, as my mom was always my best friend and lucky charm. Call it what you want, but for me it brought a warm feeling and was a sign from mom. That was the birth of the Aurorae Brand,” says Ingui.
Family and community mean everything to Ingui. His sons, a few close friends and other family members are contributing to the Aurorae brand as well. Some are recipients of Ingui’s mentorship and are responsible for selling different Aurorae products through licensing. Others work on the marketing efforts using their own unique creative talents. Ingui is completely committed to helping others become successful and reaches out to those who share his passion for business.
Although he has brought others into the fold, Ingui is 100 percent responsible for communicating with customers. He insists on personally answering every email and inquiry Aurorae gets. Though he does have a marketing department, he reads all social media posts and makes it a point to stay connected to his clients and fellow yogis.
“It’s all about people,” he says. For Ingui, Aurorae is not just business. It’s personal. He makes a point of communicating with people who have questions about yoga, or who are unhappy with their product. Ingui’s end goal is to make others happy and he does whatever it takes to ensure it happens. His commitment to his customers is that Aurorae guarantees 100% satisfaction and if they have any issues to contact him directly. Much of the feedback on the Aurorae website sings the praises of the company’s customer service. It is a source of pride for him and his family.
In addition to giving the best customer service possible, Aurorae gives back to many communities in need by giving away free mats and Aurorae products. Partnering with many organizations such as Kula for Karma, Aurorae sends mats and yoga products to inner city communities, cancer patients, abused woman and children, prisons, disaster relief communities, veterans and many others to bring the healing practice of yoga to those in need. Though not an instructor himself, Ingui and his wife have connected with many wonderful teachers through various communities who share the joys of yoga with others. Children are a special passion for Ingui andAurorae sent boxes of yoga mats to a village in Guatemala who used the mats to sleep on. He is especially proud of a program he has supported with 500 yoga mats, that was developed by Kula for Karma for an inner city school system in Paterson, N.J. This program continues today to refocus their energies in a positive way though yoga. Ingui is grateful they are being used in the best way that suits that community and knows that Aurorae is helping others in the truest sense possible. Going forward, he is exploring partnerships with many other national/ international charities to spread yoga to many needy communities.
“When will I retire? How about when I’m finished?” he says with a laugh.
What began as a personal journey of healing has turned into something much more than Ingui ever imagined. His original intention was to find a hobby that kept him busy, use his business skills to the best of their ability and to give back to others. He has grown his concept into a successful business, bringing other young entrepreneurs, friends and family into the fold by teaching them valuable skills and helping them create their own successes. Ingui has found more peace and joy in helping others through Aurorae and he sees no reason to stop.