Why Schools are like Yoga Pants
Wired magazine celebrated the 20th anniversary of Lululemon with with an article on how the company keeps on innovating. Looking back, Wired editor Liz Segran notes:
Twenty years ago, Lululemon hit the market with soft, ultra-comfy yoga pants that women wanted to wear literally everywhere--to brunch, to fancy dinners, to the office. It helped spur the athleisure trend, the notion of wearing activewear out of the gym and into everyday life. But it also laid the foundation for hundreds of other activewear startups to create leggings and tank tops, competing directly for Lululemon's customer.
The independent school sector in K-12 has grown significantly in the last 50 years, providing nurturing and character-based education to the whole child during a period in which public school options became more rigid and under resourced. The independent school brand prospered, but has also drawn rapidly expanding competition from charters and magnet schools on the public side, to micro and chain schools in the for profit sector.
Yes, we like to think what we do in schools is on a different level than providing comfy yoga pants, but even our nonprofit social enterprises must respond to market dynamics. Segran reports that "Despite this overcrowded marketplace, Lululemon is now a $3 billion company with a network of more than 400 stores around the world. And it plans to stay ahead of these upstart competitors by continuing to innovate." Keeping one eye on the approaching competition, independent schools need to constantly be innovating to stay one or two steps ahead of the imitators.
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