Henry Mah: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Young professionals in Calgary love to get a good sweat on and it’s always nice to be able to do this in style. That’s where Henry Mah comes in. Baktuli is Mah’s company, which provides customers with high-end Turkish cotton towels that keep you looking fresh post-workout. Taking inspiration from Sanskrit, the word ‘Baktuli’ translates as “your loving and devotional practice.” So whether you’re hitting the mat, spin class or the gym, Mah’s towels will enhance your workout with inspiring messages and vibrant colours.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I own a designer towel line for athletics using premium Turkish cotton. The product is anti-microbial using a biodegradable formula. The entire towel is 100% biodegradable. Positive words are woven in the towels to inspire you when you are in a place of bettering yourself. I make two product lines: one for hot yoga, the other for the gym, cardio and working out. There is nothing better in a sweaty public gym than your own personal clean and soft towel, especially one that is shaped for your workout and encourages you along the way. The product is super fun and practical!

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I was living in Vancouver at the time and doing a lot of hot yoga classes. Specifically, I was doing the 30-day challenges. I would use cotton home or beach towels, which weren’t quite right because they never fit properly. I switched to the studio’s microfiber rental towels but they smelled slightly of lingering body odour or bleach (not very nice when doing downward dog). I thought there had to be a better solution. 

So the line really is a culmination of these objectives: a clean towel that looks great and doesn’t hold odour, with beautiful colour and styling, helping stop the spread of germs, using positive words (inspired by my background in music and popular culture) and using cotton that is soft and comfy. 

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is working with companies and individuals who are in the health, wellness and fashion industry. The yoga industry tends to have fairly mindful people that circulate ideas about the world that resonate well. Running your own company allows you the flexibility to work your ideas and inspirations in any way you want. The most challenging part is working on the things about business that aren’t your strong points, but it does create for a well-rounded perspective. 

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Well I don’t take as many vacations as I used to and every trip I do take now is always a mix of work and play. It’s difficult to go anywhere hot and/or tropical without thinking of doing a photo shoot or looking for potential clients. It’s challenging to relax when there are great opportunities everywhere. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see the business growing worldwide and I see myself with more free time than I have now. I can imagine as always that I would be involved in many different artistic ventures. 

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One of the hardest things I’ve discovered about making the Baktuli product line is manufacturing. When you create a product that is newly shaped using old world processes, it’s often hard to communicate that to the factories to get it perfectly right, and of course you have standards you think are acceptable for production. Being so far away doesn’t allow for quick quality checks. Also, communication in foreign language countries isn’t always so easy. And I don’t mean just the language barriers; I’m talking about expectations, biases, policy and procedures. 

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success is to have friends and family who reciprocally love and support you. It’s also the freedom to do what you want to do on a day-to-day basis. Money can help with happiness but it doesn’t translate into happiness. Happiness is within, whether you have money or not. That’s why it’s important to be mindful and stay positive.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
For my business, thousands of people have used my product so I’m going to assume that I’ve inspired that many people to help think in a more positive way. Encouraging them to hit the gym or yoga studio with a smile on their face week after week is a great satisfaction. 

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Do what you love. And if you don’t know what that is, sit in a quiet room every morning and meditate for half an hour and eventually it will come to you. Work hard and be open for opportunity.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I’ve enjoyed the food at Fleur de Sel and Candela in Calgary but I know there are a lot of great restaurants here. Can’t wait to try them all!

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Getting into nature, socializing with friends and catching good bands or DJs. Reading mostly non-fiction, inspirational books. Listening to well-produced music. Yoga and working out. Shooting pictures. 

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Although I’m born in Canada, I always feel a sense of wonderment in Europe and Asia. I think it’s nice to observe how much older cultures have been operating and the customs they hold. As far as North American cities, I really love the style in New York, the casualness of LA and the beauty of Vancouver. 

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
You shouldn’t ask a music person to pick one song. Emotions and feelings change many times a day; a person is not one-dimensional and that’s a great thing! A catchy song right now is a house track called ‘Tonight’ by Here Is Why. Here’s a DJ mix it’s on.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Hopefully singing in a band, working as a DJ and pursuing my music career full-time; shooting large format photos and travelling the world finding another way to get inspired and hopefully inspiring others in the process. Maybe teaching yin-yoga?

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Baktuli is working with the organization 1% for the Planet, a great organization that makes it simple for businesses to do the right thing. 

What to you is notable?
As a definition: Something that catches the heart and mind.

As a publication in Canada: Notable inspires the future influencers of our country and is well designed and well articulated. 

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other? 
iPhone. I really do love it because it works in the way that I want it to. At the same time I’m not dismissing the other companies either, I find it all so fascinating that technology has come this far. 


#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

Want more updates on the most Notable things happening so you know before your colleagues do? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Twitter for all the latest.