SUTRA means thread
the thread of connection - our common thread
Sutra has its origins in a single watershed moment in time. I had lost my life partner to ovarian cancer and started feeling uncomfortably “tethered” to my work of 20 years.
It may sound trite, but in a workshop entitled “Discover Your Life Purpose,” I did just that! I deeply desired meaningful work that brought together art, travel and social consciousness. I thought back to my undergraduate degree in textile designs and the utter ease I felt in the streets of India as a yoga student. I also knew India to be the place where beautiful textiles have been created for generations.
I was introduced to an elderly woman who had been doing the work of directly sourcing from artists in India, Bali and Thailand for countless years. I accompanied her to Indonesia in 2009 and, by the end of that tour, I said “yes.” You know that song about selling the sofa, and packing up your life, and striding forward into the great unknown? Well, I did just that, after cashing in my entire life insurance policy. I had “eaten the mango,” as they say India!
Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I began SUTRA because I saw nothing like it in our area. Nowhere could I find an inspiring array of textiles, workshops or travel opportunities without driving 3 hours. Throughout my life, I have travelled to California, the Pacific Northwest, the Twin Cities and NYC, for culture, for inspiration, to study the healing arts, and to grow as a progressive person. I wanted to create a place to experience all of this locally!
The evolution of SUTRA has been a slow journey, at times. Not wanting to go deeply in debt, I began with “on the job” training, or at least, this is how I describe it now! I dove head-first and was employed at a struggling business, where I learned more than words can describe. Not all of it was pretty….
I then launched SUTRA and took my new business on the road, using the “direct sales” model of “friends-helping-friends.” It was kind of a tupperware party for the progressive set. :-)
When I grew weary of hauling a van-load of statues, stone carvings, quilts, and prayer flags all over the Midwest, a miracle happened. On a drive down the Mississippi River, I pulled off I-90 to stop for a bathroom break, and saw a sign “House for Sale”. Intrigued, I said, “Let’s check it out,” even though I wasn’t looking to buy.
My friend and I turned onto the Main Street of a 2-street town, and saw this magnificent century barn, with the original grey tin, renovated with pristinely trimmed white windows, the cupola staged in a sweet garden. That day in early August, I looked up and fell in love. I had just a few years experience in retail and I had no business plan, but I asked myself, “Just how hard could it be?” A question I’ve used on many occasions before.
There have been missteps and successes, but mainly a wide array of sisters who came forth to lend a hand just when I needed it most! A retired interior designer, an old friend with painting and “infrastructure” skills, a couple of millennials determined to haul me into the 21st century, and a whole host of others who guided me, advised me, purchased from me, and now, are teaching me new skills!