In February of 2020, I made my first trip to India, just before Covid hit the US. It was amazing, completely mind-expanding, fascinating, heart-wrenching, uplifting, magical and serendipitous. I was invited to a conference in Varanasi with a group of American designers, as a guest of the Indian Design Institute. After making my audio visual presentation (on the largest stage I'd ever stood upon), I stepped down to chat with people in the audience.
In the back of my mind I held a wish...that I would find the next stepping stone in my path to bring a long-held dream to life--the launch of a new brand that I'd conceived years ago--one that would capture everything we all love about escaping to the seaside, and joining with friends for an alfresco gathering--a label to be aptly named "Beach to
Bistro". The name said it all...my whole story. I'd fled to the shores of Tulum, Mexico after my business closed in 2008 when I needed time to heal. I was desperate to reconnect with my most authentic self--the artist, the yogi, the hopeful, optimistic, life-loving self that had been drowning in the rough seas of corporate ownership. The ocean has always been my go-to place for replenishment and I wanted it to be part of my future.
I stepped down off the stage, a bit giddy from speaking to such a huge crowd and was immediately surrounded by people, asking questions, offering their services, congratulating me...it was a bit overwhelming. But, for whatever divine reason, one person stood out. Her name is Mandira and her smile was heartwarming. Quietly we chatted; she expressed a desire to create Beach to Bistro with me...she said she was over huge companies and just wanted to collaborate with someone who had soul. She took the words right out of my mouth. Mandira owns a small factory in Delhi where she creates beautiful fabrics and small collections for a handful of American brands. She understands my love of textiles my need for spiritual balance and the deeper implications of doing business globally. We both value artisan craftsmanship and appreciate the skill and talent required to make the items I've designed.
It has been a pretty crazy year to start a business. Through all the unexpected 2020 obstacles--global pandemic, cyclones, fires, floods, locusts (yup!), riots (in both countries)--Mandira and I have managed to remain positive and stay focused on what's ahead. She too is a big proponent of "good vibes only".
Artisan craft is not a lost art in India. Beach to Bistro has incorporated beautiful embroidered blouses, hand-made tassels by the hundreds, and original designs, using the time honored technique of wooden block printing. Every print in our collection has been designed by me in my studio and then carved by Indian artisans to create our beautiful print textiles.
Our clothing is made in small batches, with great attention to detail. Both Mandira and I find joy in all the lovely aspects of this process. Best of all, I have nothing but my internal calendar to determine what to design and when. The initial collection is available online at www.beachtobistro.com and there will be more to come for Resort/Spring 2021-22. The line will continue to evolve and grow organically, as we produce new styles and prints that inspire us. Our goal is to fill the world with more beauty.
We pray that the devastating effects of Covid in India will be alleviated over the next few months. They are in desperate need of our help. If you would like to contribute, I have a wonderful, trustworthy organization that supports women and girls in India--Yoga Gives Back. I donate my online yoga class fees to them. Now they are stepping up to help with the Covid Crisis.