Thursday, April 16, 2015

Local Love: Karma Mala

I founded Karma Mala in January of 2014. After completing yoga teacher training, I wanted to wear a mala to enhance the spiritual connection I found in my practice. While wearing a simple mala that I bought, I soon discovered that the tassel quickly frayed and became ratty looking. I then taught myself the art of mala making, and made a mala with a prayer box pendant I found from Nepal for myself. That first mala got a lot of attention, and I realized that I might be able to make a small business of this. Having a desire to give back in some way, I decided to donate all profit to the Stop Girl Trafficking Program of the American Himalayan Foundation. Each mala sold keeps a girl safe from trafficking for one year by keeping her in their school program. There are over 10,500 girls in Nepal in this program today, and not a single girl has been lost to trafficking once they are in the program.

I create handcrafted designer mala beads, wrist wrap malas and gemstone tassel necklaces. The most popular items are my traditional malas, but the new wrist wrap malas are doing well, as they can be worn during yoga practice. I source beads and pendants through local stores, as well as online. I have been lucky to find one particular source, A World of Good, for handmade prayer boxes, prayer wheels and mandala pendants from Nepal. In additional to supporting the artisans in Nepal, the owner has also done great work there, most recently building a library.

As a one-woman, non-profit company I need to do it all. The sourcing of supplies, designing and creating of each mala is the "love" part of my business. As I work on each mala, I know that when it sells, it will save a girl from trafficking; so a lot of love goes into each piece. It motivates me to do what I do everyday. The business side has been a learning experience. Having never been a participant in social media before, I had to quickly get up to speed in order to engage today's audience. In addition to Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, I had to build a website. This was the one area where I had to hire someone to help me. Everything else (i.e. bookkeeping, taxes, social media, order processing, trunk shows, etc.), I do myself in order to maximize the profit that I can donate.

The most amazing thing to me about this business is how it evolved, as if it were meant to be. When I decided to donate all profit from the business, there was not a specific cause at the time that I was connected to. While wearing that first mala I made with a prayer box from Nepal, I researched online for charities hoping to find a connection to something that would motivate me. Almost immediately I came across the American Himalayan Foundation. As I read about their Stop Girl Trafficking program, tears streaming down my face, I knew that I found it - but it was as if it found me. My goal was to save 100 girls my first year, and I'm proud to say that I have exceeded that.

By appointment or 914-768-3285

A selection of malas can also be found at 
Wishlist, 606 Post Road East, Westport, CT

Find Karma Mala on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.


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