There are few places that lend themselves quite so evocatively as the opening setting for a story as a beach in the Bahamas. One imagines that inspiration comes easily in an environment defined by a color-palette of saturated blues and turquoises, cool golds, and salmon-pinks; by sunrises and sunsets over silky white sands; and the continuous soothing lull of the surf in the background. While this is not the very beginning of Satya’s story—that starts many years before—this is where Satya found herself, ten years ago, at a turning point in her life. She was searching for new direction.
Satya’s dream has always been to help children around the world. She transitioned from early experience as a pre-school teacher, to studying to be a social worker. Fairly early on, however, overtaxed and worn down by the emotional demands of the work, Satya became disenchanted with her chosen career. As a break, she began working in a friend’s jewelry company. It was a distraction that turned out to be far more compelling than expected. Satya took to the work easily, engaged and stimulated by the combination of creativity and business. She ended up spending two years working for the company, at which point she felt ready to go back to working with people again, but this time her focus would be different. She had trained in the healing practice of Reiki, and was drawn to yoga. Her intention was to become a qualified practitioner of both, and it was at this point that she headed to the Bahamas for an intensive thirty days of training. It was a trip that would change her life.
On the last day of training, as is customary, the students were asked to embrace the spiritual names they had been given. At first Satya was unaware of the meaning of her name, but quickly learned that the word ‘satya’ is Sanskrit for ‘truth’. That night, the newly christened Satya had a powerful dream that she would design jewelry that represented ‘all truths’ and donate a percentage of her proceeds to children around the world. The next day she called a close friend, and within two weeks they had formed the Satya Foundation, which to date has donated over one million dollars to children’s groups around the world. Satya acknowledges the transcendent significance of her dream. It was a mission-dream—a vision, giving her direction and clarifying her focus. She also recognizes how fortunate she is: she does the social work that means so much to her, with a bigger impact, but also combines it with skills that draw on creativity and resourcefulness. Few people are lucky enough to combine so many of their interests and passions in a single job.
Satya loves jewelry. She has always been good with her hands, and has a natural ability to see design in everyday things. Her inspiration comes from the beauty of the natural world and its inhabitants. Her pieces are informed by three key principles: beauty, meaning, and inspiration. All her work responds to these criteria, which she believes, by virtue of their complex and circular interrelationship, prompt a deeper conversation around the notion of ‘fashion’. Beauty alone can lack meaning; meaning is often drawn from inspiration; inspiration is driven by our search for meaning; and meaning has intrinsic beauty. In a world where so many things have become disassociated from their meaning, there is a clear opportunity to recreate and celebrate the original story. Satya’s goal? "Anyone walking into the store can find something that touches them, or has meaning." They can then carry that meaning forward with them.
Satya’s search for meaning was partially inspired in the aftermath of 9/11. She lived in Manhattan, watched the towers go down, and was one of the many volunteers who provided help and hope in an environment wrenched apart by horror and chaos. “The whole idea of division over different beliefs was so hard to understand,” she says. Later, in the Bahamas, her teacher, Swami Sivananda, reminded them that the paths are many, but the truth is one; that happiness can be found in all sorts of ways that are blessed by God. “I wanted the Satya collection to be just that,” Satya says. Truth and happiness, by another path, in multiple ways.
Satya designs for the modern, strong, fearless woman. Her intention is to mirror, through pieces that convey both strength and delicacy, the same qualities of their wearers: women who are afraid neither of their own strength and potential, nor their femininity; women who are attracted to adventure, to discovering things in both the outer and their own inner worlds. A strong woman can wear a pretty pink rosary bracelet because it says multiple things about her; it is a statement of both intention and belief.
Satya’s jewelry has a multicultural heritage. Her designs, which take their influence from all around the world, are conceived here in New York. The pieces for each design are crafted in Thailand by local artisans, from locally-sourced materials that include metals and semi-precious stones. The crafted pieces then return to New York for assembly by a talented group of Tibetan women, part of Satya’s production team. Her jewelry balances both traditional and evolving styles. One of the most delicate but powerful symbols in Satya’s work is the lotus flower, a bloom found all over Asia, often growing out of the mud, yet always luminous, pure and untouched. It is a reminder of our ability to come from a dark place and remain somehow untouched, that beauty can flourish anywhere. It is a symbol of transformation that works across many levels.
Driving everything, of course, is Satya’s primary mission: to help children in need. Satya finds grass root organizations that work directly with the children so there is no money wasted. The organizations she supports work with orphans, children with autism, the hungry and needy, those in need of education and healthcare, and those in need of love. Every year she visits the children in India helped by her foundation. Satya is committed to ensuring that these things can be provided by involving us all if we are open to being part of a greater good. An inspiring mission, with meaning, and beauty.