The Sita Couture Brand
Sita: “It’s a lifestyle brand, targeting the spa resort demographic, we make clothes to live in, we manufacture everything in LA, and it’s very feminine casual. You can wear it everywhere, you an dress it up and you can dress it down very, luxury,” Sita explains.
“We honor the body and the women love that, and the men love that. Men are sick of their girlfriends and wives hiding their bodies, and I make them fell comfortable in their bodies.
We don’t want it to hide their body we want it to honor their body. Theres stuff that doesn’t shape right, clothes that are too tight and they are trying to be sexy and it doesn’t work.”
“So I spent a lot of time, I danced all my life, I needed things where I could go from rehearsal to stage to media, and I needed it to look 360, so I bring that ethos into my line.”
Sita Thompson’s Cultural Background
Sita: “My dad’s Mexican-American Indian, my name is Sita from India, my sister is Shanti, so the kids in my family have Mexican-American names, native American names or east Indian. My parents were into names that had purpose. Sita means “god’s life” in the Indian religion, In India they really loved my name,” Sita explains.
“I lived in Bombay, India for six years, I got back about 9 years ago. My dad always says third world countries are the only place where the heart truly is and I just loved it, I loved the people, the culture, it’s challenging. If you can find peace in India, you can definitely start your own company.”
“I got back here and I came with one purpose. I had a pretty cool life in India, but I came back to start my company. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I just knew that that was my intention. I was always interested in fashion, I’ve been doing potpourri pillows at the farmers market since I was 9-12, handmade tied all my flowers, my stepmom Nikki taught me a lot about sewing, as well as my mom and grandmother. My dads an organic farmer, did not care anything about pretty. If i wanted pretty, I had to learn how to make it. Then we had Au Pairs from Europe, and I got to meet a designer and she would bring us stuff, and thats when I learned what it meant when somebody creates something for you, thats designer. It started when I was really really young.”
A brand is a story, I would have wanted to have a brand when I was 16 or something but it wasn’t until later that I realized.
Sita’s Dad as an Influence on Her Life
Chris: “How much of an influence did your dad have when you were young and he told you to make it if you want to create it?” Christopher asks.
Sita: “I was pissed, I was like so mad, and he wouldn’t understand why I was so mad.” Coming from a very non-conventional upbringing, so now I am so thankful and we laugh about it. It ended up being a blessing now, but I didn’t feel that way when I was little.
That whole thing with my dad and my upbringing, I got over in my 20s, I’m like this is amazing I am so blessed, I saw the blessings.I give everything to them for pushing me the way they did when I was little. I knew being raised like that anything I wanted to do I could do. I knew how to take care of myself, and take care of other people.”
Inspiration Behind Sita Couture Style
Sita: “I started designing for me, as I mentioned going from rehearsal to a media thing, to dinner, and in Bombay everything is so congested, so I needed to have pieces where I could go to all my things and look ready, I started developing there, and I just got so into what I was constructing. That became my new passion was constructing these pieces. It started there, my first pieces was Indian process meets classic America, and they were gowns made for the Saree but in American bodies, so they were stunning. I was obsessed with the beauty that you could make somebody feel that I could feel and I could do it for other people, it made me feel so good.
It went from the formal stuff and as I started living in American again, I realized I’m not going to wear this to the Mall, and I wanted to be able to wear my line everywhere a lll the time so I started constructing things that I wanted to wear all the time. I was making the patterns, and some of the patterns are from my grandma. She has a special place in my heart. Living through the great depression you had to know how to do everything, do your nails, how to make something from a curtain, you were always going to show as your best self regardless of the situation.
If you are writing from the heart, or you’re making something from the heart, it starts with filling that, you want to share something but you need to tap into something thats real, knowing it’s real for you and must be real for people out there.”
I think because of my globalization, I feel like I’ve been saturated in just women in so many ways. I understand so many different cultures of women. Even when I am one of the fit bodies for my line because I’m a six, if it works on me, it’ll work on everything. So I think having been able to be on camera all of those years, being a fit model, and knowing the dimensions that make women feel good it could be like oh wow, how lucky are we to be a company and also be able to make women feel good.
Industry Lingo: What is a Fit model?
Sita: “Designers in the fashion mart they have you come in, and you’re a model and they need to see how it fits on you. Like a six is a really good size for a fit model. The objective is whether they are full busters or smaller or whether they’re a fuller body or smaller body that it still looks good, and that all has to do with the cut. So to fit a broad range of people with one style is the objective, and you need a fit model for that.
And there are certain brands that are just for tall or petite, but you want to be able to talk to a range of people in each one of those sectors so having benefit model and having that dimension. Theres a lot of thought about it.”
Competitive Landscape of the Industry
Chris: “The apparel industry is insanely difficult, and then to manufacture in LA, theres a moment like are you insane?” asks host Christopher Marston
Sita: “You are not the first person to ask me that, I just don’t know anything other than what I really want to do. I tried in the beginning to manufacture in India, but my minimums were too low, so my stuff was coming with beads falling off, smelling like dirt or smelling like gas, and I knew that couldn’t happen. So I learned manufacturing here, I established good relationships and joined associations. I met the head at different fashion schools, connected with students. The teachers loved my attitude, I was totally intentional, I came back to do this, I wasn’t messing around like OK we are doing this show and this show.
The Non-Traditional Path
Sita: “I really thought I needed to go raise all this money, thats the tradition, and I’m just so not traditional, you guys gave me great advice. I had a few contracts offering a million or half a million dollars, and you guys pointed out hey, look here! and when you get a couple of those contracts and people that you thought you trusted, you’re like wow can you imagine if I would have signed that,” Sita explains.
Resilience in the Industry & Following Your Heart
Chris: “The years have gone on, the hardest part is usually the first two or three years, and here you are you’ve not only resisted the traditional path, you’ve stayed, you haven’t got investors you’ve just toughed it out. What shaped you? Was it like your childhood? What was it that got you to just believe in and stick with it, because I know you worked your butt off
Sita: “I would say that I think it’s when you start to realize, you don’t have to be what other people think you have to be because you’re an apparel line, you don’t have to be in all of these big doors, you can do whatever you want. The biggest thing was not to judge myself and be like, I love their advice wait a minute whats wrong with being a little bit more small. I ended up going into spa and resort which happens to be the hardest place to get involved with you know spa is very “shishy” and it ends up that they are actual hardcore healers and they are people that lead the way and lead the way in sustainable mindset when it comes to new ways to heal. We are talking the Ritz, we are talking the Four seasons, Lowe’s, I let go of judging that it had to be a certain way, and I allowed. Then I started getting invites to these shows and before you knew it I was like the leading spa resort brand,” Sita explains excitedly.
Sita’s Experience with Exemplar
Chris: People give up or they compromise, you stuck with your guns on believing a certain distribution path was the right way to go, and that you didn’t have to define yourself on traditional or other peoples terms. That came from somewhere?
Sita: “I am very blessed that I am very connected with spirit in many ways, I am protected, I always always try to do right by people and I feel like that has gained me so much protection because I have walked down some places, like some of the contracts we encountered, that could have totally wiped down many different things that were just completely unruly, and I have to say that I think I am lucky. I have some incredible luck. When opportunity meets the focus and the intent, thats what the luck is. Theres never just one thing, it’s an actual multitude of things that has a lot to do with people, Chris. I am so blessed to have people like you, knowing I had you guys there as my advisors gave me so much confidence. When you have that confidence you can like walk through everything. Confidence is amazing
I got so much joy from it, theres going to be bumps, its like raising a child, but since the beginning, I viewed it as an avenue to make people feel good, cause I truly love to connect with people. Fashion just happen to be something that I could do, but my magic is connecting with people, so thats what kept me. It wasn’t the actual company it was the magic that fueled me.
Anyone wanting to start something, I always tell them to find that love because that would hold you through.”
Feminism & Leadership
Chris: “I’ve seen you in your environment and in your leadership roles and I find you to be a feminine leader, someone who leads in her feminine power, I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen you have to leave your feminine power to have to lead in a masculine power kind of way, and that’s very unique.”
Sita: “One of the things when I started my business, I totally did not want to turn into some like, man. I was very conscious about it. Almost everything you said about me came with layers of intention, like I write like nobodies business, I journal, I write down the feelings that I want to feel and I know the intention, I’ve been doing that since elementary school, so I know how to actually go and so a lot of that stuff its not by accident. I worked on that when I was little. Everything having an intention, even around the collections. There is an intention behind every style, and behind leadership techniques knowing that I want to become more feminine in my practice because I believe that leadership is very feminine, theres a feminine way to do it, and theres a masculine, there a masculine element that comes out especially when I’m out there, even when I get mad at my workers. But, I think it also has to do with the nature of the person as well , I told you my Grandma being a beauty queen, and my mom, she is very feminine.”
Chris: “Theres a tendency to misconstrue beauty and delicate or being womanly as not being in power and I think thats a misconception.”
Sita: “I think that a lot of shifting around that right now. I truly believe that. I think a lot in alignment with this, my dad was really, really into powerful women. Having a dad who really believed in feminine strength is great. Having those values integrated into my soul was definitely a base root. I was very independent from about age 9, I wanted to move out at age 12. So when you ask me that, I know how people are projected upon, but I’ve never felt that way in so many ways. I’ve never felt like people looked at me because I’m feminine and pretty like they looked down on my. I thought that they always gave me a great platform. and I feel like if you feel that inside of yourself you’re going to command that around you. I think that people get suppressed based on what other people have been raised to believe, but if you show up differently then you are the only one in that moment that makes any difference at all. Everything has to be about you.”
Chris: “It sounds like an hardships you’ve had as an entrepreneur are not related to gender whatsoever particularly?”
Sita: “No, I don’t think so. I don’t know anything else. It’s not like its not a reality that had different. I don’t judge that and I have sympathize with it and I work with many people in order to help shift mindsets, because everything is a mindset. and if you learned, you can unlearn things, and you can learn new things. Being raised the way I was raised, I have never felt like less.”
Chris: “Sounds like your dad has had an influential role, just as much as your mother and even grandmother, in shaping the center you.”
Sita: “That’s why I am always like you guys, what you do with your kids every moment is so important. You integrate them, and show them their value, and thats that part of woman, when a little girl is just doted on that they don’t know what to do, because they never had to do anything on their own and that is actually a curse, so thats how those girls turn out like that.”
Chris “You actually won some awards recently right?”
Sita: “I cannot believe it! I am lucky! We just won rising brand of the year in the Los Angeles Business Journal. Can you believe that? I was just like what?
In 2017, we opened up for Style. They gave us a $30,000 runway show for nothing because I had ethnic blood and they wanted me to produce a show and yeah so that was major. I am very active in the community. Everything cross-pollinates. One of my fashion mentors nominated me and we ended up winning.”
Personality & Business
Chris: “Let me ask you this: I know you’re not an extrovert like me, so where do you get your energy from to do that?”
Sita: “To be an introvert does not mean you don’t have energy, because I am abundant in energy. I meditate, I am a religious meditator every day in the morning for like five or six years, which has given me so much core center. I’m hardcore ocean swimmer and I do all sorts of yoga and I love running and I do HIIT three times a week with my international united sister society. Kundalini, we do Kundalini every week too. I’m always stoking my inner fire. (30:00). and just love every moment with myself. Consciously just replenishing because I do put out so much, and I have to replenish internally. I use all the best bath salts, oils in my bath every single night giving me all the minerals, and spa ritual. That’s one thing I have been doing a lot lately. Pairing with brand buddies to share some of the magic that I feel makes me that abundant with my life.”
When CEO’s Get Real
Surviving in the Fashion Industry During a Pandemic
Chris: “For those who aren’t watching in this moment of time.. we’re in this pandemic thing and we have been for several months, and some of the retail industries have been hit the most. How has that affected you?”
Sita: ‘So, we had just won an award which is supposed to be really good for sales. We had things going all over the Caribbean. I mean Chris, you don’t even know, like everything got charged back. Stopped payments, I mean everybody shut. It’s so interesting because I just checked it in instantly just got on cancel all credit cards, just got everything in order in order to protect myself. and then people were freaking out all around me. Anyways, I got very strategic and in crisis control mode and that was a good month and a half.
Chris: “You had to jump into action fast, because you were seeing right at the front edge of it when orders were being cancelled shutdowns were happening, everybody wasn’t feeling it, yet. But you knew where this was going.”
Sita: “I mean yeah, especially growing up the way I did. my dad has always been planning like places off the beaten path and we have a big property down in Mexico that we want to develop that he’s been totally anti-mainstream for a long time. So I was like okay, we got this. My friend Sharon sent me over some money and said “hey, you need to start making masks.” We got that going and before you knew it, I was helping out a lot of the properties that still had employees on site. I would do the branded masks and it was amazing to see that I could actually have a business there. and then, I started getting a little bit creative cause you know you have to wear them everywhere you go. It came from my infinity scarf, so I already had inventory which was cool, and I just innovated, so here you have like a cute little scarf *shows scarf*, until you need a mask you go here *shows clips on scarf that clips to ears* and if you want it to be a little bit cuter, *wraps around neck* there you go.
Chris: “That’s awesome!”
Sita: “This won an award which was really cool, so I started working with these, and you just have fun with whatever is gong on, you just have fun. That’s what fashion is! I can’t believe how much people love this. It’s such a basic thing, but it got a lot of love. You can also take it off, and it can be a sarong, which is a really fun way to wear it. So just stepping up to the plate and trying to provide style value, and now goggle just said lounge, comfortable, eco, made in USA is the most famous way to sell fashion now, because no one wants anything from anywhere other than the USA, and they want cozy, and they want to start figuring out how to be more comfortable in their space.”
Chris: “I hear China’s going out of style, it’s about time!” *laughs*
Sita: “Exactly! I’m still doing the masks, but I want to bring the fashion back in. Tops are really popular because people are doing zoom and they want to have cute tops.”
Lack of Values in Society
Chris: “Ok, let me push a button or two. This is just rainbows followed by butterflies, I mean its just perfect. I think the real juice is what you tapped into there. Tell me the lack of values, about the propaganda, the things you’re seeing that are the not high vibe, high energy, other godly things that are going on right now.”
Sita: So I never had a TV growing up. So it always made me feel different. If you have been raised just believing all these billboards and TV commercials then you don’t have that ability of discernment to know what is and what isn’t. Everything just morphs together because you haven’t planted, you’ve never developed a skill, you just watch TV all your life, you’ve had parents that were just totally unplugged from your life. And they’re a huge part of the world that is like this. So, as you start to see everything that is going on, you can see it loud and clear. You can see the people that are flipping out right now, because they are believing everything on the tube, they do not have a sense of the earth of people. So thats where I am coming from there.”
Chris: “I’m sure you’ve had friends ask you, have you ever watched this movie or this show? And I know what your answer would be. But my answer would be “I don’t watch the things that people make, I make the things that people watch.” and it’s just a thing about being a participant in life, and not a spectator, and they’re just so much spectacular spectating going on. It feels like it’s getting ramified now and it’s become an addictive drug.”
Sita: I would say, incredibly head-on with that, and what I am also learning in this process is non-judgement of that. Absolute compassion for the fear that they are feeling, having not the same background and understanding. But when you have a platform, and you have the ability to inspire, because with inspiration and love is where shift happens. So you have the ability to do that, and you do, and you don’t judge any of the other stuff you actually provide a platform and you share, and that human spirit wants that more than anything because they are scared, and they don’t know. In our society, that is what we created.
Chris: “It reminds me a bit of taking people out of the billable hour environment in the professional service world, because they never saw their value the entire time. They were just counting time, they were cogs in a wheel, selling something no body wants to buy, increments of time. and then you open their eyes and show them what value is and how to see themselves, and how customers see them, and suddenly they are doing the same thing but they see their worth in the world, and its transformative.”
Sita: “Do you see how this time could actually be something beautiful when you look at it like that, there are so many people waking up. It’s happening through the fear.”
Chris: “But it takes a lot of courage, people have gone their whole life and don’t know their true talent, skills, or value. To have to leave the safety net off the mechanical that is at least done enough to get them to survive.”
Sita: “Chris, is somebody born courageous?”
Chris: “I think they are.”
Sita: “No, they become courageous because they have to be. Your not born courageous. You become courageous because you have to be that in order to get through.”
Chris: “Everyone I know that succeeded in life has scars and bumps and got concussions, and get on. It didn’t stop them.”
Sita: “That’s why shows like this are so important. When you asked me to come on I was like “oh yeah” because you are providing a platform for people to grow, learn, connect, and understand that theres another way and it starts with yourself and your soul connection to source and to tap into that. Even if they don’t know what you’re talking about it plants a seed and they can go deeper.”
Chris: “I do think theres a movement right now, theres an awakening happening.”
Sita: “Regardless of what side of the street you walk on, everybody knows this because we are all human, and we all have a spirit inside of us. We resonate with that energy because we are all apart of it.”
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