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Karuna Dawn A Journey From Conformity To Compassion

Sri, a migrant child, began her journey at the age of 6, moving through multiple primary schools, from Sydney to Canberra, and finally to Melbourne. She quickly learned how to blend in and gain acceptance, striving to be liked and included. “I proudly wore it as a badge of honour when someone said, ‘Gosh, I don’t think of you as Indian; you’re so Australian to me.'”

She became adept at adapting herself to different situations, morphing like a chameleon, depending on what she believed people expected of her. Sri avoided rocking the boat, aiming for universal approval. Her people-pleasing tactics were successful, but she soon realised it was like a disease.

Culturally, professional success and climbing the corporate ladder were paramount; they brought social status, respect, and community admiration. She bought into that, even though she knew from an early age she wanted to serve. Aspiring to venture out independently, become an entrepreneur, and make a meaningful impact. “I’ve always felt a deep connection to marginalised and vulnerable individuals who face daily hardships.”

What held her back from pursuing her own path? Fear. Fear of people’s opinions, especially if her venture failed. Sri dreaded the label of failure. So, she remained in the corporate world for an extended period, failing to set boundaries, which led to challenging situations.

It wasn’t until her late 30s, after life had taken its toll, that she immersed herself in spiritual teachings and devoured soul-touching books. “I started shedding the weight of others’ opinions and my self-limiting beliefs. I finally removed the shackles I had placed on myself through my values and belief system, which only held me back. Living with gratitude and clarity about my goals and how I wanted to serve became the focal point of my life. Time became my most precious resource, and I focused on how I used each moment.”

Sri had no clear idea of her path or how she would achieve it, but the desire to help others on her terms remained persistent.

In 2019, she encountered the story of Nazreen Sheikh, an inspiring woman who had been a child labourer enduring horrendous conditions, working 14-16-hour days in a tiny room. Her tale deeply moved Sri. “If this incredible and inspirational woman had the courage to escape her sweatshop and forced marriage to start up a fair trade sewing collective in Nepal, I have no excuse to stay silent. We’re so caught up in the idea that our endeavours must be perfect before we begin that we often never start. We’re so afraid of trying and making a difference due to the fear of failure that we remain stagnant.” After hearing Nazreen’s story, she decided not to let fear hold her back.

This is when Karuna Dawn was born, Sri’s business dedicated to making lives better. “Karuna” in Sanskrit means compassion, an action to alleviate suffering. “Dawn” symbolizes conscious and compassionate living.

“The name aligns perfectly with our business, as our mission is to uplift and transform lives, promoting harmony among people, animals, and the planet because we are all interconnected. We all share the same thread, and once you realise this, you begin making conscious and compassionate choices.”

So, what did Sri create? Ethical, sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free bags and accessories.

How did she go about it? By partnering with ethical suppliers who shared her vision. Sri collaborates with partners in Nepal and Rajasthan, India, both of which are members of the World Fair Trade Organisation, ensuring they prioritise people and the planet. “Our Mumbai partner creates our stunning upcycled denim bags, preventing garments from ending up in landfill. She collaborates with local self-help groups, aided by NGOs, providing training and equipment to women from marginalised communities.”

Sri’s partner in Thailand works with local, rural communities to produce their visually striking leaf leather range. The Thai government has recognised their partner for their eco-friendly practices. Their innovative plant-based leather has received excellent customer feedback and remains their most popular range.

“Our materials of choice include organic cotton, upcycled denim, and fallen leaves for our leaf leather products.”

Sri and Karuna Dawn have ambitious dreams. “We aspire to become a globally recognised brand advocating for conscious and sustainable fashion. We aim to use Karuna Dawn as a platform to uplift and transform lives, sponsoring education and health initiatives, and expanding our business to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged individuals. We want to use our global voice to promote vegan, cruelty-free, and conscious living.”

To support Karuna Dawn and Sri’s dreams of expansion, you can follow along on their Instagram page or shop here.





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