Friday, February 3, 2017

bela suresh roongta's menhndi-inspired clothing leads to a book--more about our "...fill in the beauty" event on february 14, 7 pm, at boswell

credit: DeAnna Heidmann
If you practice yoga in Milwaukee, you're likely to see the Mehndi-inspired designs of Bela suresh roongta on your fellow participants. If you don't, you've probably seen them elsewhere. Bela's company, belabela, sells tees, tanks, and pullovers with Bela's beautiful and intricate drawings. Bela was inspired by the art of Mehndi, a traditional art form applied with henna in India, to create her artwork. Each year at the lunch, we'd chat about how business was. Her business model involves attending specialty shows all over the country, and now her clothing is featured in many boutiques nationwide, due to the hard work of Bela and her associate, Kathi Castle.

Because I do not practice yoga, I knew Bela as a book lover, and it was only when we both started participating in the WWBIC (Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation) lunches, she as one of the vendors and I helping sell the books for the featured authors, that we started chatting about her business. Recently I visited her at her studio, to learn more about her work.

It turned out that Bela was also journaling, some of which inspired her designs, and one of her clients asked her to put a poem Bela talked about on one of the tops. The first piece, with art on the front, poem on the back, was actually a gift to the client, but as anyone knows in this business (and we're sort of in this business, as we sell our own tee shirts), hitting a minimum order drops your cost substantially, and so belabela printed extras, and guess what? They sold out immediately.

Demand for the shirts that mixed images and text led Bela to think that maybe there was a book there. Being that so many of her thoughts revolve around creativity, it seemed perfect to have a book that involved coloring as well, and that's how ...fill in the beauty: a book for the storyteller and artist in all of us was born.

The truth is that the coloring craze is winding down, but the more I looked at ...fill in the beauty, the more I realized that this book completely transcends the genre. I am much more reminded of the work of Sark or more recently, of Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey. After consulting with me, Bela already made some changes to the new printing, adding the title and author to the spine, for example. But I think there's a future life for this book in a more traditional format, focusing more on Bela's inspirational thoughts and the accompanying images. Here's hoping the right door opens to make that happen.

Meanwhile, Bela Suresh Roongta and Boswell will be celebrating ...fill in the beauty at an event on Tuesday, February 14,  7 pm, at Boswell. Yes, it's Valentine's Day, but in a way, that seemed completely appropriate, and it's my thought that the romantic dinners are more likely to be the weekend before.

But I know some of you and you're thinking, "This book looks great but I want a belatee!" I've got two great answers for you. First of all, Bela will be debuting her four hearts tee at our event on Valentine's Day. And I also want to clue you in about belabela's studio evenings. Their Shorewood showroom is open periodically. It is by invitation only, but I'm showing you how to connect with Bela and Kathi for one of their events. Fill out this contact form and you're on your way. And secondly, if you want to check out the collection right now, visit Yellow Wood in Whitefish Bay or myOm wellbeing in Fox Point.

Meanwhile, enjoy some photos of the belabela studio. And yes, they sell the prints too.

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