Photo credit: Elizabeth Ukpe @theantiheel

How I met Sri is a multidimensional story. She appeared to me in numerous forms, at different times and through various connections. She offered me a bar of her handmade artisanal chocolate that she co-created with 2 other women. Her message was magnetizing: “With this chocolate, we connect women to their senses and emotions. It is a reminder for us to celebrate our small victories and indulge mindfully.”

As an expatriate from India who lived in Los Angeles, Pittsburg, and Nashville and now New York, Sri Thayi was on a mission to connect and alleviate women’s suffering. With a Jain monk and a gynecologist, she helped create a prenatal healing studio for women living in villages of India. When she moved to the United States she decided to use her skills in product marketing to develop a line of all natural beauty products inspired by her mother’s ayurvedic rituals and recipes. She started a movement on self-care and inner beauty using beauty products to connect with women in Nashville. One thing led to another. She integrated meditation with cacao ceremonies to bring women together and help them heal trauma.

The reason for building women’s circles? Her need to escape from an abusive relationship and find healing. She realized that women must understand and support each other for healing to occur on a personal and a collective level.

When I sat with Sri for an interview she shared aspects of working with women and thoughts about her decision to move to New York.

“Some women and men take on emotional labor which is undervalued and unrecognized in our communities and societies in general. Emotions are not valued in that way. We need to start recognizing emotional labor and creating safe psychological spaces.”

And also,

“Scientists traced the origin of adult trauma to the mother’s womb. Working with women is important because they are the gatekeepers for the next generation. How amazing if we could prevent emotional dysfunctionality even before we are born.”  

What does W3 chocolate mean to you?

The chocolate is a byproduct of my experiments as a hypnotherapist working with the subconscious mind to change negative personal narratives. It was a joyous way for me to upturn suffering and transform it into empowerment. I am grounded. I am excited. I am balanced are the three chocolate flavors which relate to the energetic centers in the body. They also symbolize steps toward our journey to emotional self-mastery.

What advice do you have for those who want to connect with other human beings but don’t know how?

Start with yourself. When I can’t connect with others it is usually because I have lost connection with myself. Have an honest conversation with yourself. What do you do in your life that prevents you from living a fulfilling life? Usually, you feel disconnected from yourself when you don’t live an authentic life. Maybe your job, your relationship, your lifestyle, or the food you eat are not aligned with your desires. Right now we live in the best of times because we have access to so many tools to help us know ourselves and improve our lives.  

What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs?

Introspect before starting a new venture. Following your heart is important but don’t be afraid to confront your fears. Keep it simple and keep your mission in mind in order to be authentic.

In what communities do you feel you belong in New York?

I belong everywhere and not necessarily to a particular community. New York is supposed to be a bouquet of intellectual communities that educate you in a wonderful way. I don’t really subscribe to one particular community. I create a sense of community wherever I go.

In a way, I am living the typical New York story. After a traumatic personal experience, I wanted to rebuild my sense of self and identity. I came to New York without knowing anybody determined to execute “the plan me.” From the time I moved here, the city has nurtured and offered me a safe space to heal and express my self and become a version of myself that is closer to my nature as a woman and a human being.

What can the world learn from New York City?

Resilience. Even though I could have moved back to India to the comforts of my family home and the security of longterm connections I chose to move here. When I hit rock bottom I used it as an opportunity to make a breakthrough. To learn to believe in myself and to go after my dreams. To trust and rely on myself. In the great Sanskrit epic Ramayana Hindu goddess Sita had to walk through fire to prove her innocence. Coming to New York is like jumping into the fire and coming to the other side as a way to test your self-worth. You need to learn how to surrender completely and have faith in the greater good.

What are the next steps for W3 chocolate?

We are in 26 stores nationwide and just got into Whole Foods Williamsburg. We are excited to see what the future has in store for us. At this point, I really want to share the magic of meditation and chocolate to inspire and empower women in different phases of their life journey.