New clothing company “Mata and Me” might just about be the most adorable idea ever: matching devotional outfits for mothers and daughters (and fathers and sons) that make a pretty picture and encourage a sweet family bond.
Sadly, this was something often missing from owner Ananda Lila Dasi’s own early life.
“I had a very tough childhood and adolescence, and I never met my father,” she says. “But when I came to Krishna consciousness in 2008, it changed my life. My spiritual master, Giriraja Swami, gave me the most influential gift – that of a father. And the ISKCON Dallas community, where I live, became like a family to me.”
From the beginning, Ananda-Lila was enchanted by Indian and Vaishnava clothing, and wanted some for her daughters Jamuna, 10, and Tulasi Priya, 2. But she had never been to India, and it was hard to find something comfortable, attractive and natural. So she began designing her own clothes for her children, to match with hers.
Ananda Lila (right) with her husband Chaitanya Lila and daughters Jamuna and Tulasi Priya. Photo by Prema Sindhu Das
Others wanted in too, and a unique new company was born. She called it “Mata and Me” (‘Mata’ means ‘mother’ in Sanskrit).
In doing this, Ananda Lila was able to champion the two things closest to her heart – family and Krishna consciousness. Her business is about creating clothes that give a loving Krishna conscious example to our children – who want to copy us and be like us.
But it also stretches beyond business. Through her inspirational Facebook and Instagram posts reflecting on the unique challenges of Krishna conscious motherhood, she hopes to create a community to lift up and support devotee mothers.
The clothes themselves, meanwhile, are practical, comfortable, bright and beautiful. Mata and Me’s trademark is Anarkalis for mothers and daughters – a traditional Indian dress and pant set. But Ananda Lila makes matching mom and daughter yoga pants, skirts and tops too; and kurta and yoga pant sets for dads and sons.
Tara Kristof with her daughter Mia, 8. Photo by Tommy Newbrey
She also makes custom orders so customers can choose longer or shorter skirts, long sleeve cholis, and full matching family outfits. The Anarkalis are versatile with the option to wear the pants and dress together in a traditional manner or without the pants as a sun dress. And they come with signature pockets “to store that spare snack for when your child has a meltdown in the middle of kirtan.”
The children’s clothes generally eschew cholis for more practical kurti tops and skirts, made without uncomfortable decorative features like sequins or seashells, and with 100% cotton and natural fibers that they can run wild in.
Combining Ananda Lila’s American sensibilities with Indian styles, Mata and Me’s clothing uses traditional ikat and bandani dyed fabrics, with patterns from paisleys to polka dots to birds and other animals.
Balarama Das and Visakha Dasi with their children Abhay Charan, 10, Parvati, 5, and Parashurama, 2
It’s also ‘conscious clothing’ – “We can’t be Krishna conscious until we’re conscious first,” says Ananda Lila, quoting Srila Prabhupada. So all her pieces are made with cruelty-free textiles – no silk, and ahimsa wool shaved naturally from sheep. Vegetable dyes, handloomed ikat, and hand-block-printed cotton are used, and the outfits are manufactured in small local companies in Vrindavan, India.
The conscious clothing attracts customers beyond the devotee world – over half of Mata and Me’s sales are to the yoga community. Ananda Lila is booked to set up a booth at the Texas Yoga Conference in Houston next month, and at the Holistic Festival of Life in June. At these kinds of events, she says, people are often attracted by the kirtan playing at her booth, ask questions about the lifestyle behind the clothes, and even come to visit the Dallas temple.
Ananda Lila also travels to connect with her devotee customers: she’ll be at Save the Cow Festival in New Talavan, Mississippi in the fall, and hopes to come to the Festival of the Holy Name in Alachua, Florida, too.
Madhava, Manjari and their daughter Ambika, 2.
“If you’d like us to come to a festival near you, please let us know,” she says.
And more and more devotees do seem to want to become a part of the Mata and Me community.
“A lot of people who grew up in the movement say they would dress their dolls up in Indian dresses, and dream about becoming a mother and dressing their daughters up in matching clothes,” says Ananda Lila. “Others tell me, ‘Thank you so much for helping me connect with my daughter in this way.’”
“Every little girl wants to be just like their mom,” she adds. “And for many of us as mothers, our biggest aspiration is to teach our children about Krishna in an encouraging, approachable way. So with Mata and Me I’m trying to bring mothers and children together and create an environment where we can be examples for our children.”
Gauranga Lila with her son Leonardo, 2. Photo by Prema Sindhu Das
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For more information and to buy Mata and Me outfits, visit http://www.mataandme.com/
To keep up with Ananda Lila’s inspirational posts and the latest Mata and Me developments, visit https://www.facebook.com/Mataandme/[ clothing ] [ fashion ] [ motherhood ]