Female Fingerprints is a new monthly feature created to highlight women around the globe who have had an impact in their local communities. Over the next twelve months I will share some of the best and brightest stories of women who are making a positive and lasting imprint on our world.
My Sit-Down with Zenia
It was a cold rainy afternoon, as I walked into the Luxembourg City Center, yearning for a hot cup of coffee and some warmth! It was almost as though I had spoken out aloud and had been heard when I found myself walking through a cozy arcade, conveniently nestled, into Les Sûtras. A beautiful boutique that echoed Zenia’s style and welcoming demeanor. Zenia greeted me with a gracious smile, offering a cup of coffee which I accepted with glee as my smile broadened.
I was ushered into a boudoir-fashioned chair, covered in soft and snug fabric upholstery, facing Zenia, who sat behind her beautiful, rich dark colored desk that prominently displayed pictures of celebrities in embellished frames. She portrayed and completed the ambience of a classy and confident businesswoman, well put together with her gorgeous silk scarf draped gracefully over her shoulder.
Threads that Bind
As we dove into exhilarating conversations and stories, my eyes simultaneously wandered around the space, taking in each detail. There is something to be said about this wonderland. There was a sense of elegance, romance, and avant-garde as I gingerly gathered up and traced my fingers through the plethora of prints and designs of the lustrous silken scarves. There was a vast variety of white regimental, brilliant multi-colored wide florals, blue tinged with grey, jocund-lavender, notable reds, and astounding purples.
“Sûtras” in Sanskrit is translated as “threads”…… threads that bind people, cultures, and stories. A befitting brand name for the culmination of all threads of silk and wool in the boutique, that make you want to take a stroll with them and capture their beauty one step and one piece at a time, imagining the story behind the inspiration of each design.
The spacious white rug in the center of the room, strategically placed under the studio lights, and a large ornate mirror in front, compelled me to try on a soft wool poncho (an appreciated comeback to my favorite), with delicate crystals. The pièce de résistance, however, was a chic printed, wool coat with a bateau neck collar.
This ensemble reminded me of the different threads woven into a tapestry that reflects the stories of a different era, yet exquisitely designed with modernity, style and sophistication in mind. A piece that is irresistible and gives you immense confidence. Perhaps that is why I playfully tried it on and did a couple of pivots for Zenia as she reached for her phone to capture the pictures in slow motion. This enabled me to learn yet another one of her talents, that she was well gifted in photography.
As I examined my glam pictures of her elaborate designs through her lens, I saw her passion and joy for her work. The prints and fabrics were invigorating, the whole look brought sunshine compared to the norm of the winter blacks and grey!
Making a Connection
Zenia and I had made a connection, our conversations were honest and meaningful as she gradually allowed me into her world.
Although she is a successful entrepreneur, Zenia’s life was not always easy. Her move to cozy small-town flair Luxembourg from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, fourteen years earlier, did not come without challenges. Zenia supported her husband in their decision to move. There were a variety of opportunities, new job offer, growth, independence and some quiet and quality of life. However, the emotional connection to others was missing. Not knowing anyone, trying to make new friends, missing her family and home where she grew up were substantial hurdles. She admitted to me that she had become demotivated.
After a period of self-reflection, and meditation, Zenia’s resilience re-surfaced in the form of self-determination. “I told myself that I can do this! If I need independence, then I have to learn how to drive. If I want to become a part of the community, I need to learn the local language.”
She enrolled herself in language classes and took up Luxembourgish as a commitment to belong which regained her confidence. Upon receiving her certificate, she ventured to work and make a home for her growing family. Her daughter is her inspiration for motivation just as she encourages and portrays her strength of power and resilience to her daughter.
Shortly after, a dream started to merge, as she thought of how her very creative mother had surrounded their family with colors, fabrics and warmth, with her own personality and individuality. It was in this mindset that, she said to herself , “Today, I choose to be happy” and “age is just a number, I can do this”. Her strength was revived and a new journey emerged.
It’s never too late to push the restart button.
Zenia’s vision was to bring her two cultures together. She envisioned a connection with female artists in India, with whom she could form an alliance in fashion, prints, ethical and sustainable materials of high quality for the women of Luxembourg.
She continued to pursue other categories expanding her brand, Les Sûtras. Zenia worked with Luxembourg-based designers on women’s’ accessories, bridal wear, and personalized home products. The lifestyle brand echoes her vision of timeless pieces.
Zenia has included a selection of men’s scarves some with bold designs for the confident and stylish men who know exactly what they want. I had the pleasure of making a small purchase for my husband. He wears it well and agrees that it is refreshing to find merchandise of good quality, classic prints in fresh colors.
The highlight was the packaging, it came in a silk pouch with a monogramed logo complete with gold thread draw strings, a tasteful class act of the final touches.
Leaving Her Mark
Zenia’s fingerprints are all over the Grand Duchy, where she is constant in her hospitality, welcoming, motivating, and encouraging women. She opens up her space to host special events, like the Lux WMN Club’s “Capsule Wardrobe” by Zhanna Gevorgyan at Positive Styling, a book reading of “Seva The Art of Hospitality”, as well as showing a gallery of the works of talented artist, Liz Vanzeeland.
But her touch reaches as far as Nepal and India as well. Zenia’s philanthropy is felt far and wide, in collaboration with “Aide a l’Enfance de l’Inde et du Nepal, a Luxembourg NGO, that supports children in India and Nepal. Her desire to give back to society, in the form of donating a part of the profits for every product sold at Les Sûtras, aid in the sponsorship of education for these unprivileged children. A high calling and a true act of kindness.
As we were wrapping up, Zenia received some visitors who just had a new baby and she pulled out the most delightful personalized, blue baby blanket and presented it to them. I know she has her fingerprints on that too – an addition to her desirable collection to include must-haves for new born babies
Resilient leaders thrive in the face of change and uncertainty. Zenia’s impact on her community only came about by facing her adversities head-on. Her strength and willpower affords her the ability to make a lasting impression in her community. Looking around her space, seeing her work, it is no wonder she exudes great confidence!
Zenia’s Thoughts on Work and Life:
Throw myself out of my comfort zone
Practice the ‘elevator pitch’
Surround myself with a Support System
Give up complacency
Balance the basket of my life
Support other women entrepreneurs
And some of her hobbies:
Dancing, cooking, socializing, especially on weekends as people energize her.
To learn more about Les Sûtras, please visit: lesSûtras.com