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Meet Nrithi Subramanian, Lila Banowetz, Charlotte Lassarat, Maaya Shah and Ananya Venkatesh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nrithi Subramanian, Lila Banowetz, Charlotte Lassarat, Maaya Shah and Ananya Venkatesh.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Mantra and Co. is a small business dedicated to serving the community by using jewelry and accessories as a means to support charitable organizations and other small businesses both locally in the Dallas metroplex and globally. It is run by a diverse group of passionate high school female entrepreneurs who have come together to create a multifaceted collaborative atmosphere. Mantra and Co. was initially founded and bootstrapped in February 2020 by Nrithi Subramanian, a rising senior, in response to the Australian wildfires, as a way to fundraise money for that cause.

Subramanian was initially supported by Mary McCue, Ananya Venkatesh, Charlotte Lassarat, Emma Vandercook, Rishika Aggarwal, and Keely Salmon. Starting with its initial launch of the Butterfly Collection, Mantra and Co. quickly made over $1000, of which all net proceeds went to the Genesis Women’s Shelter in downtown Dallas. However, it didn’t stop there: Mantra’s team expanded with new members – Maaya Shah, Paige Selby, Lila Banowetz, and Ella Applegate; Mantra and Co. grew larger and rapidly gained more support leading to the handmade designs becoming products that could commonly be seen worn by people around Dallas. These products included a variety of accessories, including earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, and scrunchies. Mantra and Co was continuing its upward trend when the devastation that is known as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Despite the difficult time, Mantra and Co., I was dedicated to helping those who were greatly affected by the virus, thus expanding its vision. The Mantra and Co. team came together to support the Dallas community by supporting small businesses, including Penne Pomodoro, Flying Fish Restaurant, New York Subs, FedEx workers, Cisco Grill, and Burger House through the creation of ‘COVID-19 boxes’ that contained sanitation wipes and handmade masks. During the month of June, when the world was and is continued to be taken up by a revitalized sense of activism for the Black Lives Matter movement, Mantra and Co., realizing the number of small businesses that had been affected by protests, decided not only to set up a Go Fund Me raising over $730 but also donate all proceeds from the month of June to similar causes.

Finally, on June 26, through Highland Park High School’s Cross Country and Track and Field team, Mantra and Co. also made a donation to the North Texas Food Bank. Mantra is continuing to contribute to its community but also going further: they were founded on the basis of bringing together a team of intellectually, curious, and dedicated members who don’t just only want to give back to the community, but really want to immerse themselves by meeting and working with others within the community and further.

Mantra and Co. I was founded to support others within the community from small businesses to various charitable organizations around Dallas and the world. Mantra and Co. is comprised of a group of dedicated women with a vision of making the world a better place through retail via e-commerce. We pride ourselves in our team’s ability to bundle keeping up with up-and-coming trends along with affordability. We are also equally proud that while we have a widespread number of organizations that we support, we have always been able to stick to our original goal of being environmentally conscious with our eco-friendly packaging and avoidance of single-use plastics. We make it a strong effort to reduce our carbon footprint through whatever means possible.

Although we are not a nonprofit, we make it our priority that one hundred percent of our net proceeds go to various different causes that are not only important to us but to the members of our community and society. The fact that we are operated entirely by female high school students not only sets us apart from many businesses but also provides many blossoming entrepreneurs perspective into what life working in the business world may look like. The diverse range of students that are a part of Mantra and Co.’s team, ranging from soccer players through theater fanatics, help to provide an objective view of what’s trendy and “in” at the moment. Mantra and Co. is a group of extremely passionate students whose dedication and drive are unmatched. We have no intention of straying away from our ultimate goal of wanting to change the world for the better, which sets us apart from others.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
During Mantra and Co.’s inception, our sales slowly, but surely, grew substantially, operations moved smoothly, and our name began to gain widespread recognition. We connected with the Dallas community, but also gained traction with customers in various places around the country. Although, this progress was stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the initial hit of coronavirus, Mantra and Co. I was continuing an upward trend. However, over time as the country went through and continues to go through dealing with the economic setbacks of COVID-19, Mantra and Co began to see a slow downfall in sales over time. However, as a team, we recognized that there is never one direct path to the destination we had in mind. Our goal is and will always be to help others not because we can or need to, but because we want to. How do we proceed forward and onward? We were joined by new team members who possessed departmental skill sets and passion.

We also brought on individuals that did not have any prior experience but who had tenacity, drive, and passion. We reached out to more local businesses to explore potential partnerships, and continued forward with new product launches and heavily advertised them. Even with all these efforts, our sales were meager. Undeterred and tenacious, we recognized that smaller achievements would pave the way to larger ones. Our goal of selling our jewelry isn’t for us, yet to create a pathway for us to help the community through monetary means. With that in mind, we remain inspired, have grown stronger, and have developed resilience. We continue to push forward. As a result, Mantra’s camaraderie and devotion brought on a new wave of intellectual creativity and diversity. We opened up our marketplace to new ideas and tested them. For every one idea tested, many more are brought forward. Right now, it’s about patience, trial and error, and experimentation. We are acting outside our comfort zone and have been thinking outside the box. We are confident that we will continue to help impact the world as we are once again running strong.

While our team has undoubtedly seen some hardship and frustration, we believe that every set back we encountered only made Mantra and Co. stronger. Our greatest successes were a result of what seemed to be endless trial and error. We believe every mistake we’ve made, whether it be in the way we go about advertising, or quality assurance, or shipping methods, all of these had to happen in order for the business to grow and become stronger. The fact that we have been able to not only stay afloat but thrive through these setbacks proves to the entire team that Mantra and Co. can handle delays and we are a resilient group of students who are willing to put the extra work in.

Please tell us about Mantra and Co.
Mantra and Co. I was founded to support others within the community from small businesses to various charitable organizations around Dallas and the world. Mantra and Co. is comprised of a group of dedicated women with a vision of making the world a better place through retail via e-commerce. We pride ourselves in our team’s ability to bundle keeping up with up-and-coming trends along with affordability. We are also equally proud that while we have a widespread number of organizations that we support, we have always been able to stick to our original goal of being environmentally conscious with our eco-friendly packaging and avoidance of single-use plastics. We make it a strong effort to reduce our carbon footprint through whatever means possible. Although we are not a nonprofit, we make it our priority that one hundred percent of our net proceeds go to various different causes that are not only important to us but to the members of our community and society.

The fact that we are operated entirely by female high school students not only sets us apart from many businesses but also provides many blossoming entrepreneurs perspective into what life working in the business world may look like. The diverse range of students that are a part of Mantra and Co.’s team, ranging from soccer players through theater fanatics, help to provide an objective view of what’s trendy and “in” at the moment. Mantra and Co. is a group of extremely passionate students whose dedication and drive are unmatched. We have no intention of straying away from our ultimate goal of wanting to change the world for the better, which sets us apart from others.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Our team members include Nrithi Subramanian, Mary McCue, Ananya Venkatesh, Charlotte Lassarat, Emma Vandercook, Rishika Aggarwal, Keely Salmon, Lila Banowetz, Maaya Shah, Paige Selby, and Ella Applegate. We also have a team of over 80 Mantra and Co ambassadors who work to promote new products and discount codes.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mary McCue Bell Photography
Gracyn Applegate Photography

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