From a young age, Shantell Harpster — founder and designer of Shanti Sutra — was encouraged to use her love for art to make a future for herself. Shanti Sutra is a handcrafted, sustainable apparel line carefully designed and crafted with the use of organic cotton and hemp textiles to ensure each piece is lasting, unique and great for all body types. “Shanti Sutra designs are original and well thought out,” explained Harpster. “Our goal is to empower all body types, genders and styles to freely express themselves with confidence.”
The Mile High City is a great source of inspiration for Harpster as she can find something eclectic wherever she is.
“I find inspiration around every corner and with all walks of life. What inspires me most are the incredibly hard-working and passionate artists that constantly push me to work harder and do better myself. I feel supported here and the more support I get, the better I want my company to provide for the community. It really is a reflection of everyone chasing their dreams that enables me to have confidence to go after mine,” Harpster explained.
We recently met up with Harpster to hear more about what it means to be one of Denver’s few slow fashion clothing brands.
303 Magazine: First, tell us a little about yourself.
Shantell Harpster: I am the creator, owner and designer for Shanti Sutra. My roots are in Idaho but I grew up in South Dakota. I have a very artistic grandfather who inspired me from an early age that art was an honorable profession to strive for. I enjoy music, art, traveling and living a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle.
303: How did your background and education ultimately get you into the field as an art entrepreneur today?
SH: After high school, I traveled quite a bit where I met my friend and mentor, Kelley Bennett. She was a full-time seamstress at the time (2011) and taught me the basics of sewing. From there on, my skill set continued to broaden. I was part of a collaborative business called Family of Light Designs. However, I eventually split off with a desire to create a brand of my own.
303: How did you come up with the name Shanti Sutra? How long has it been in business?
SH: The name Shanti Sutra stems from a few different meanings. Shanti was a nickname that I procured which also means “mindful,” and Sutra means “thread.” These words coalesce what I as a business provide for my community. We are a slow fashion business that utilizes organic hemp and cotton textiles. We also use low impact dyes, which causes the creation and wear to be a truly mindful experience. Shanti Sutra was established in 2012 as a branch of an artist collective called Family of Light designs. It eventually became its own business as I stepped away to do a clothing line of my own.
303: In your opinion, why is organic clothing important? What is your process to make organic clothing?
SH: In a chemical filled world, it is very important to cover your body with conscious, organic and natural clothing. Your skin is the largest organ and deserves to be treated well. This, of course, includes the rest of the body as well. We create an organic hemp product that we hand-dye with fiber reactive dyes. We feel the beauty of these dyes show in their low-impact nature. Shanti Sutra hopes that in creating these environmentally sound products our customers will be able to take pride in knowing they purchased an exceptional item, one that is truly one-of-a-kind for their body.
303: Can you explain the concept of “slow fashion?”
SH: Slow fashion is an act of awareness. It aims to produce a quality, yet sustainable product. Slow fashion emphasizes a clean production that does the least amount of harm to the planet but still focuses on accessible prices for consumers. It enables our customers to deeply connect with the community and use their money mindfully by buying locally from a small business owner.
303: How does Shanti Sutra apparel stand out in a crowd?
SH: Shanti Sutra designs are original and well thought out. Our goal is to empower all body types, genders and styles to freely express themselves with confidence. Each piece is made with love and built to last. All our collections are incredibly versatile and interchangeable as well, so the pairing options are endless. Each piece is stylish, classic and timeless.
Our goal is to create super comfortable garments that beautifully grab the body, flattering for all body types. The versatility goes beyond just the style as our pieces can be worn on a hike and then immediately transitioned to a night out on the town — never sacrificing comfort or style. Our customers are sure to stand out with the grace and ease that they are able to wear our garments. We want everyone to feel exceptional in their body.
303: What is/are your long-term goal(s) for this brand?
SH: I would love to have a storefront of my own in the future with a studio attached in the back — a place that is transparent about the work we do and provides a comfortable environment for customers to enjoy. I believe the storefront will allow us to cultivate our brand further.
All Photography by Alexandra Osten.