Her Gemstones Help People Connect With Their Spirituality and the Earth

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It’s never too late to change the course of your life and start anew — that’s what Christine Fowle did. At the age of 40, this Girl Scout alum decided to leave her career in the hotel industry to travel through Southeast Asia for five months. That trip turned into a three-year adventure through India and Nepal and inspired her to open a yoga studio in the U.S. After that, she created her first global business venture, MatrikaMala, a company that designs mala necklaces using sustainable practices.

In many Indian religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, mala beads are traditionally used to count mantra recitations (japa). They are typically worn over the third finger of your right hand, with the tassel pointing toward you, and each of the beads are gently touched while a mantra is repeated until the guru bead at the end is reached.

“MatrikaMala is a purpose-driven company that creates fair trade mala necklaces designed to support people in their spiritual practice,” the Girl Scout alum tells CircleAround. “Our pieces are made individually using responsibly sourced elements, and we make every effort to use fair trade, organic, and biodegradable materials with a transparent history.”

Fowle knew there were a lot of cheap knockoff malas on the market, made of environmentally hazardous materials like plastic, or sourced in unethical ways. “In the creation of this company there were two aspects of sourcing that we required: transparency and environmental protection,” she explains. Using sustainable practices is better for people and the earth. “Just as I learned while camping with the Girl Scouts to 'leave no trace,' it's our goal as a business to leave no trace,” she tells CircleAround. 

"Using sustainable practices is better for people and the earth. “Just as I learned while camping with the Girl Scouts to 'leave no trace,' it's our goal as a business to leave no trace,” she tells CircleAround."

 

MatrikaMala offers a variety of products designed in the traditional 108-bead form, as well as the 216-bead chakra version, and use fair trade gemstones like crystal quartz and rudraksha seeds. “Using only organic and plant-based beading string and rudraksha seeds to complement our fair trade gemstone beads is a start, and we have long-term plans to move away from using elements that are considered finite resources,” she adds. “However, our short-term objective is to make a soft yet strong statement with our offerings.”

While many are moving toward more holistic practices, there is still much work to be done across industries where natural products originate. Fowle explains, “The demand for crystals and gemstones within the growing wellness industry has set a price on 'conventionally' mined materials and made acceptable the human and environmental degradation that comes with it.” 

“Industrywide ambiguity surrounding gemstone sourcing is the norm,” she continues. “Even when origins are provided, there's no disclosure as to how the resources have been taken from the earth or how the gemstone miners are treated.” 

Through her Mala GiveBack Program, customers are encouraged to drop off or mail in broken or preloved gemstones and/or malas (from any company). MatrikaMala repurposes these materials into upcycled malas or other products. Customers receive a 15 percent discount on a future purchase, and 50 percent of the profits from these types of malas are donated to local nonprofit community organizations.

Fowle’s malas, made with cruelty-free, fair trade elements, are a sign of changing times. “The essence of the company is our vision of using our presence as a force for good,” she states. “We are continuously looking for ways to lessen our impact on the planet.”

She is continually inspired by individuals and companies striving to make a difference in the world, in her industry, and beyond. “Knowing that there are people who care deeply for the planet, and use this as their guiding principle, makes it possible to celebrate entrepreneurs making a positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment,” she states. “I am continually humbled and honored to work alongside millions of others who are engaged in healing the planet.”

Tags: Environment, Girl Scout, Sustainability, Entrepreneur

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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