Bazaar Babe ~ Kunti Benson
Kunti Benson is a woman of many talents. She’s a charity worker, co-founder of Lahana Active and also a yoga teacher. She’s a gentle soul with a fierce ‘you can do anything’ attitude. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Kunti since high school. She comes from a big family of creative minds abundant with artists and designers. I spent the morning at Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, home to her Thryft shop on the Gold Coast, finding out what’s next for this superwoman.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what excites you?
My name is Kunti. I am named after the Indian queen from the Mahabharat. I grew up as Hare Krishna, in a family of nine, in a small town called Milton on top of a hill. It’s here we watched our parents conjure up and create their own reality. I watched my father paint in his studio, tend to his garden and practise devotion. I watched my mother love and care for every single person that can came into our lives.
In my adult life I am constantly trying to take a little of my father and mother's magic and inject it onto all my projects I have going on. At the moment these include teaching yoga at Boheme & Body, managing the creative marketing department at Lahana Swim, setting up Lahana Active alongside my sisters and working the charity life with our three op-shops across Australia that support my partner Ryan's organisation, Pay a Sack Forward.
As you can probably tell, a lot excites me. Being able to pursue everything that I love and create my own reality, just like my parents did, I think that's what excites me the most!
Kunti wears a sample of our Jupiter dress in Lovechild, launching June 20.
You’re a woman of many talents! What inspires your creativity and determination?
I am a very visual person. I love colour, texture, line, movement, mood and tone. I’m inspired by how when we put these elements together in a certain way that we create a narrative, tell a story, form an identity and can conjure emotion. This is so magical to me and I constantly love rearranging these elements to create something new and exciting.
I guess I’ve always been a very independent person and think this has created my drive. Once I set my mind to a task its important for me mentally to give it everything I have.
You’re involved in the ‘pay a sack forward’ and ‘Thryft GC’ charity. Can you tell us about these projects and how you became part of the team?
I met my partner when I was living in St Kilda in Melbourne. I was in my last year of uni studying International Aid and Community Development. I ended up doing my practical assessment at his community space and charity hub, which was formally called ‘The Courtyard’ and is now ‘Thryft’ Op Shop.
We ended up dating and so I hung around and got more involved with the space. I actually ended up putting up a rack of clothes in the space to test out Ryan’s idea of starting an Op Shop. It kind of just snowballed from there and became this very unique space that we have now brought up to the Gold Coast.
Your partner Ryan created ‘pay a sack forward’ and together you created Thryft. What were you both inspired by when creating this charity?
Pay a Sack Forward is the head organisation that the shops support that assists people living on or below the poverty line and who or have experienced homelessness. It was created by Ryan from simply seeing the quality life of local residents in his area, inspiring him to act and assist in the best way he knew how.
We see the supporting op shops as just that, opportunity shops for EVERYONE. Everything in Thryft is $5, which not only aligns to the cost of a 'Survival Sack’ provided by the charity, but it is an accessible price point for everyone.
We wanted to create an Op Shop that was different to the rest. We encourage people to know what they are donating, we ask for quality donations that we can pass onto our amazing thryfters.
Is charity work something you have always been interested in?
Yeah it has always been a passion of mine. I studied it at Uni and it’s something that I saw myself moving into full time. But life has a way of taking you where you are meant to go and now I have the amazing opportunity to work alongside Ryan and his work, but also to bring charitable initiatives into other area's of my work.
I recently created a campaign for Lahana where 30% of profits sold from a product launch support the organisation The Global Women’s Project. It’s something that I hope will always be part of what I do.
What can we do if we want to help out?
We are always in need of amazing quality donations! You can reach out to us @thryft_gc if you have a donation or bring it into the store located at Mo’s Desert Club House.
You can also get involved with our bi-monthly Desert Digs market and sell your second hand clothes directly there on the day. It’s only $25 for a stall and if you like, anything you don’t sell Thryft will happily take it off your hands.
You can volunteer in store, which can be super fun on the nights we open when Mo’s has live music on! And of course, you can donate directly to the charity through the Pay A Sack Forward website (www.payasackforward.com)
You also work for the brand Lahana and are one of the co founders of Lahana Active. Can you tell us a little about Lahana and what your role is?
Lahana Swim was created by my two talented sisters Ramana and Vrindy and I work as the creative marketing manager there. When we moved up the coast from Melbourne I was running my own active wear label called Dulari. I started to get more and more involved with Lahana and felt like I could no longer juggle so many different jobs, so Lahana bought Dulari off me and we re-opened it together as Lahana Active!
It’s so amazing that I get to work alongside my sisters. We make a solid little team and are all so different with what we bring to the table. It’s a mixing pot of different traits that make us work so closely and successfully alongside each other. I feel very grateful for these ladies in my life!
What was your inspiration when creating Lahana Active?
I have always loved clothes, making them, wearing them, selling them. When I became a yoga teacher I spent a lot of time in lycra and felt like there was room in the market for something more unique. Taking that essence from Dulari, we wanted to create something really unique in our active wear. We love bold prints and colours paired with tested and tried quality of my former label.
You come from a big family that I have the pleasure of knowing and you work alongside your siblings at Lahana. What’s it like working with family?
It’s honestly a joy, I love them all so much individually. They are all so talented and unique and doing some super creative things, within Lahana and outside of Lahana. We are all so close and work so well together, I think we are just super supportive of each other. My parents have always encouraged us to pursue what ever we wanted to be or do, take risks and work hard for what you want to achieve! We are immensely blessed to be doing it alongside each other!
Kunti wears our Almost Famous blouse in apricot
Not only do you have these two projects but you’re also a yoga teacher. How and when did your love for yoga begin?
I have always had yoga in my life in some shape or form because of my upbringing with the Hare's. However that real love and discovery came in my early twenties, in my little cabin house living in the hills of Mullumbimby. It just kind of took me and there was no going back. It made such a profound impact and shift in the way I thought and lived my life, that I knew almost right away that this is something I wanted to facilitate for others!
You did some of your yoga teacher training in India. What was this experience like? And what was one lesson or insight you took home with you?
I spent six months in India and Nepal studying Yoga. It was one of the happiest, most joyful experiences of my life. It was like cracking open a nut and letting out only pure sunshine.
It’s hard to put down what I learnt in a few short words, but what it taught me was don’t leave the breath behind, consciously ground into the experience of the body, and this Sanskrit phrase that was and continues, to be profound for me that I came across when I was in India: Tat Tvam Asi, meaning you are that or that you are or you are it. We are simply the universe experiencing itself, that is so wild and beautiful to me!
In your opinion what is the importance of yoga in everyday life? And what does it mean to you?
Life is in constant flux, it's easy to become swept up, tussled, swayed by the ups and downs of our shifting reality. Yoga teaches you to be the mountain amongst the storm, unwavering in your steadiness and ease amongst it all. It reminds you, quite simply, to stay grounded, present, mindful and conscious! It’s the tool I use to understand myself, others and the environment around me.
Because you have such a busy lifestyle with so many projects do you find yoga is your anchor that helps you stay calm? And how else does yoga benefit you personally?
100%, yoga is not only the one hour you might spend on your mat a day. It’s living and breathing in every action and breath you take. That hour is what prepares you to take all those lessons off the mat and into your everyday life. I am calm and steady and consistent and anchored because of this practise and I am so grateful for that! SO grateful!
What’s next for Kunti Benson?
Oh holy smokes, maybe a holiday! But honestly I’m truly loving where I am at in life now, so more of what is already filling my life up with so much goodness!! All I can hope for is to continue to have so many amazing people in my life that inspire me (my partner Ryan!! my family!! my friends!!) and continue to always move into and through what ever life delivers my way.
To lend a hand check out Pay A Sack Forward
For some bargain op shop treasures check out Thyrft
Gold Coast: Thyrft GC
Brisbane: Studio Thifty4
For activewear to look and feel good in check out Lahana Active
For a yoga class to soothe the soul check out Boheme and Body