“Style is the intersection of what you wear with who you are.”
That is the motto for Sundara, Kym Hilsher’s authentic fashion line inspired by her travels to India. “I wanted the name to have a meaning. Since it started from India, I wanted that in the story,” says Holster. “Sundar means “beautiful” in Hindi. My goal is to make women feel beautiful in what they wear and make them feel happy.”
Sundara has been selected for a prestigious spot at Alpharetta’s European Market on Milton in September. Hilsher also works to make Sundara available to all of Atlanta by traveling to other markets beyond Alpharetta, like Lakewood 400 and Scott’s Market. She even travels to Texas twice a year.
“It is a lot of hard work setting up, breaking down, hauling around like a gypsy, but it came at the perfect time in my life. My kids are gone, and now I am traveling and love what I am doing,” says Hilsher.
The cultural fashionista began visiting India while helping develop smoking cessation clinics. “The first time I went to India, I was in culture shock. I had never seen such living conditions: thatch homes, villages, women working out in the fields in Saris,” says Hilsher. However, she noticed something special. “There was such a sense of contentment and peace that I wish our country could have. The people are happy where they are and with what they have. They are very gracious and want to please.”
Hilsher says she found India’s lifestyle and way of living captivatingly pure and authentic. “Their way of cooking was so cool. I loved the streets of vegetable markets and people selling their wares. The carts are pulled by the workers, ox and yoke or horses…so back in time. Seeing an elephant or camel walking down the road in the middle of traffic is such a sight. I did get the opportunity to ride an elephant down the street and loved it.”
She loves the whole culture of India. “It’s like nowhere else. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to have ever gone there in the first place. I have been fortunate to have had connections with India through different people and their families, from the beginning.”
Hilsher turned her hobby of collecting Indian treasures into a full time job after her husband was laid off. She brought home clothing, accessories, bedding, wraps, handbags and leather from India to sell, transforming Sundara into a successful line that also features her own designs.
She travels to the country 1-2 times a year, staying with an Indian family who are friends and business partners. They bring her creations for Sundara to life with striking fabrics and materials sourced from the hard workers of India. “I just had some simple shift dresses made in vibrant colors. In the works is a tan, organic cotton dress that can be layered,” reveals Hilsher.
Items that she does not design are hand-picked from local artisans. “I do know the people who create the accessories; mainly the jewelry and purse makers. It’s their life and culture to create these things; their families before them and even before them. The people in India are naturally gifted with so much creativity and talent that it is mind blowing,” says Hilsher. “The Indian jewelry has some turquoise color, silver and coral; there is so much variation depending on the trip. I have lots of Indian silver cuffs with turquoise and different stones.”
Every piece is one of a kind, providing customers with something truly special. No matter your shape or size, Sundara has a breathtakingly beautiful piece of Indian culture for you to take home.
Visit Sundara on Facebook or Instagram at @sundarastyle.