Guru is using upcycled saris to revolutionize women’s fashion in a uniquely beautiful way.
Kathryn Boese founded Guru two decades ago, in 2001, with the desire to create sustainable apparel for women and support independent boutiques. Collaborating with local artisans in Rajasthan (India) from design to production, Guru is a 100% sustainable clothing brand creating high-quality fashion with a bohemian flare.
Boese barters in Indian villages to collect high quality Rasgulla saris that are beautifully re-fashioned into dresses, skirts, pants, jumpsuits, tunics, scarves and much more. Each clothing piece showcases the unique beauty of the saris, through the vibrant colours, patterns and designs.
“Because Guru’s upcycled saris have such an amazing history, they may also have minor imperfections that are camouflaged in the beauty of each exquisite piece. These type of petite flaws should be embraced, much like someone’s own personal flaws. Because nothing and no one is perfect,” said Kathryn Boese.
What’s the founding story behind Guru? What inspired the idea and how did it all come to be?
I dreamed of going to India since I was a teenager. I loved the extraordinariness of all India had to offer. All the colours, fabrics and people. Twenty years later when I finally made my trip I went with the intention make clothing to fit Canadian women.
Why did you decide on the name Guru?
I loved the sound of Guru. The word means ‘teacher’ and it has such value in Indian culture.
What’s the mission and vision?
The mission is to grow as a sustainable brand and capture some of the market share of the brands that are harming the environment, as well as raise awareness on how people can do better in their purchasing process.
How do you source your apparel and where is it designed + made? What criteria do you follow when selecting the pieces?
Our team in India barters with women in local villages, exchanging every day essentials for their previously loved saris. The styles are designed by myself here in Oakville, Ontario and the production is done in India where they understand how to cut and sew with saris.
The selection process of the saris is probably one of the most challenging, time consuming parts of my work. It takes hours of reviewing photos of saris and selecting prints that I believe my customers will enjoy. The production team then has to work magic in production with the pattern placement, which they do phenomenally well!
What’s some great feedback you have received from happy customers?
Customers who buy from us directly will just about always tell us that the product is even more beautiful in person. Wholesale accounts feel the same way and love unboxing our shipments.
What have been your most memorable moment(s) along the Guru journey so far?
Seeing the movement towards sustainability grow over the past couple of years has probably been the most memorable!
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur and small business owner?
I love working with people and seeing my customers recognize the value of what I am offering as a brand.
Future plans for Guru?
We are working on some big things for Guru and expanding our collection to another sustainable textile that can be composted.