Who's That Gal: Caroline Mauro of INDA Creations
Name: Caroline Mauro
Occupation: Fashion Stylist/Owner + Maker, INDA Creations
Hometown: Narragansett, Rhode Island
Current ‘hood: South End (home base), Stockbridge VT, Santa Monica + Beyond!
Favorite summer activity: Stand-up paddle boarding
Currently reading: Ayurvedic Beauty Care.; Journey to the Heart by Melody Beady is my go-to read for daily inspiration, too!
How did you get your start in the fashion/style arena?
I first started styling at local magazines when I was in college in Rhode Island. As an intern, I told the editors I wanted to take a stab at styling my own shoots and they agreed (this meant pulling clothes from local boutiques and styling product or on-model shoots). At the same time, I was lucky to have a great mentor named Serena who gave me tips on how to get into the industry and used me as an assistant on shoots from time to time. I tried to style in Boston after I graduated in '08 but it was during the recession and jobs were extremely scarce. I moved to NYC hoping job prospects would improve and cocktail waitressed at night while interning for free during the day for various PR agencies, temp agencies and eventually assisting stylists to get my foot in the door. My first job as an assistant stylist was working in the wardrobe department on the makeover show, What Not To Wear. After that job, I assisted several other stylists and worked on jobs in varied photoshoots in television, print, music, etc. and then began styling full time.
After a decade of styling and big city hustling, I became burnt out and was seeking more meaning behind the creative work I was doing. I also was going through a challenging time in my life after losing my best friend...and then my new purpose and calling showed itself to me. I asked my friend and the universe for a sign and some guidance. What appeared next on a hike in the woods of Vermont was a small charm that was the exact design of the tattoo he had on his back. I strung it on my neck and it immediately gave me solace and helped me heal but most of all, it gave me purpose - to create + share healing products with the universe. This brand is something I lived and then created for people to help them search within and heal. It's about finding darkness in light. Its about drawing strength from nature to explore and heal. It's about learning to move through the hard times without the numbing techniques that our society is so quick to encourage. I choose to offer alternative healing modalities that rely on the holistic healing approach so we can treat ourselves through products inspired by nature and plants.
With so much chaos in today’s world, I think it’s helpful for people to have something that they believe in, that promotes health, wellness and balance and that's why I wanted to create INDA, to share this idea with others. I hope the intentional products I create and sell inspire others on their personal journeys of healing and encourage us all to connect with mother earth.
Where did the name INDA come from? Who is the gal with a “gypsy soul?” (from insta profile)
INDA derives from the slang word“Indo” - a common 90’s buzzword present in many songs as nickname to the cannabis plant. I liked how much more feminine and mystical INDA sounded. Given that I created the pipe necklace in part to speak to the female experience with cannabis, it felt only natural to choose name that represents us.
“Enchanted armor for the gypsy soul” stands for the INDA girl or INDA Queen (as I like to call her) in all of us. She’s a free-thinker, a spitfire, a rulebreaker, a dreamer and a do-er, a wanderer, a lover, she’s inspired, rebellious, tenacious, a true INDAvidual. She’s a wild soul with an open heart, rooted in nature and connected to the earth.
What do you find to be the most inspirational source for you as a designer?
Stories from customers about how their INDA products have helped them on their personal journeys towards healing is my biggest daily inspiration. Someone shared with me that their grandmother was grieving over the loss of her sister who had suddenly passed away but through wearing one the crystal necklaces I created, she was able to move through her grief faster and elevated her feelings of hope and helped and advance her healing process. Another customer shared with me that she and her fellow Reiki practitioners regularly wear their INDA necklaces to protect themselves when treating patients who have experience heavy trauma. Sometimes the moving energy gets intense for them and the stones have helped them feel more protected and grounded. They also use the stones with the patients to help them feel soothed. I have heard such positive feedback that the hemp honey has helped with anxiety, sleep, cramps, etc. These positive stories inspire me to stay on my new path and continue to create products that help others.
The people in cannabis who are fighting for this plant also inspire me. The past advocates and heroes in this space that have paved the way for the new players inspire me. The brave survivors and patients that are choosing to medicate holistically and face an uphill battle every day to just simply have access to this healing plant for treatment inspire me. The growers that are risking it all and the brands that are taking a stand and coming out….all of the people fighting against the stigma of the plant inspire me. I believe we should not feel like criminals because of our use of the cannabis plant. It’s inspiring to work in the ever-changing forefront of this new space surrounded by passionate people.
We know you’re big on travel! Tell us about your favorite trip to date.
Spending time in Nicaragua prior to the launch of my brand was alway integral to the development of INDA. Allowing myself time and space to get inspired living off the grid in the “beach jungle” was crucial for me in a time of transition. Unplugging was not a choice but rather a way of life there and my life was ruled by nature, the tides, the moonlight, the howler monkeys who woke me up at 8am. It was such an important and invaluable lesson for me to stop and listen to our planet and her creatures, appreciate her greatness, be mindful for her and bask in her glory. I met friends of all ages who took care of me, showed us how to live and opened their hearts to me at a very special beach and micro community I stumbled upon. Forever grateful for the kind locals who never stopped smiling despite their misfortunes, the wanderers + the creatives who provided endless inspiration, and the expats who settled there, who have chosen to live life differently and helped teach me the NICA way. It was so beautiful to see how simply and resourcefully they lived yet how happy they were. I was totally blown away by it all and am forever grateful for the rawness, perspective, vulnerability and love the place brought into my life and heart.
Spending time in Vermont (on the farm where my herbs and flowers are grown and harvested) has taught me so much too. Vermont made me realize how important it is to live simply, consciously and thoughtfully. Many times we sleep in the living room by the wood burning stoves on mattresses, take long night hikes, spend time with the goats and chickens doing rounds and showering outdoors. When living on the farm last summer, I became so much more connected with nature and growing, cultivating plants, herbs and flower.
We love the colliding worlds in this design. How did you think this up?
I am a heavy believer that the cannabis plant has the power to heal and in turn, I believe in conscious consumption. I saw a huge hole in the market when researching elevated products to support this. I wanted to design something that people could use and enjoy when consuming but was discrete. Most of the products I saw were targeted to male consumers, lacked sophistication and catered to males, stoners or industry experts only. How was it that 40% of cannabis users are female but there were hardly any products that spoke to females? We were unrecognized and underserved. I wanted to solve this problem by creating a functional, fashionable product that supported women in their every day use. I did design the pipe necklace to be unisex so it can speak to both genders who are seeking a more elevated cannabis experience.
What do you find to be the strongest connection between the earth and wellness?
To me, Earth IS wellness - the two are completely symbiotic. When we are connected to the earth, we are well and our planet is well. I believe that establishing or our connectedness to mother earth can restore our health and lead us to live happier, healthier lives. Making more conscious lifestyle choices from the the products we use on our faces and bodies to the food that we eat, has a profound impact on how “well” we are feeling and healthy we are living. If we choose products that use only holistic and derived from nature, purchase product that offer fair trade practices + non plastic packaging, support brands that give back to Mother Earth, etc. we will take care of the earth and the earth will in turn, take care of us and keep us well.
Why did you choose Boston as the home of your brand?
Boston has served as more of a home base for me since the inception of INDA. I lived in Boston working at Ruelala as an in house stylist and transitioned out of that role to do some travel for a year. I came back and needed to find grounding while making trips to the farm in VT to work on production and the build out of my products. Boston was the perfect place because I could easily get to VT or hop in the car and get inspiration by the sea, but also still take freelance clients in the city as needed. SOWA Boston was really great to me my first year and was a great market for me to launch my brand and spread the word in my first year.
How do you think your style emulates your vision? Do you think it will influence the style of Bostonians?
I dress very comfortable (because I am always running around on shops for styling to markets for INDA), free spirited, bohemian and of course things that travel well (because of my lifestyle). I use a term "gypsy layers" to describe most of the top layers of my wardrobe (usually flowy, hand dyed, easy breezy knits and wraps pieces). I am usually in all black or super bright funky prints (nothing in between). When not in bohemian clothes, I dress for comfort because of the fast paced run around of the photo shoots I style and this has translated into my every day style choices. My style on those days tends to skew more urban/androgynous/sports swear inspired since I need to be in sneakers or flats (which also makes me a bit of a tomb boy :) ). Because of this, you will rarely find me in any sort of high heels or dresses unless of course, I have a wedding or dressy event. I live in pants, harem pants, printed pants, really any kind of pants!
I think we are seeing more and more stores and brands pop up that are choosing to break away from the traditional preppy look that we see so often here in New England. Things are getting edgier and funkier in Boston and I hope to be a part of that influence! The more eccentric, the better, in my opinion.
What is your favorite mantra that you try to live by?
I am now in the rhythm, order, and flow of the Universe.
Come meet Caroline at Ladies Lounge: Style Made in Boston! Tomorrow evening, at GA Boston.