Shilpa Sankaran is the founder of KOSA Ayurvedic Spa in Madison, Wisconsin. She spent over a year planning and building out her spa when COVID-19 hit.
In this interview she discusses her experience with change in her life, the curiosity of her clients, and restarting her business.
Navigating change is to me, just a way of life. It’s something that I’ve had to navigate my entire life from immigration to lots of moves. My dad’s having his own business. So change is something I’ve expected. And I think accepting change allows us to navigate it with ease and embrace it with almost a fervent interest in what’s going to happen next, looking for creative ways to adapt. So I think when we don’t accept change, when we’re fearful of it, or when it comes to us at a time when we didn’t want it to happen, that delta between what actually is happening and what we wish was happening is where stress and pain and actual construction can happen in our own ability to adapt and creatively work our way out of it. So to me, that’s probably one of the best ways that I’ve known how to handle change
Speaking about the most profound change, acknowledging that I’ve been through so many career changes that are all correlated with my own internal changes. But the most recent and the most profound for me was going from a venture-funded green construction and design company in San Francisco to opening an Ayurvedic spa in Madison, Wisconsin. And what I realized is, that just giving myself the space to experience why I knew change had to happen. Then I could hear it, there was no choice, but to make the change, I could not stay where I was. I could not continue to abide by the practices that were happening. I couldn’t abide by the lifestyle I was leading anymore and different voices then made themselves more apparent, you know, just having a newborn baby and knowing what that told me. My father’s passing, hearing what that told me, and then just acknowledging that I am not what I was when that thing began and to letting go of that was very difficult.
This was a huge risk for me. It was something I had never done before.
But once you hear what’s happening to you in the moment, it’s not even a letting go anymore. It’s just being happy and acknowledging where you are. And this is all I could do. I didn’t have any other options, not because the world didn’t present other options. I was still doing consulting and sustainability, but I realized I would not be happy with any of those other options. I wouldn’t be giving my heart to any of them and then I wouldn’t be successful. And so this was a huge risk for me. It was something I had never done before. And it took a lot of faith in myself. And the only thing I had to go on was my own passion and realizing that that was the most important thing to make this work for me
There’s a whole process of discovery. That’s required to find your inner voice.
At KOSA my clients typically are people who are already on a journey. They’re curious people. They are looking toward ongoing discovery of themselves typically. And so being an Ayurvedic spa, we’re not just getting people who come in for a massage and leave just to feel good. There’s a whole process of discovery. That’s required to find your inner voice. That is what people are attracted to and what they’re finding. Bringing themselves closer to their inner voices is what is bringing them closer to their own health and their own connection to the universe and to other people.
I love the question “What’s next for me?” because it implies that there is something along the horizon for all of us and we’re living in a crazy time right now where we don’t even know what’s happening from day to day. And so it’s an accelerated, um, adaptation that we have to make to our current circumstances, which means something is next for everybody. And for me, in particular, again, I’ve always anticipated that things would change in my life and anticipating that allows for open and creative thinking. And in some ways, just always having plan B, C and D available.
I love the question “What’s next for me?” because it implies that there is something along the horizon for all of us.
For us right now, it’s getting the business back up and running. But simultaneously I’m launching a body care product company that stemmed from the work that we’re doing here. We knew that there was a need for it because we couldn’t find the products here. And we realized we were passionate about creating them for ourselves. And that there’s so much that we can offer by doing that. So we’ll be launching the body care product company and expanding KOSA kitchens.
Shilpa Sankran is the founder of KOSA Ayurvedic Spa