A Flat Life / Sri Thayi
FOUNDER OF W3 CHOCOLATE
Sri is one of those people who you meet and you have this inkling that you’ve actually known them all your life. She brings such a sweet and sincere energy to the table with a life story to boot.
I had the opportunity to sit with her late last year and we chatted about everything from chocolates, to being a woman of color entrepreneur to, of course, elevator power poses. Scroll onward to understand.
Let’s get right to it then. Sri, where are you from?
I’m from India, I was born in Madras. And I grew up all over the place. My father was in the Navy and so I lived all around in India and all the coastal area in India and then in Germany where my dad was a diplomat.
Wow. How many passports do you have?
Ha, just one.
What do you do for a living & why?
I own a chocolate company called W3 Chocolate. That’s my passion project that I started over a year ago and we actually just launched at Whole Foods in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which I’m so excited about and proud of. For my main hustle, I handle marketing for GT Kombucha and I also do a lot of workshops that uplift and empower women.
What was the inspiration for starting W3 Chocolate?
I was in a business centered on self-love and at the same time I was working as a hypnotherapist. And I realized I needed something more playful & fun for women to really honor themselves and connect with their emotions. And I love food as a medium because food takes you to an emotional state of well-being. When you feel nostalgic or emotional you reach for a certain kind of food. What I wanted to do was reverse how we interact with food and instead of it being a guilty pleasure I wanted it to be a mindful indulgence. So when you reach out for these chocolates it’s a love letter to yourself, of being excited, grounded, balance. Women are so many emotions at once, we’re so layered and this chocolate also takes you back to yourself helping you find your equilibrium.
So you live in Brooklyn now. What made you choose Williamsburg?
I did a mind map of who I was and where would make me happy. And I needed a place that was relaxed so that when I would come home I actually felt like I’m home. I made a list of 20 different places, mind you I didn’t know much about NY, and as soon as I saw this little church, which is right across the street, I knew that this was where I wanted to be.
What is one look that gets you from day to night?
I’m a sucker for tights or rather jeggings. So yeah, I’ll do that all year round. And then my hat. My dad was in the Navy so he wore hats and so of course I wanted to be in the Navy until I learned it was full of patriarchal BS. Then I wanted to be a magician because, again, hats. And then finally I became a healer who loves her hats.
The healer and her magic hats. That’s very you.
Are there any trends you’re excited about?
I’m really excited about bell bottoms & turtlenecks. I’m not sure they’re trending but I love them. I don’t follow trends. I just wear for what makes me feel comfortable. I like to wear what I feel. I go for colors and if I’m doing meditation I wear a lot of neutrals.
How often do you opt for heels vs flats?
I’m super tall and I have big feet so it’s rare for me to find a pair of heels that fit me well.
I mean, you have size 11 feet. They make shoes for you.
That’s true. And I always end up finding my size on sale because rarely anyone has my size feet. But an interesting story is when I was a kid, I had the biggest feet and my dad would go abroad on his sailing trips and he’d come back with lots of shoes. But I would hate shopping for shoes in India because all the vendors would start cursing at me because they’d want to sell you and they realized my feet were too big.
I did feel quite awkward throughout all my life. But then I realized I have really big shoes to fill in this world and that is why I was given big feet.
Oh, I LOVE that.
Thank you! One of my goals though is to create a company called Big Foot. Sexy, comfortable shoes for big-footed women.
We’ll obviously be collaborating on that endeavor.
Yes! And I already know a bunch of leather factories in India and I have friends who are designers. I want to create a space where women with big feet can come feel loved about their feet.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of flats?
In India they have something called kohlapuri chapels and they come in different colors. They’re the local handmade shoes and they’re super easy.
But in NY, I love my Doc Martens.
What do you look for in a shoe?
I look for comfort, durability, and the fact that it can help me with my lifestyle. I feel like when it comes to style, everything you do in NY is making a statement so it doesn’t have to be too fancy. It just has to be thoughtful?
So is there a favorite brand right now?
Right now, it’s the Doc Martens.
Do you believe there is a social stigma when it comes to the perception of women in heels versus flats?
Yes, definitely. When I go to conferences I see these powerful women wearing sexy heels and sometimes even I look at them and feel like they’re looking so sexy.
Does it make you feel intimidated?
No, because I tower over them. But I think it’s so ingrained that wearing high heels equals being sexy and powerful. And I do like being sexy and powerful but at this point you realize we’re torturing our bodies so much for the sake of some pre-historic notion of beauty.
I think it’s interesting because I know so many women who will feel just as empowered walking into a room in a pair of shiny loafers and a tailored pant. But they also know what they bring to the table in terms of their intelligence.
Yes, I think in the end it’s what’s in your head and how you present yourself with your personal confidence.
Do you think if it was women going against women that they would feel the need to wear the heels?
Yeah. I think there are still a huge a segment of women who want to look sexy for each other. For me it’s like ‘Why? It’s just all of us so relax!’
So when you’re wearing a flat or a heel, how long does it take for you to break them in?
It definitely depends on the brand. I still have a problem finding shoes that are comfortable instantly.
Do you know your foot type?
Your have a pretty standard arch but your feet are somewhat wide.
Do you tend to have to size up or down?
Oh yeah, all the time, with flats specifically. But I’m only wearing shoes that are comfortable immediately to be honest.
Do you have a foot care regimen?
I seldom go out for a pedicure unless someone drags me out. I grew up in a very DIY household and find it weird for someone to touch my feet.
When you do get a pedicure what are you go to colors?
Maroon or sparkles
What is your general relationship with your feet?
I grew up not loving them but now, I don’t really think about them. I’m comfortable with them, flaws and all.
Are there any best kept secrets that you have for your foot health/wellness regime that you’d like to share?
Legs scrubs & I use a pumice stone for my feet. I also make my own scrubs for my feet…my mom used to make her own products too. It has turmeric (great for inflammation), a lot of Indian herbs, sandalwood and a few other things.
I’ve been wanting to do toe yoga also!
Wait, we are creating a new trend right here. Toe-Ga (trademark).