Perched along the idyllic tree-lined East 9th St, sits Katinka, the wildly eclectic clothing store/jewelry shop/home decor boutique that’s become a fixture in the East Village ever since its opening, 42 years ago.
Katinka is the city’s closest representation of “nirvana,” according to one Yelp reviewer, who continued to praise the intricately designed dresses, tops, shoes, bedspreads and pillows that envelop the store— calling the mix of color and texture, “a feast for the eyes.”
These vibrant, hand-crafted goods are what makes this small business so distinguishable from its competitors. Store owners and life partners Billy Lyles and Jane Williams, have been promoting small artisans from India since they began traveling there over 40 years ago, and have since started a nonprofit organization called The Laksh Foundation, in conjunction with Katinka.
“For the last 14 years, I have been working with a self-empowerment project teaching and producing products to sell in my store, and in craft markets in India,” said Williams. “I travel to India twice a year, paying my own plane fare and volunteering my design services and supplies to educate about 40 to 50 women in the village of Mangar, New Delhi, India.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic’s long-lasting effects have finally caught up with Katinka, and as a result, Lyles and Williams have created a GoFundMe page where individuals can donate and give support to ensure the store’s ongoing survival.
“Since the Covid crisis we have been hard hit, as many others,” said Williams, “we need funds to keep our store and project going.”
All donations will go directly to the store and The Lakshma Foundation, and be allocated to where it is needed the most, including: to the continuation of their sewing cooperative, the education of roughly 1,000 Indian children in one of their several tutoring centers in the area, as well as fair payment to the women who sew patchwork and embroidery for the foundation.
“How I love this place,” stated a Katinka customer. “So crammed full of exotic handmade items from Jane’s travels to India, it is an absolutely superb gift shop and true East Village treasure.”