The business of TaraShakti is to produce high quality stunning ski suits – but that’s not our purpose. We exist to build confidence, connection, and community. We want to celebrate and uplift our shared humanity.
For every suit we sell, TaraShakti allocates $50 for the Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment and the Northwest Sherpa Association.
The idea for TaraShakti sprang from founder Tara Clark’s annual ski trip to Whistler with beloved friends. When Holly, who had been living with brain cancer for the last year, asked them all to wear one-piece ski suits, Tara sought out onesies not because they were fashionably retro (which they are) or amazingly comfortable (so comfy!), but because when your friends ask you to show up, you do.
Here’s the thing about cancer: anybody can get it and we know this, but don’t want to believe it. Among Tara’s friends, Holly was the second person diagnosed with a brain tumor. Stacey was the first.
When Holly received her scary, unfathomable diagnosis, she went straight to Stacey, asking “I don’t know anything about brain tumors and all I can do is Google to find information. I know you know brain cancer – what can I do?”
Stacey handed her the phone number for Dr. Greg Foltz, founder of the Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment, whom she had met at a conference. Dr. Foltz specialized in primary brain tumors which Holly had and Stacey didn’t; hers was a secondary tumor.
In that moment and magical connection, Stacey unknowingly gifted Holly with years of life. Holly's initial prognosis was a life expectancy of one to five years with one year being a more realistic outcome. Dr. Foltz reviewed Holly’s scans and immediately operated. The outcome was positive.
Sadly, soon after, Stacey took a turn for the worse and Dr. Foltz was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They passed away within weeks of each other.
The research and treatment protocols Dr. Foltz started continues under the brilliant leadership of new Ivy Center director, Dr. Charles Cobb. He is making valuable inroads in cancer that will continue to change and extend the life expectancy of primary brain tumor patients. Holly remains under his care.
To learn more about primary brain tumors and the work of the Ivy Center, please visit their website.
Tara’s travels have taken her across the globe and her desire for human connectivity has led her to meaningful connections and relationships with neighbors as near as next door and villagers as far away as South Sudan, Haiti, and Laos (and so many in between!).
One night here in Seattle, arriving at a friend’s party, self-described extrovert Tara unexpectedly didn’t feel like talking or dancing. She hung back, deciding to be a wallflower until she felt up to socializing. After a few minutes of watching the crowd, she realized she had a companion on the wall – Phurba Dikee Sherpa. They introduced themselves, connected as mothers (Tara of young kids, Phurba of teens and college students) sharing stories of their lived experiences in Seattle and their hometowns.
Phurba and her husband Lapka Rita Sherpa were born and raised in the Himalayan mountain village of Thame, Nepal. Westerners generally refer to mountain porters as “Sherpa,” but many are not aware that the Sherpa are an ethnic group that migrated to Nepal from Eastern Tibet many centuries ago and that every person’s surname in this ethnic group is Sherpa. Phurba and Lapka moved their family to America to further Lapka’s career as a mountaineering guide.
Tara, who was born and raised in Salem, OR felt her stories were less interesting but Phurba listened with curiosity. Throughout her life and travels, Tara has seen time and again that people tend to focus on each other’s differences and more often than not, allow those differences to keep them separate. When we connect with the people around us and listen without judgment, when we show up as who we really are – not whom we think we should be – the world opens up.
Tara and Phurba started a friendship, taking walks and exchanging stories about family and life as women and mothers. Although they were from very different backgrounds, they both drew strength, laughter, and understanding from their friendship. And because of this friendship, Tara fell in love with Sherpa Adventure Gear, a clothing company whose first and most prominent brand ambassador was Lakpa.
Years later, after Tara had been kicking around the idea of making one-piece ski suits, she found the courage to call the Seattle-based founder of Sherpa Adventure Gear, Tashi Tsering Sherpa. Tashi is also the founder and owner of Kangri Sourcing, a private label manufacturing company. With encouragement from Phurba and Lapka, Tara shared with Tashi her dream of creating one-piece ski suits.
And, now that you are on the TaraShakti page, you know that this dream came true (read more on how the suits came to be our About page)!
Tashi taught Tara that her name means “star” in Sanskrit and that the goddess Tara is one of the most powerful female deities in Buddhism, one that encourages women to attain enlightenment and spiritual fulfillment.
Tara’s friendship with Phurba Dikee and Lapka Rita Sherpa has opened her eyes to the challenges faced by the Sherpa people to retain their language, culture, and traditions in a rapidly changing world. Without their help and support, TaraShakti might still be just a dream.
At TaraShakti, we believe in connection, authenticity, and taking risks (physical, emotional, spiritual). We honor the origins of our friendships and connections.
We invite you to learn about the Northwest Sherpa Association by visiting their website.