A Progressive Vibe
Tony and Gayatri Malmed met and fell in love on the road in Afghanistan in 1970. The pair later traveled into India and lived in an ashram, and that's where Tony learned traditional methods of Indian jewelry-making. The couple later discovered Santa Fe while visiting friends, where the eclectic atmosphere was immediately arresting: "It was funky and creative and comfortable," says Gayatri. Santa Fe was, adds Tony, "progressive and regressive at the same time, and it still is."
The funky and comfortable vibe that they feel in Santa Fe is reflected in their store, Spirit of the Earth. The roomy space (by downtown standards) is awash in the rich desert reds and river-rock blues of the clothes they buy at markets around the country. Tony's jewelry occupies center stage in a display case where his passion for turquoise stones is evident.
They began working for the former owners of the store, which was then in the Inn at Loretto, in 1982. Tony created jewelry, and they both had a brief stint making clothing.
Their creations were so popular that the shop was theirs a year later. And they soon discovered that a great working relationship was theirs as well: "It just seemed normal," says Gayatri.
For the Malmeds, Spirit of the Earth is not simply one more boutique near the Plaza; it is also a path toward creating positive change. Says Tony, "I realized that putting beauty into the world is important." He considers the Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry, whom Tony heard speak in Santa Fe last summer, emblematic of that power of beauty he seeks to embrace in his own situation: "Not only was everyone's economic situation better [in Bilbao], but everyone was more happy and peaceful."
The Malmeds hope to extend that attitude to Santa Fe through Spirit of the Earth, where, adds Tony, "art is its own reward."
108 Don Gaspar Avenue, 505-988-9558