Tucked away in a plaza off Sunnyvale’s Lawrence Expressway is the Maitri Boutique (1214 Apollo Way #401). Inside the store is an array of dress-up items reflecting the festive and colorful styles of the South Asian wardrobe. The merchandise here is priced fairly. For example, the price for a new saree, a garment that drapes around the body, begins at $10.
Profits from the Maitri Boutique go toward Maitri, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been assisting victims of domestic violence since 1991. Both women and men can receive services from Maitri. In Hindi, “maitri” means friendship.
“We take donations of new or gently used South Asian party wear from the community,” said Abha Singhvi, Board Member of the Maitri organization. “We carry South Asian party wear that can be sarees, lehenga (big skirts), salwar suits (Indian pant suits) and bridal wear. We also carry kids’ clothes and men’s South Asian party wear, such as the sherwani (long ornate formal shirts) and Indian pantsuits. We carry accessories — jewelry, handbags, shoes, all of it. From time to time, we partner with community designers and we do jewelry and clothing trunk shows and art exhibitions.”
According to Singhvi, the Maitri Boutique has been around for four years. The store’s net proceeds fund Maitri’s Economic Empowerment Program, which supports clients through their journey to find employment.
“Any of our clients who need work experience can work here. It provides a good training ground for them because it builds their confidence,” Singhvi said. “The store is a great outreach space for Maitri because a lot of people learn about Maitri through the Maitri Boutique.”
Maitri’s logo features three characters. The first character is a figure curled up on the ground. The middle character shows the figure getting up. The final character reveals a figure standing tall on their own.
“Our tagline is ‘helping women help themselves,’” Singhvi said. “It’s a holistic approach. We help with their legal needs, counseling needs, housing needs and their economic empowerment so they can be self-sustaining and independent.”
Nandini Ray, Manager of Outreach and Prevention at Maitri, added to Singhvi’s description about Maitri’s function.
“Our goal is crisis intervention as well as prevention of domestic violence,” Ray said. “We will continue to provide help to empower survivors of domestic violence and abuse so they can break the cycle of abuse and lead a life of safety and human dignity with self-assurance…We do not turn anybody away, but as our volunteers speak many South Asian languages, and our programs are designed to help South Asians, we find our resources best spent helping South Asian people.”
During an injury or emergency, one should call 9-1-1. According to Maitri’s website, its helpline is a person’s first point of contact with the organization for someone who is experiencing domestic violence. Maitri’s toll-free helpline is 1 (888) 862-4874 (1-888-8MAITRI). The website instructs: “To speak with someone, call between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays; otherwise, please leave a detailed message along with a safe phone number and safe time to reach you.”