Martina Sestakova: Owner, RADOST

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My Native Admission Statement: Hello! My name is Martina Sestakova and I am the owner at RADOST, company based in Kensington, Maryland. What does RADOST mean? It’s the Czech word for JOY, my favorite English expression. I explore three areas of business: textile design, teaching art, and abstract painting. I transform original artworks into textiles that have names and come with short stories of inspiration. My scarves have been featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. As a teaching artist, I bring art workshops to the general public (through non-profit organizations) and also individuals living in retirement communities. No experience is needed in any of my classes as to delve into an intriguing creative adventure. Furthermore, I love colors, shapes, and textures, and explore them in my abstract paintings in watercolors on yupo and on fabrics. These areas of interest flow together seamlessly and make every day a fun one.

How did you get into the industry?

A few years back, I studied fashion design at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco and took a textile design class. I fell in love with patterns. It was one of those classes that changed my life. I finished my degree and immediately started my business exploring ways to make textile design a really cool business that would bring beauty to people’s lives and connect me, as the artisan, to their life experiences. Hence, each textile captures specific moments in our lives and is a vehicle to build a community. Teaching opportunities came along the way through my connections with other creators and painting in watercolors took on a bigger role while exhibiting in an array of group and solo shows.

Any emerging industry trends?

I find that my clients are interested in a unique creative process. There is more and more focus – in the Washington, DC area – on handcrafted items, on products that matter in both the physical and mental way. Emphasis is on the local, on learning about our immediate community, on personally knowing a crafter or an expert in a field.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

You won’t find me sitting down and designing for the sake of designing. I design when a life experience takes place and I “see” a visual way to express it. I capture moments from traveling around the world, interesting conversations with my family and friend, and my inner life. My textile designs are meant to be reminders of good things in life. Every pattern has a name and a short story explaining how it came about. I find my customers drawn to the stories; they see themselves in them and as they connect, they also get a really fun fashion accessory – in one of my scarves – for their closet. My process is thus inspired by life itself, by its ebb and flow. My vision for my business is to connect with my clients in a meaningful way and to create fashion that is of a long-term benefit to them.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

In my textile design work, I am focusing on bringing my scarves to new stores around the US. I am also constantly designing new art workshops with attention on inner exploration through a variety of artistic techniques. I wish to write a book, one day, about the benefits of art classes at retirement communities. You can learn more about my approach to teaching at these communities in “How Art Classes at Retirement Communities Connect Past and Present and Build Future,” a blog I wrote for HealthCommU. And lastly, I am deepening my notions about abstract art in a variety of painting projects with several art exhibitions coming up. I told you, every day is a fun one!

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

Being curious and patient are two characteristics that have worked well for me. Curiosity drives one to take action, to really pursue ideas and give them shape in our world. Patience gives us the opportunity to step back, to consider further steps, and to await the results of our actions. I enjoy meeting people, learning from them. Conversations fill me up with joy and energy. It feels like new ideas come up every day and that excites me.

Your most difficult moment at the Business?

I used to hold an office job with regular hours and paycheck. When I started my company, I became my own boss. It’s a mindset one needs to develop and embrace: get up and focus, enjoy what comes up, be ok with a less structured way of living. The transition was not easy and took a bit of time. I may have cried one or twice … But then, through just taking things one step at a time (yes, I also have a scarf called “Step by Step”), it all came together and continues to be a rather exciting experience.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

I want my customers to find themselves, their own life stories, in my work and in the workshops, they take with me. People often ask about my textile designs – not in terms of patterns of colors – but in terms of stories. “Hey, this is where I am in my life. Do you have a scarf with a story that would work for me?” Yes, this is how deep textile design can get. When a person leaves one of my workshops, I want them to feel like they discover something new within themselves, just a bit more courage to explore, to create. The work I do at retirement communities is about honoring people and meeting them at where they are in their lives, and giving them opportunities to express themselves in a kind environment.

How do you motivate others?

By being joyous. This may sound like a cliché but I am genuinely interested in how to live a life filed with joy. Hence, the name of my company. Not just a life dependent on outer experiences but a life that is all-encompassing and energizing. When I am with my family and friends, I look for joy and how we live it. When I work, when I meet my customers and students, I see what joy means to them. Joy brings us together. I am obsessed with colors (oh, you just take a look at my scarves and abstract paintings!) and they are my vehicle to introduce joy into the world too. So, here is to joy!

Career advice to those in your industry?

Listening for opportunities. Yes, listening is important. But I find listening for opportunities even more intriguing when it comes to business. This is not about listening to another person, taking an idea of theirs or asking for favors. This is about listening, engaging in conversations, and seeing what’s out there in the world, coming up with new ideas, and making them your own. It’s not always a straightforward set of steps but I find that quite thrilling. And being kind is a good thing too …

What do I do best?

I don’t wait.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Sticking to my values of joy, kindness, and care and, being at the end of the day, the person I am happy being.

What are my aspirations?

Oooh, there so many things I wish to experience! Let’s keep this answer a little mysterious but not really answering it … You may just need to keep up with me in some way or another.

My Biggest Success?

Good things have happened. I am one of the artisans featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. In 2018 I participated in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Marketplace (what a cool experience!). I have been told by my clients and students that my designs/workshops are “just what they needed.” And that’s a really good thing. Hence, there have been a lot of smiles and laughter in my days.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I love being in the mountains, on lookout towers, and in areas with open views. Those seem to open up my mind to joy.

My Current Passions?

Abstract art. Sailing. Friendly gatherings.

What Else to Know?

You can delve into details about my textile designs at “JOY AS STYLE: Alumna Martina Sestakova”, an article published by the Academy of Art University.

My Bio: Martina Sestakova is a native or the Czech Republic, currently residing in Kensington, MD, and the owner at RADOST (est. 2016). The name of her company stands for ‘joy in Czech. Martina holds an MFA in fashion design from the Academy of Arts University, San Francisco, CA. She explores three creative fields: textile design inspired by her paintings and photographs, teaching art to the public, and abstract painting in watercolors on yupo and fabrics. She is a textile artisan featured at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, IO, and stores across the Maryland/Virginia/Waschington, DC area. In her classes, Martina creates supportive environment in which people can thrive through artistic exploration no matter their background or age. Martina’s artworks have been exhibited at a variety of venues both in group and solo exhibitions, for instance at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown, MD, 505 North Gallery & Studio in Frederick, ND, and DC Arts Center in Washington, DC.

Get in touch with me:

Facebook: Radost by Martina Sestakova

Instagram: @radostbymartinasestakova

LinkedIn: Martina Sestakova