Creating Community at The Inner-Connection
When Ratha Wright heard that The Inner-Connection owners Jan and Paul Wren were selling their business just over a year ago, she was distraught. “I loved the store and everything about it. I didn’t want it to change. The Wrens did such an amazing job of building community, and their store meant so much to me and so many others,” recalls this entrepreneur, who already owned other businesses.
Then a brilliant idea hit her—maybe she was meant to be the next owner of The Inner-Connection. “I just really had a strong feeling about it. I had a business background, so that helped. Although, I didn’t know anything about retail or POS. I didn’t even know how to run a cash register,” says Wright. Still, she reached out to the Wrens and requested a meeting.
Wright didn’t know it at the time, but the Wrens also had a strong feeling about her. As Jan states, “Her heart came through the door before she did.” That initial get-together and subsequent visits were successful, and soon, Wright, along with her husband, Jean-Paul Wright, began taking the steps necessary to buy the store.
Because the Wrens had built such a cohesive community, Wright’s main focus was to continue expanding upon that mission. “My husband and I think of this as our passion project. We have the freedom and flexibility with our business decisions, and can really focus on serving at the highest capacity,” she asserts. Creating a safe, welcoming environment was of the utmost importance to the pair, and they’ve gone to great lengths to provide this space for healing.
Wright’s desire to be of service to others has been deeply rooted since she was young. Her parents emigrated to the U.S. from Southeast Asia when she was an infant. The oldest of seven children, Wright spent a lot of time helping to raise her younger siblings. “It really helped me learn some valuable skills, like how be present for everyone,” she affirms.
Wright’s life changed when she attended Phillips Exeter Academy, in New Hampshire. The school’s motto of non sibi, or “not for oneself”, was an integral part of the school’s culture. Wright has taken this motto and applied it to her personal and professional life, taking steps to being of service to others in whatever capacity is required. At Wellesley College, Wright joined Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., to continue with her mission of service in the greater Boston area. Through community service, fundraisers and Boston city-wide events, Wright and her sorors carried out the organization’s philanthropic mission of raising awareness of domestic violence and violence against women.
She also notes that when it comes to how she can best serve others, Wright uses Buddhist deity Kuan Yin as her model. “Kuan Yin is the bodhisattva of compassion. A bodhisattva is an enlightened being who chose to stay in the physical world to assist others,” she says. “Kuan Yin is the embodiment of loving and selfless service to others. Love is universal. It transcends all things.”
One of the latest ways The Inner-Connection serves the community is by expanding their retail store into a holistic and wellness center. With the recent acquisition of 2,000 additional square feet of space, the center now features a studio, a workshop space and a private practice room to open later this month. The center’s emphasis is on helping others improve their mind, body and spirit through a variety of yoga classes, including kundalini, nidra, hatha and buti, in addition to meditation practices, self-empowerment workshops and support groups. “Our focus with this shift is self-empowerment. Sometimes we all forget that the power is already within us and The Inner-Connection is here to provide a safe and loving space as we journey into finding ourselves,” explains Wright.
At the end of the day, says Wright, what makes her happiest is making connections with others and being of service. “I really couldn’t imagine a better vehicle for me than this,” she confirms.
The Inner-Connection is located at 300 Bridge St., in New Cumberland, PA. For more information, call 717-833-4325 or visit MyInnerConnection.com.
Erin Lehn Floresca is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.