Good monday morning! I’m delighted to present to you our latest BollyInsider interview, Sarena Udani of Pajama Sutra! If you’re not yet familiar with her stylish, functional and wonderfully affordable pajamas then you’re in for a real treat.
Mompreneurship has been a great career move for many mothers. As this trend of Mompreneurs gains interest, there’s a greater understanding and acceptance of women making the choice to actively attempt to balance work and family. I chatted with Sarena to get her stance on the state of Mompreneurship. I have such admiration for Mompreaneurs because they not only have created GREAT products, but they’ve worked their fannies off to get where they are today! As we learn from each other, we find our own ways to be the best moms we can be, and be the best in our careers as well. Read on for words of wisdom from the lovely and oh-so-talented Sarena Udani…
Tell us about your company PajamaSutra, an online Indian-inspired pajama boutique?
PajamaSutra is a feminine and comfortable line of sleepwear made from collectable cotton prints from India, with ultra-flattering details tailored to compliment a woman’s body.
I love the name of your company – PajamaSutra. How did you come up with it?
The fact that the word “pyjama” originally came from India fits so well with the inspiration and aesthetic of my line. I think the name PajamaSutra conveys a sense of playfulness, and I love that the word “Sutra” also means “thread” in Hindi. There is more behind the name, though. I decided when I was in third grade that I wanted to change my name. I went from Pooja to Sarena on my own, without telling my parents. My last name changed from Jaggia to Udani after I got married, so I went from PJ to SU. I incorporated both sets of initials into the PajamaSutra name as an homage to my roots.
Are you hoping to expand PajamaSutra throughout the country?
Definitely, both online and in retail stores. I am also adding new styles and prints this spring.
What is your design background?
I studied Design at UCLA and continued with it at Stanford for my Master’s Degree.
Were you creative as a child?
I would sit and draw for hours! Art was my favorite subject at school. I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something creative.
What propelled you to found your own company?
Most of the women in my family are entrepreneurs, and I grew up wanting my own business. In college, I started my own freelance web and graphic design business, which taught me a lot about entrepreneurship. By the time I got to Stanford, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. That program produces an uniquely high number of business owners and CEOs.
What are some of your favorite textures and fabrics?
I love natural fabrics! With sleepwear and intimates, it is even more important to use breathable, natural fibers. I love cotton, and am interested in incorporating other natural fabrics into the line, like bamboo – a soft and sustainable fabric.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
Simple, balanced, clean. I love to play with color and prints, and will choose a geometric, modern and clear print over a fussy floral any day.
Best business advice you’ve been given?
To think big! Many women entrepreneurs sell themselves short, but it is important to aim higher.
Creative businesswoman you admire?
There are many, but I think that Mayura Kona, a colleague of mine from UCLA, is truly inspirational. Her business, One Thread Fair Trade, is a LA based company that works to train villages of women in South India in textile arts, and they in turn create the cushions that Mayura designs. These women were victim to poverty and domestic violence, and through this work are able to provide for their families, educate their children, and really transform their lives. Designers can often become self-indulgent, and I think Mayura is a shining example of how to produce your own designs while thinking of others first.
How have you handled the stress?
I take active measures to remove it from my life. If it means I move leisurely in my business, I am okay with that. I have goals for the year, and give myself plenty of time to achieve them. I think that is the luxury of owning your own business; you are your own boss!
What’s the hardest thing about motherhood (name, age)?
My daughter Anya just turned two, and the hardest part about the past two years has been learning how to let go of trying to be the perfect mom, perfect wife and perfect entrepreneur. I think it is possible to have it all, but you have to can’t do it all at the same time, and it takes a lot of work to balance everything. Anya is growing up so fast, and I don’t want to miss a second with her.
Is there such a thing as a typical workday for you?
My business runs in “bursts” and is not like the steady, continuous occupation of being a full-time, stay at home mom. When my daughter is busy with playdoh, I know I have about fifteen minutes to check email or work on new styles. When she is napping, I have a couple hours to get things done. It isn’t as productive as full time, uninterrupted work, but it is a lot more interesting and challenging!
What do you want your daughter to grow up knowing?
That she can have a fulfilling career, and a family, and not feel like she has to sacrifice one for the other.
With your busy work schedule, how do you carve out quality time with your family?
On weekends we spend a lot of family time together, but on weekdays we have to make an effort. We recently discussed changing our bedtime routine so that my husband and I put Anya to bed together, reading books and talking about our day. We turn off the TV, cellphones, computer and all the lights, and watch the sunset through the window. It is my favorite time of day.
What’s the best part of being a working mom?
I feel like I truly have the best of both worlds!
Can you reveal a recent “tough mom moment”?
It involved an enormous diaper blowout, being away from home, and no spare clothes. Luckily we were at the mall, so I could buy her new clothes. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say that I had to buy new socks in addition to new pants and top, and that it took me about an hour and an entire package of wipes before we were good as new.
Who makes dinner most days?
Anya and I do! She is fascinated with the kitchen and wants to be involved as much as she can. My husband is a neurosurgical resident, and works long hours. Sometimes he comes home long after Anya is asleep.
Have working and being a mom ever conflicted for you?
Yes, during my first year of motherhood. I stopped working completely for about 10 months! The transition to motherhood was intense for me, and I really struggled with the lack of sleep. I gave myself the time I needed to get back up on my feet, and waited until I was truly ready to begin working.
What has been the biggest surprise in becoming a mother?
Well, I knew I would love my daughter, but I was surprised at how much! I would do anything for her. It is a wonderful, fulfilling feeling that is unmatched.
What words of wisdom do you hope to pass on to your daughter?
I want her to have fun with life, and not to take things too seriously. And not to be in a rush to grow up! I am reliving my childhood through her, and I see how wonderful it is to be little and carefree.
What would you tell women who struggle with working-mom guilt?
It is important to examine where the guilt is coming from. Is it internal, or is it the result of external pressure? Is it coming from your past or present? There are so many influencers: your childhood, societal pressure, your family, and your friends. Once you identify the source, you can decide if it is something to address, or to just get over it.
One of the toughest times for moms of young children is leaving for work. How do you handle those hard goodbyes?
I think sometimes it is harder for the moms to leave! Kids may be upset for a minute or two, and then are fine. They just need to be secure and know that you will return. I think it is a mistake to sneak out; it creates anxiety and distrust. My daughter went through intense separation anxiety, and we worked around it, playing a lot of peek-a-boo games until she was comfortable knowing that “mommy always comes back”. I am lucky in that I work for myself, so I had the flexibility to wait until she was ready – and since I work from home, I am never far away!
Do you ever feel it’s hard to continue to fulfill yourself professionally and be fully engaged with your daughter?
It is difficult, but I’ve learned to be creative with it! If I am working on new designs, then I will take out her markers and paper and we will both sit and draw together. If I am working with fabrics, I give her some swatches to play with too. If I have to sit on the computer for a few minutes, then I pull out her toy laptop and we sit together. She loves to imitate me, and I love being able to overlap work and playtime. It makes everything more fun!
I am always interested in different styles of child rearing that work for different families. What’s your parenting style?
We began with the principles of attachment parenting, which was a style that worked well for us since I was at home. Now that Anya is older, we feel like we made a good decision for our family. She is secure in our bond, and we see that it gives her self-assurance and confidence.
What kind of mom do you want to be?
Lately there is a lot of talk about “tiger moms”, “helicopter moms,” and even “elephant moms.” Honestly, I just want to be a regular, human mom. I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect my daughter to be either. I just want her to be a happy, confident, good person and I want to be worthy of being her mother!
source: Pajama Sutra
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“Why do you want to be a dressmaker when you can be a doctor?” This was my favorite line from yesterday’s New York Times article that notes the rise of Asian American designers in the still very insulated, non-diverse world of fashion. Asians and Asian-Americans alike field a lot of cultural pressure to pursue “professional” careers even if they have a creative bent, and it’s great to read an article that gives a little fire to aspiring Asian creatives. And while I love the list of celebrated designers, which includes Alexander Wang and Jason Wu among others, I would consider Naeem Khan – who dressed Michelle Obama for her first White House state dinner honoring the Prime Minister of India in a stunning gold dress – a South Asian representative for the list. Khan comes from a family focused on embroidery in India and a chance meeting with Halston led him to the world of high fashion. Gina of CoutureRani interviewed Khan in the video below – come take a peek to see how Khan has invaded American fashion but still has India on his mind.
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Morning all! I’m so excited to be reigniting the BollyInstyle Q&A series today with the oh-so-charming Sheetal Bhagat. As one of the top 6 contestants on the reality TV show The MasterChef, she has got me hooked! I like her food, I like her music (yes…she sings too), and I LOVE reading her backstage MasterChef blog. What an amazing talent. This girl can do it all. I look forward to seeing her career take off from here. Be sure to catch new episodes of The MasterChef on Fox Wednesdays! Without further ado, here’s Sheetal…
I’ll always be a musician, with many other aspirations and interests. I love to cook, of course, I also love to write. Most of my rehearsals and concerts are in the evenings, which leaves me time on some days to create new recipes and try new things.
I try to think outside the box in music and in food. For instance, in writing harmonies for my music, I stay away from predictable patterns. My cooking is no different.
I have a degree in choral music education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Very creative. I loved to paint, draw, cook, and play piano. The things that inspire you, that feed your lyrics and your palette. I draw on my personal experiences when I write music. Cooking is a little different, as I cook to please the mouths eating my food.
Each dish is constantly evolving, so I can’t say I’ve “mastered” any dish. My enchiladas have evolved many, many times, starting with a sauce made from Campbell’s soup and taco seasoning in college, to now making a poblano chili and spinach béchamel sauce. (and many variations in between!)
Currently, all music that I have been writing/arranging for the launch of this website. Track after track with small changes made by my producer, each version slightly different. Boring stuff!
Be true to yourself, and don’t lose your integrity.
In designing my site, I wasn’t sure if I should market myself as a musician or as a cook. At the same time, I didn’t want to have the usual boring tabs that people have on their sites (about me, photo gallery, etc.). I came up with the 5 senses because I realize that the senses are what I aspire to engage in my viewers. When you click on “hear” your hearing is engaged by my music, “see” is my photo gallery, etc…
FMK is a one woman company that I started a couple of years ago. I love to cook, I love to teach so I decided to give the combination a shot.
The reason why I auditioned for MasterChef is because I learned that it was really supposed to be a growing opportunity for the contestants. And it truly was. My cooking has done a 180. I would consider doing a music reality TV show but it really depends on the concept of the show. I’m not into the drama aspect of these shows, and really aspire to be a part of something bigger.
I learned a lot about food, about myself, about how I handle pressure situations. The post show benefits remain to be seen, but as I said, I’m ready to take a new turn in mu career, never losing sight of the fact that I’m a musician first.
I think looking back the challenges were really fun. At the time, they were tough, but in hindsight, those were pretty fun days!
I’d love to host a Music show that also involves food and travel. I have so many passions and can speak intelligently on several things… I’m just waiting on the right project to come along to jump on it!
You can find me at home on a Friday night, unless I have a concert. I have a beautiful 14 year old black lab who I love to spend time with on Friday evenings, after a long work week. I may have a few friends over, cook up a few dishes, open some wine, and enjoy the evening that way, however, it’s rare that I’m out on a Friday night.
source: Sheetal Bhagat
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We have not done a BollyInside interview for quite some time but this one was worth waiting for! I’ve gushed about these two sisters before and am absolutely ecstatic to share them with you today, that’s right, today’s BollyInside with is Maimoona and Sanaa from the south asian wedding blog, Marigolds & Mithai.
For those tuned into the blogging world, you will understand when I say you can read someone’s postings and feel like you’ve been invited into their home because of all the similarities. I had that ‘inspirational aha!’ moment when I started reading Marigolds & Mithai. These two gals have incredible taste, unique ideas, and gorgeous pictures that will inspire any bride to put a mix of modern and tradition into their special day effortlessly. From chic veils to vintage bollywood hair styles, Maimoona and Sanaa has thought of every detail. Without further ado, here’s the two sisters in their own words…
1. How would you describe each other in 5 words?
Sanaa is…quirky, dramatic (in a good way:), expressive, friendly, good humored
Maimoona is…mellow, decisive, feminine, patient, poised
Even though we make it sound as if we’re complete opposites, we’re actually more similar than you would think.
2. Why the start of Marigolds & Mithai and blogging as a platform?
When we were planning Maimoona’s wedding we came across some amazing blogs – and we quickly became addicted. The thing we liked about blogs as opposed to magazines was that they were updated on a daily basis, with a constant supply of new ideas and inspiration, and they directly linked to other resources, so you were always just a click away from finding out where or how to get what you were looking at. We realized however, that the South Asian perspective wasn’t really represented (or at least we weren’t aware of it), and kept thinking, someone needs to do this for South Asian weddings and finally just decided why not us.
3. Were you creative as a child?
We’d say we both had a pretty wild imagination but that’s probably the extent of it. And now, as a lawyer and a finance analyst, there isn’t really much room for creativity in our professional lives. I think we surprised ourselves with Marigolds & Mithai.
4. Any advice you would give to aspiring bloggers?
Just do it. We spent way too much time flip flopping over whether we should do it or not, and started nearly a year after we first had the idea. Once you get started, it’ll feel natural quite quickly. We would say that you should probably post at least three times a week if you’re looking for continued growth and want to maintain and increase your following.
5. What do you hope to accomplish through blogging?
It started off as something we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could actually do – and has now become a place we come to when we need a break from everything else in our lives. We weren’t really the kind of girls who’d always dreamed of their wedding, we sort of just fell into the whole thing. Now Marigolds & Mithai is a home for anything and everything that inspires us, and at the end of the day, we hope that some of those things will inspire others as well.
6. Weddings is quite a saturated market. What challenges do you face writing M&M when their are now so many other blogs covering similar topics?
The wedding market is saturated but we think there’s still not enough out there for South Asian brides. Although new blogs are starting to pop up, all of them offer very distinct point of views – which is great! As long we stick with our point of view, we don’t really think of other blogs as challenges, but as an opportunity to build a community. We’re having fun connecting with all the other bloggers out there.
7. How do you get through a creative rut?
Oh we definitely have those, and that’s when we just step away and take a break. A few days off can do wonders.
8. Something you’re still learning?
We started off just worrying about what we were going to do tomorrow. Now that we’re a little bigger, we’re learning to see the bigger picture, so we’re constantly trying to figure out how to address the challenges and opportunities that come our way – be it collaborations with others, marketing ourselves, or trying to picture the future of Marigolds and Mithai.
9. What’s next for you, future goals?
That question is still a bit of a challenge, but we’re just excited about where this blog will take us next.
10. Can you define your personal style?
Sanaa – Definitely menswear inspired, I’m constantly stealing from my brothers’ closets and actually get excited when they shrink something, because then it’s mine! Always love a good thrifted item too. For example, my current favorite shirt is this $2 red striped button down I got from the same store that supplied the costumes for Mad Men’s pilot episode. But I also have a thing for long, flowy dresses.
Maimoona – Classicly feminine pieces mixed in with a healthy dose of trend pieces. Sanaa’s starting to rub off on me though, and I’ve been known to dip into my husband’s closet every now and then. But when I say feminine, I mean it – I really don’t even own any pants.
11. You need a new outfit, where do you shop? What are your favorite labels?
Our staples would be Madewell, J.Crew, Zara, Tucker and Steven Alan with occasional splurging at Barneys. For online shopping, gilt.com is always good for scoring deals and we’re really into shopnastygal.com for fun dresses, vintage pieces and slightly rocker items (type in the address carefully though, or who knows where you may end up). Throw in a good bag and we’re good to go.
12. Describe your perfect getaway?
Maimoona’s going to Rio next week, and that sounds pretty perfect right about now. But we both have been meaning to do a sisters’ getaway at the Parker in Palm Springs for a while now – complete with a spa day and roasting marshmallows on their outdoor grill. We just need to make it happen.
13. Three people you’d love to have a cup of chai with and why?
Andre Leon Talley because he’s just so fabulous and it seems as though he’d be a fun chai companion.
Leonardo Da Vinci but probably because we just went to the MFA last week and fell in love with him all over again. When we were kids, we remember going to the Leonardo Da Vinci museum in Italy and being in awe of everything he’d accomplished. We wanted to be renaissance women for the longest time but quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen.
Jane Austen because her writing is so witty and clever. We would probably include a whole slew of writers in that category.
Queen Rania because she just defines elegance and being a woman to us.
Some notable South Asians we would include are Gandhi (of course!), Satyajit Ray, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Asma Jahangir, Mira Nair and of course all the amazing designer talent we showcase on the website.
14. You don’t like the word ‘TRENDS’…please explain?
Well, in the sense that trends become all encompassing and people start to feel like that’s what they should be doing. At the end of the day, whether it’s your wedding or any other day, it should be about what you like and what reflects you, rather than what trends dictate – if you happen to like a particular trend, that’s great, but it should never feel forced.
15. What about South Asia inspires you?
The colors, textures, rich tradition and the diversity. There’s no other place quite like the subcontinent, and that’s why we love it so.
16. Where will we find you two on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?
Half the time we’re at home – we’re big homebodies and when there’s a choice between going out and staying in our pjs, we’ll always pick the pjs. The other half of the time we’re usually trying out new restaurants with friends and family – there’s nothing better than good food with great company.
source: Marigolds & Mithai
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Happy Midweek! Time for some visual happiness and some inspiration. Today’s bollyINSIDE interview is the trendsetting and fabulous jewelry designer, Robindira Unsworth. Robindira along with her husband Robert has created a successful ‘gem’ enterprise which can be found at over 200 high end retail and online stores worldwide including Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Fred Segal, Anthropologie, and Robindira’s newly opened design studio, ATELIER at Robindira Unsworth.
Last year, the dashing couple traveled to Istanbul for some inspiration. After taking in the mystical blend of air and its vivacious culture, Robindira returned to her workshop in Sonoma County and decided to create a line of soy aromatic candles, which will launch very soon. So many exciting things happening at Robindira Unsworth! Who says you can’t do it all? Robindira’s boutique is filled with one of a kind global goodies all handpicked by Robindira herself – from scarves, tees, sweaters, bags, candles…and of course, her lux jewelry collection. Enough of my babbling though, here’s Robindira in her own words…
Some extra inspiration: I found this amazing footage that shows a glimpse into Robindira’s life… great insight into her lifestyle, inspirations, and mad jewelry making skills.
What inspires your designs?
I take much inspiration from travel…I find that new ideas always present themselves as long as I am out exploring the world, meeting different people and experiencing different cultures. I also am constantly in awe of the beauty of nature—-we have a gorgeous fifty foot high wisteria in our garden that is currently in full bloom—-there is no other word to describe it’s beauty but extraordinary….each morning it fills me with the desire to create.
When did you know you wanted to be a jewelry designer?
My mother was a clothing designer and my father was a filmmaker and as a result I think that creative expression was in my blood—— as soon as I created my first piece of jewelry I knew that I had discovered something truly magical to me.
Were you creative as a child?
I am an only child and as a result was always coming up with ways in which to entertain myself….whether it was designing a line of clothing for an impromptu Snoopy fashion show or creating a magical world that my dolls could live in…I was never bored.
Any advice you would give to aspiring designers?
Follow your dreams….focus, work extremely hard and never take no for an answer!
I say PEARLS, you say…. (a MUST have essential item of jewelry)
A long layering chain necklace either in all gold or with a mix of gold and oxidized silver, a piece that can be wrapped twice around or worn as a long slinky necklace.
How do you go from inspiration to finished piece – the process?
Inspiration turns into a design idea, which then translates itself into a drawing, is layed out as a formula with specs, a prototype is created, then critiqued, re-worked and eventually turns into a finished product.
Which celebrity would you like to see wearing your jewelry on the Red Carpet?
I love for our jewelry to make the women who wear it feel like they are on their own red carpet…..that is what is truly gratifying to me.
Do you have a favorite gemstone or precious metal?
I am a huge fan of rose cut diamonds….I love their organic quality and their more muted sparkle. They feel like the perfect answer to the question of casual luxury.
Is there anything in line for the future that we should know about? Any new collections you are working on perhaps?
Something you’re still learning?
To have balance….that you have to step back and relax from time to time.
Where will we find you on a Friday night at 9 p.m.?
Tonight you will find my husband and I listening to jazz at a local restaurant with my family…..next Friday we may be cozying up at home with a favorite movie, a yummy meal and our exuberant Boykin Spaniel!
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