Our Diwali Story

What makes Diwali such a widespread holiday? Each culture, religion and family brings their own significance as to how they commemorate this special time of the year.  It is truly a multifaceted event. Still, certain festivities and traditions universally epitomize this holiday; lighting a diyas (oil lamps) or candles, skies filled with fireworks, colorful rangoli designs, social gatherings, exchange of greetings and notably, the sharing of sweets.

At Sweet Silk, we believe it is important to continue to honor our rich history, traditions and culture by carrying them out from generation to generation. This belief is what initially inspired me to create a collection of sweets that is a refined and a healthier version of classic Indian mithai. I hoped by creating sweets that appeal to a modern palate in lovely gift boxes, it would help to spark a nostalgic memory of growing up. It’s those happy moments that stay with us and is what I imagine will help continue the tradition that a celebration is never complete without a little something sweet.

DSC_0079_edit_1024x768So every Diwali, we offer festive sweet gift boxes, created by my very own sister and partner Sheila of okSheila, that will be the perfect addition to your Diwali celebrations or as a gift to send to friends and family.

My family is very close knit and very big! Every year we all find a way to get together for the holidays. I love how with every generation the celebrations and traditions grow and our story of Diwali evolves. So when the lovely ladies from Bharat Babies reached out to me to collaborate for a special Diwali gift, I immediately knew it would be perfect fit. The book entitled “Let’s Celebrate Diwali” is a unique tale that tells the story of Diwali from four different faith traditions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism. In this story, we meet four children who eagerly tell their classmates how they celebrate Diwali with their families. This vibrantly illustrated book helps educate our younger generation and is great way for them learn about the diversity of this wonderful holiday.

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Let's Celebrate Diwali2_webWhat makes Bharat Babies so unique is that they produce developmentally appropriate children’s books that tell the stories of India. the company started after Founder, Sailaja Joshi, was trying to register for her baby shower and found no appropriate children’s books about her Indian heritage. Not like the stories that were out there, she decide to write her own. Joining forces with her sister and friend, Bharat Babies has formed in 2014. Since its founding, they have put out 4 different books which celebrate India’s beautiful and diverse culture. I absolutely adore the Diwali book and look forward to sharing all of their stories with my nieces and nephews. Even more so, I admire these driven women entrepreneurs that share in our mission!  I encourage you all to visit Bharat Babies to learn more about their story and their books.

DSC_0032edited_webThis Diwali, be sure to take the time to honor your past and create new memories with all your loved ones.

 

 

Celebrating women…Celebrating Moms

I am so excited to introduce our latest exclusive gift just in time for Mother’s Day; A “Sweets  & Chai” Gift set.

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The inspiration behind this gift set started back in early March, on Women’s Day.  It’s a day that started out to celebrate women’s equality and has evolved into a celebration of achievements by women from around the world. I read stories online about the many womens’ accomplishments and how many of their success was due to support and collaboration of other women. This sparked an idea, “Why not work together with other women who own small business to help each other and build awareness of our companies.”

I was just starting to develop plans for upcoming sales and as discussion came up about Mother’s Day, I thought it would be a great avenue to explore my idea to collaborate with other women.  I wanted to create something that not only would work well as gift set but that had a good synergy of our missions and design style for a cohesive gift.

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Sweets & Chai Gift Set

My first thought was what would complement our sweets and something a mother would enjoy. Immediately I thought of teas.  Lucky for me, I happen to hear about a fairly new tea company called Chai Diaries through the South Asian Young Women Entrepreneur organization. Upon meeting the owner, Ami Bhansali and hearing her story and mission behind her company, I felt instant connection.  So of course I was excited when she loved my idea and agreed to collaborate on the Mother’s Day gift.

She shared with me how she grew up around tea estates and ended up, after her own personal journey, found herself following in her father’s footsteps working with tea.  She believes in sincerity and sells only her own personal selection of directly sourced blended teas and herbs.  She also believes a nice cup of tea can evoke sincere emotions, help you enjoy a pause an even help feel reborn.

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I sampled many of her teas and then began pairing them with different sweets. When I discovered that so many of her teas were a great complement to our sweets, I didn’t know how to narrow down to few selections for our gift set.  Since I know most people will ask me, I found my favorite to be the Classic Breakfast due its subtle hints of spice, a little nutty undertone and smooth finish.  However, I loved all the other teas as well and this coming from a die-hard coffee drinker!

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Mother’s Day Card created by Aayan Creations exclusively for Sweet Silk

I know that no gift is truly complete without a card to give it that personal touch.  I had been already working with Shruti Sharma from Aayan Creations on creating cards for Sweet Silk, so it was a no brainer to have her create an exclusive gift card for our Mother’s Day gift set.  I love how all of her invitations are unique with attention to so much detail. What initially drew me to her is how she, like me, started off in a completely different field but decided to pursue her passion. She incorporates South-Asian cultures and traditions into her designs and create unique and innovative concepts based on the personality and desires of each of her clients. I especially love the intricate vintage Indian sari patterns that she envelopes in an elegant and modern way. However, what I find most  inspiring (and why I felt she was another perfect collaboration), is that she not only is a women entrepreneur but a mother of a 6-year old boy (the namesake of her company).

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Aayan Creation Invitation

I am so excited to present and share these artisanal products from three women who reinvented themselves to create and share their passion with others.  This is not just another gift set or sales campaign. This gift lovingly made by each one of us for our true inspiration, backbone and the ultimate unsung hero……Mom.

 

 

New Year…New Sweet Beginnings

At the start of new year we tend to have a renewed sense of hope…establish goals we want accomplish….set resolutions to help better our selves. We feel full of excitement and motivation to tackle on any challenges that may come our way…because we’re determined to make this year better than the last. This feeling of new beginnings reminds me of how in the start of 2010, we embarked on a new venture and how Sweet Silk was born.

I had come with the idea and concept of creating refined or elegant Indian sweets in 2009 after returning from working in Dubai. I was inspired by all the gorgeous European chocolate and confectionaries I visited while I lived there. I also rediscovered all the rich ingredients and spices that make Middle Eastern and Indian sweets so unique. So, as my first catering “job”, I decided to create my version of indian sweets “dressed up” like petite fours for my best friend’s wedding. I created my fist two sweet flavors based on the flavors my friend and her husband loved; coconut with cardamom and dark chocolate ganache and Mejdool dates with hint of rose and studded with pistachios. I decorated each sweet with fondant flowers and bows and packaged the two sweets inside favor gift boxes my sister and I designed inspired by the blue and silver art deco dress of the bride. Each guest received a box that was inscribed with a message from the bride and groom.

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I never imagined it would take 4 continuous days for me to execute this plan, but once we saw the reaction on everyone’s face at the wedding and got positive feedback on taste, we knew it was worth every minute. That was when we knew we may be on the verge of something big!

So the start of 2010 my brother, my sister and I decided to pool together our talents, brainstorm and work together to make this vision come to life. All of January, we worked on a ideas, mission, company name and branding during the nights and I’d experiment with my mom and aunts during the day to develop my recipes and sweet flavors. In February, we conducted our first focus group where we had guests conduct a survey on everything from taste to aesthetics. Fueled with motivation and positive feedback, we kept moving full steam ahead in the coming months by obtaining our business license, making our sweets in a commercial kitchen, landing more catering jobs and continuing to collaborate to refine all of our ideas. Before we knew it summer flew by and in August we decided to take the leap and launch our first product line for sale with party in NYC. Shortly after we got our website up and running and began selling our Signature Collection online in time for Diwali. We even got an amazing feature in the New York Times before Christmas which helped spread the word about Sweet Silk throughout the country. We even got an order from someone in Japan who read about our story!

As fun and exhilarating as that first year was for all of us, it wasn’t short of its unforeseen challenges, hard work and many sleepless nights. Aside from obvious struggles of starting a new business, I faced some personal struggles with a complete change in my career and lifestyle. I wasn’t prepared for constantly having to prove myself or my vision to those who I thought would be supportive and understanding. At moments I found myself even struggling with self doubt.  ”What was I thinking to do this in my 30′s!!”  However, through it all I had to keep reminding myself why I started Sweet Silk. I knew I didn’t want keep working in “jobs” or have a career took over my life for sake of making hefty paycheck and……rather work for something I believe in and enjoy creating and sharing something I love.

I discovered along the way, that I wasn’t the only one facing these issues but many of my own peers and college friends who’ve made some life changing transitions have faced similar challenges. I was introduced to Vitra Singh by a good friend and found out that she had been going through similar struggles. She found herself inspired by many people she’s met and spoke to along way and was compelled to share these stories in a book to help others considering a life change and begin “Living Life For Yourself, Not Your Job”.

In this book, Vitra Singh shares the stories of 24 people who courageously reinvented their careers in a way that worked for them. Whether they turned a hobby into a full-time job, tried various avenues until they found a passion, or were forced to figure it out when life got in the way. Their journeys prove ordinary people like you and me can change the course of our careers if we want it badly enough. While it may be easy to stay in your current job, this book inspires you to start exploring a profession that will give you a sense of purpose and joy. This book shares the experiences of each of these individuals—their frustrations, fears, doubts, and strength as they boldly transformed the quality of their lives by refusing to settle for their 9 to 5 job.

I was honored to be included as one of those 24 people in this book where I was asked to answer some hard questions and reveal personal feelings and struggles. In some way having her ask me these questions and reading about the others who went through similar struggles helped me battle with own issues and made me stronger for it. I have to admit that through it all, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish or got this far without the help of my family, especially my sibling partners.

So for anyone else out there wanting to make some big changes or start a new path in 2013……read Vitra’s book or talk to others that may be able to help or provide source of inspiration…..and at the risk of sounding cliche….don’t hesitate and doubt yourself…JUST DO IT!