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.

 

 

A Diwali Hurricane

I know its been sometime since I have shared a post on the blog, but its been a very busy, eventful and unpredictable holiday season so far! So here’s a recap:

Here at Sweet Silk, our Holiday Season officially begins in fall in time for Diwali and Indian New Year. We were on a roll with events and markets and exclusive sales in NYC and online. We even started off the season by receiving a great honor at the USIN Celebrations Gala, hosted by Uma Sengupta at the World’s Fair Marina, from the City of New York with a citation for exemplary achievement as a small business owner.

Receiving honor from City of New York @USIN Celebrations Diwali Gala

Then it came….what is now deemed as a super storm….Hurricane Sandy. NYC and the metro area was hit harder and damage done was something this area was not at all prepared for. Somehow, we were one of few lucky ones as our kitchen and home were not greatly affected by the storm. We kept going and later that week, still managed to get out our first round of Diwali shipments and deliver our sweets for a wedding in far end of Long Island with only a quarter tank of gas, fearful of being stranded!

I guess it was fitting that our Diwali Sweet Gift boxes this year were inspired by the colors of a flickering flame because this Diwali that is exactly how many celebrated….under a flickering light from candles.

Diwali Sweet Gift Box

As we continued on in the coming weeks, there were still many complications from the storm ranging from a lack of available public transportation, road closures, gas shortages, delays in shipments and receiving of materials to being short on man power. But in the midst of it all this, we had a nice surprise with a great mention in the Wall Street Journal about our sweets for Diwali. Somehow, regardless of the storm-related headaches, we had one of our best sales ever!

After grueling non-stop few weeks, I finally took a break to attend the Varli Culinary Awards  in NYC. Earlier in September, Sweet Silk was a part of the cook off challenge that was judged by well-known chefs and culinary writers such as Chef Jeganhir Mehta. We were asked to create a dessert that showcased our talent or specialty using spices commonly used in Indian cuisine. Were asked to include cardamom, ginger and chili in our dessert. I had created a play off milk and cookies with a Indian twist. My cookie was a more of a cookie bar, which was made of ginger orange cookie crust, topped with a layer of my coconut cardamom sweet and then a layer of dark chocolate ganache infused with red chili with candied ginger pieces on top. To wash down the cookie, I paired it with my version of “Masala Milk”, which was milk steeped with cardamom and vanila but then spiked with almond and orange liquor and topped with slivers of pistachio and almond.

Sweet Silk Dessert for the Varli Culinary Competition

Arriving a bit late to the event, just after still fulfilling last minute Diwali orders and requests, I sat in back of the room watching the award ceremony only to hear my name being called as winner for Best Dessert & Pastry!!!  It was a wonderful unexpected surprise but an amazing way to celebrate all the hard and challenges we had just endured! Thank you to everyone who voted for us and supported us!

I have to admit that come Thanksgiving when I finally had moment to relax with my family and reflect and I was overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. I has grateful for all the blessings, family, support I had this year. I also felt so blessed to have been able to walk away from the storm without any horror stories and made sure to find ways to help those in need by providing donations to Red Cross and much needed supplies to many of the drop off location in NYC & NJ.

As we continue on this holiday season into Christmas, I want to continue to give back and support those in need by donating a portion of our sales. So this year we will be donating a portion of our holiday sales again to a great organization called SOS Children’s Village. SOS Children’s Villages is the world’s largest charity dedicated to orphaned and abandoned children. Present in 133 countries, SOS has 540 children’s villages, with over 40 villages in India.

Spreading the Joy

I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by and that the Christmas holidays are approaching. This time of year always makes me reflect back and I am reminded of all that I am thankful for. It has definitely been a great year for Sweet Silk and I am overwhelmed by all the love and support from my amazing family and friends, all of the encouraging feedback and complements from our customers, all the press and awareness of our company through just word of mouth.  I feel so thankful that I felt it was important to give back.  So this year Sweet Silk will donate portions of the holiday sale to an amazing organization called SOS Children’s Village.  SOS Children’s Villages is the world’s largest charity dedicated to orphaned and abandoned children.

I first learned of SOS through my best friend who recently began volunteering for SOS.  I was particularly drawn to this organization because their mission is to build families for orphaned or abandoned children, help keep siblings together and build homes, education facilities and even entire communities. SOS originated in Austria in 1949 (after World War II) and spread to India in 1964, when the first SOS Village was built in Greenfields (in the suburbs of Delhi). Since, they have expanded to spread their efforts worldwide and are now present in 133 countries with over 540 Children’s Villages. SOS now has the largest presence, with 40 Children’s Villages, in India (where over 20 million children lost their parents).

Family and especially the bond between siblings is one of the most important things for any child and it has been for me as well. So, I thought this was a great opportunity for me to not only help spread the word but support a great cause.  Please take the time to read more about SOS Children’s Villages at www.SOS-INDIA.org.

This holiday season spread the joy by sending someone a Sweet Silk Holiday Gift Box and help SOS in their efforts to help children all over the world.

A Sweet Raksha Bandhan Message

This time of year is very special to me for many reasons and so I find it fitting that I chose this moment to write our first true blog post. First, we are approaching the anniversary of when our Signature Collection of sweets were first introduced to the general public. The launch event which held at Shaadi Studio in NYC and we received great energy and feedback that made me really appreciate how far we had come and was aspired to take it to the next level. Secondly, this event took place around the Raksha Bandhan holiday, which celebrates the bond between a brother and sister. Coincidentally, Sweet Silk (since we first started up to this day) is a result of the amazing partnership between two sisters and a brother. Collectively, we all contribute and make Sweet Silk what it is today with our talents, hard work, dedication and passion to provide only the best to our consumers. We’ve accomplished a lot in the past year and proud of how we’ve grown not just as a company but as creators, individuals, partners and as a family. So, why not share with you all what we are all about.

Sweet Silk Launch Event
Team Sweet Silk our launch event (from left to right: Nimesh, Shefalee and Sheila Patel)

Initially I started writing about how Sweet Silk even came about and what led me to start a confectionery and team up with my siblings. However, I think I will save that for a later day. In the spirit of the upcoming holiday and all that it embodies, I decided the first blog would actually be more of a dedication to my brother. For those who don’t know, my brother, Nimesh, is only a couple years younger than me. Even as kids we were always a good team from being partners in crime (getting into some kind of trouble with our elaborate imaginative games) or looking out for our younger sister, Sheila. So it is no surprise that we are now business partners because we not only work well together but seem to balance each other out.

So let me shed a little more light on how crucial he is to Sweet Silk. He was the first one to back up my idea at conception even though he knew nothing about the confectionery business (and I’m sure he thought I was crazy). He handles all the financial aspects of the business, which makes sense because he’s always been good with dealing with money. Even as a kid he would count money he got for his birthday or holidays, over and over again and keep a log of his savings!. He was instrumental in developing the branding of Sweet Silk along with my sister and he single-handedly designed our website and online shop and continues to manage it. He is the one who creates the newsletters and has even become the resident photographer. Aside from all the technical aspects, he is also always ready to step into the kitchen and help me any way he can with cutting or packaging our sweets. I can’t begin to tell you how many times he, along with my sister and mother, has been up late nights working on finishing a large order with me. All of this and much more while still maintaining his full time job as an engineer (and I thought I was a good at multitasking)!

More importantly he is an amazing brother. He is the kind of brother who will take the heat for you because he didn’t want to see you cry or will carry your burdens because he didn’t want you to suffer. He is the kind of brother who always knows how to make you laugh when you are feeling down and would protect you from anything/anyone that would bring you harm. He is the kind of brother who would drop everything without question or hesitation if ever asked for help. He is honestly (and this is not my biased opinion) the kindest, most loyal, dedicated, motivated, insightful man I know (and yes ladies he is good looking and single too!).

So I have to say (and I know I’m a sap because I’m tearing up just writing this), that I’ve been truly blessed to have a brother like him and Sweet Silk wouldn’t exist nor be where it is today without him. I love you Nim and I don’t think I will ever be able to thank you enough for everything you have done and continue you do for me. I am so proud of everything you have accomplished and the man you have become. You are definitely my inspiration and I strive to be more like you every day.

Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan 1988-Tying rakhi on my brother is a tradition we still continue in our family.

So make sure this Raksha Bandhan you take the time out of your busy schedule to truly express to your brother, cousin, brother-in-law, or friend that you hold dear just how much you appreciate everything they’ve done for you and how much you care…they deserve it.
 

Welcome to Sweet Silk’s Blog

Featured

Welcome all to the Sweet Silk blog page! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Shefalee Patel and I’m the owner and founder of Sweet Silk. Through this blog I will share antidotes from inside the kitchen and behind the scenes…from our adventures, journeys, discoveries, fascinations, influences and inspirations…truly all the makings of Sweet Silk. I will also share exclusive insights on our new creations from flavor combinations to our specialty packaging and a little glimpse of all those a part of the Sweet Silk family.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Shefalee