At BHAV, we believe in empowering women to find unique ways to embrace their cultural heritage. We started 'The Culture Connection' to explore the impact (both good and bad) of heritage on a variety of incredible women, and understand how it continues to play an influential role in their lives. We invite you to join us on this journey, with the hope that you find value in these conversations.
Sejal is the founder of 'Bolo Bolo Baby' a children's company that creates products to teach the languages of Gujurati and Hindi to kids. In her spare time she enjoys dance choreography and reading. She's even become more interested in photography because of Instagram! Read on to learn about how Sejal's Indian heritage and five children have inspired her to start her company (@sage_ness).
On Her South Asian Heritage & Motherhood:
What's your background?
Indian-American, I was born in India but raised primarily in the US.
How has, or currently does your heritage play a role in your life?
My heritage influences so much of how I raise my children and our day to day routine from the food we eat, to the music we listen to and the conversations we have in our very Gujarati home. Giving our children the tools to learn, preserve and pass on our languages and culture is what inspired me to launch 'Bolo Bolo Baby'. Being able to pass on the roots of our heritage with both language and culture began at home and now through our products we are able to bring the foundation of our culture to so many more families in our community.
We love your company 'Bolo Bolo Baby', which creates products to help children learn languages such as Gujurati and Hindi. Were your kids your biggest source of inspiration for starting BBB? How have they influenced the products you've developed?
I have always been very involved in the Indian community through garba/rass (form on Indian dance) during my childhood, being the president and founder of my high school Indian club as well as through dance in my college years. But after having kids, there was this deep desire to do something more. Even though I immersed my kids in the Gujarati language at home by only speaking to them in our mother-tongue, there was still something missing. All the stuff we used to play with and explore with was in English. To fill the void, I would hand make everything like flashcards, books, and toys, that aligned with the language we spoke at home. I later made these into free digital printables on my blog and to my surprise my community wanted more! This eventually led me to designing and creating our 'Bolo Bolo Baby' products as a way to bring more language and culture into homes so children could truly be immersed in it.
Starting and running a small business is an all-consuming endeavor. What hurdles have you had to overcome over the course of your entrepreneurship journey, and what advice do you have for others who truly believe in an idea or method and want to turn it into a business?
The biggest hurdle and biggest accomplishment for me has been launching, managing and growing 'Bolo Bolo Baby' while being a full-time mom to five very young kids. Doing it all is impossible so I try to focus on what I CAN do. My biggest advice is if it's something you're passionate about, find a way to prioritize it. Be creative in the work you do and put your heart into it! It IS possible!
As a mom of five, you must have a bustling household at all times! Besides preserving language, what other aspects of your Indian heritage would you like to pass onto them or see them incorporate in their lives as they get older?
Along with language, we are really big into Indian festivals. We love celebrating them, learning about them, and making them just as special as our celebrations for mainstream holidays such as Christmas. As an Indian-American family, both our cultures play such an important role in our upbringing and the way we raise our families. Our multicultural roots inspired our 'Bolo Bolo Baby' wooden calendar with Indian festivals. I love being able to use our calendar to countdown to Diwali, Raksha Bandhan and all the other Indian festivals that we grew up celebrating.
What do you love most about South Asian fashion?
I love the simple designs, vibrant colors and rich fabrics of South Asian Fashion. Being Gujarati, I absolutely LOVE Chunya Chori (two piece outfit) - bandhani (dotted) prints are my absolute favorite.
What's your favorite thing in your closet right now, or the piece that gives you the most confidence?
I love my cotton Kurti (tunic) tops paired with a pair of skinny jeans or leggings. They always make me feel so put together while still being comfortable.
What's your go-to cocktail, spirit or drink?
Does Chai count? ALWAYS my go-to!
What are you currently watching?
We just finished watching Indian Matchmaking!
Name of the best book you've read in a while?
'Becoming' by Michelle Obama
Morning person or night owl?
Night Owl - I don't sleep.
What's 1 small thing you couldn't give up (daily ritual, accessory/personal item, etc.)?
My morning Chai!