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.
Vaishali (@sanskarteaching) the founder of Sanskar Teaching is an online platform which teaches many Indian languages and other Indian cultural classes. Indian culture is in her blood as she also performs, teaches, choreographs, and judges in many garba (indian dance) competions. In her free time she enjoys reading and crocheting. Learn more about Vaishali and how her love of Indian culture has made her business so successful.
On Her Indian Heritage:
What's your background? I am South Asian (Gujurati).
How has, or currently does your heritage play a role in your life?
I grew up in India and came to the US when I was 16 years old. When I moved here I wanted to assimilate so badly in my new world, I didn’t wanna have anything to do with my culture or language but that all changed when I had my own kids. Being a mom at 24, I had no idea on how to be one let alone a good one. What has made me be fully present as a mom has been this deep desire to bring in my faith, values and culture to my kiddos. What really made me appreciate my roots is being part of the Waldorf School System where my kids were for 12 years, where with them I too learned the value of being connected to your heritage and what sets you apart.
We love your company, Sanskar Teaching, which is an online platform that not only offers online classes for adults and children to learn languages such as Gujarati and Hindi, but also offers cultural classes that teaches aspects of Hinduism, traditions, and culture. Were your kids your biggest source of inspiration for starting Sanskar Teaching? How have they influenced your business today?
I used to drive 2 hrs one way every weekend to LA to make sure my kids would learn and attend Gujarati School, this got tiring and exhausting fast. So I started teaching them at home and then my sister’s kids jumped in and we used google hangouts in the beginning. My son actually suggested this idea of having an online language school. Yes my kids were definitely the inspiration behind this. Today my kids and my husband are the creative forces behind my business. My children share what worked for them when were learning Gujarati and what I can do better. They are both fluent in French as well and they share the tricks that worked for them in learning another non native language.
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?
I think the biggest hurdle is your own mind and your doubts. Trusting that you are good enough and your product is good enough is the first step. My best friend works with me in running this company and having someone with you who believes in you every step of the way is so important. Keep doing what you are doing with keeping your WHY in mind and not let the numbers bring you down. Appreciate and value your audience because they will actually tell you what they want and need. It is so easy to lose yourself in this space so periodic breaks to regroup and balance are essential. Yes, hard work pays off and hustling is important, but don’t forget rest, breaks and celebrating small victories is vital as well!!
For fellow South Asians and others who may be interested in learning a new culture, what would you want someone to take away or know about Indian culture from your perspective?
Many folks think of Indian Culture as yoga, colorful clothing and spices but there is so much more to this ancient wisdom. All of our rituals and traditions have so much to teach us, take the time to connect with that part of you and learn why and how of things. To me, Indian culture is about valuing and respecting all living beings around us. Treating others, the way you want to be treated and knowing that what you give is what you receive.
What do you love most about Indian fashion? Any favorite pieces/outfits growing up?
Chaniya Chori or Lehengas (top and skirt outfit) will be by far my personal favorite.
What's your favorite thing in your closet right now, or the piece that gives you the most confidence?
Once again Chaniya chori (top and skirt outfit) but my Kurtas (tunic tops) come second because of its' versatility to make me feel Indian or not.
What's your go-to cocktail, spirit or drink?
None, I don't drink.
What are you currently watching?
Life in Pieces on Netflix.
Name of the best book you've read in a while?
'Present not perfect' by Shauna Niequist
Morning person or night owl?
What's 1 small thing you couldn't give up (daily ritual, accessory/personal item, etc.)?
My chaa :) (Indian tea)