DCWaleDesi and Cha Tea House Proudly Presented “Creativi-tea Fest” on September 18, 2021
Creativi-tea Fest aimed to showcase the unique local creative talent in the Washington, D.C. metro area and to inspire South Asians to pursue their creative passions whether it be as a side hustle or as a full-time venture.
Financial hardships from the pandemic have forced most Americans to make money wherever they can. Millennials are the most likely generation to have a side hustle. A recent study found that half (50%) of millennials have a side hustle, compared with 39% of consumers overall.
Creativi-tea Fest’s goal was to equip, you the entrepreneur, with the knowledge you need to reach your maximum potential. Attendees had a chance to participate in panel discussion Q&As, interact and network with leading South Asian entrepreneurs, form lasting bonds and friendships and learn about the journeys of our area’s business leaders.
1. Starting & Slaying: Positioning Yourself to Evolve Your Side Hustle to your Main Hustle moderated by Bhavna Batra Sehgal and featuring panelists Adeel Malik, Ajitha Srinivasan, and Anita Sachariah
Adeel Malik – Adeel Malik is a Pakistani-American professional photographer based in the DMV. He is the Founder & CEO of Morni Studio which specializes in wedding and fashion photography/videography. After a 10 year career in civil engineering, he turned his hobby (photography) into his primary profession. He won the “Best South Asian Photographer in DMV” award in 2019 & 2020. He also won the “Best South Asian Videographer in DMV” award in 2019. Adeel was the official photographer for Miss and Mrs. Pakistan USA and Miss India DC multiple times. He has been the official photographer for over 15 Bollywood shows/concerts in the DMV area and had the opportunity to work with celebrities like Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Katrina Kaif, and many more.
Ajitha Srinivasan – Ajitha describes her multifaceted self as an Educator, Coach, Healer-preneur, and Artist. After a successful corporate career of over 20 years, Ajitha currently balances her time between being an educator & enterprise agile coach teaching project management, Agile, leadership topics along with coaching organizations on their transformation in consciousness, a Healer-preneur serving women leaders in finding their leadership radiance via inner work and as an artist pursuing her passion in singing, modeling, and visual arts. In 2020, Ajitha was crowned as the winner of Miss. India DC 2020 and Ms. Indian Diva beauty pageants. Her purpose behind participating in them was to use the platform to share the message to others about the importance of being the change that one wishes to see around them. She is passionate about serving others in their transformational journey and believes that each one of us changing ourselves from within, by learning to love ourselves completely, is the best way to transform the overall consciousness of the planet.
Anita Sachariah – Anita K. Sachariah is a Malayali-American Mompreneur who founded BhashaKids in 2019. Being in a blended family (Tamil – Malayali, Hindi – Christian), she and her husband Arun sought to raise bilingual kids – but struggled in that they only had the English language in common. A former Learning Specialist with the U.S. government in the international development field, Anita put on her teacher’s hat and developed bilingual learning materials in Hindi, Tamil, and Malayalam. “Bhasha” means language in many South Asian languages. BhashaKids aims to help kids learn South Asian languages through English. Their goal is to grow multilingual and multicultural South Asian diaspora families. Anita lost her own mother tongue of Malayalam as a 1st generation child growing up in the U.S. and is now on a mission to prevent heritage language loss in others. BhashaKids will be expanding to 10 South Asian languages in 2022.
2. Choose to Challenge: Four DMV Desis Who Are Breaking Barriers by Following Their Passions moderated by Supreet Sohi and featuring panelists Jahanara Hoque, Muzna Abbas, Chaitanya Poloju, and Kiran Saund.
Jahanara Hoque – Jahanara is a minority in many ways in the creative industry – Muslim, Hijabi, Woman, South Asian, Bangladeshi – there is not enough creative representation, platforms, or opportunities in any of her identifiers. She has known she is an artist for as long as she can remember, as most artists do. But knowing it and owning/living it, is another battle. Within her many cultures and communities, voicing her dreams aloud was and till this day is a struggle. She has fought so hard to be able to not only pursue her passions in illustration and design but also be taken seriously for it. For the longest time, she repressed her potential because she felt as though she could never find that space to fit in therefore may be who she is is invalid. She realized that those spaces and opportunities will only exist if creatives like me continue to fight, share, and own their art. Her artwork focuses on all those parts of me. Her passion is to create art that focuses and celebrates South Asians overall, in their diversity whether it be religion, clothing, lifestyle but especially through the lens of women. She wants people to know that you can succeed and thrive as all the above and she wants to be proof of that sentiment. Through her story, her art, her voice she hopes to create and take part in platforms that prioritize the stories and creativity of other artists in their respective fields. Our cultures are so rich and vibrant, as creatives she feels it’s our job to share it with the world!
Muzna Abbas – Muzna is a Pakistani – American author who just published her first book on mental health in the South Asian diaspora titled Letters To My Brown Mother. Letters To My Brown Mother is about the struggles with mental health in the South Asian (desi) diaspora. The book details experiences of everyday South Asian immigrants and children of immigrants. She plans to use this space as a platform to speak about the importance of taking care of your mental health, especially in the South Asian communities where this is often not taken seriously. She will be sharing her experience in becoming an author and also writing and interviewing about a stigma-laden topic.
Chaitanya Poloju – Chaitanya is an Indian-American fashion model who represented India and the USA at Cannes film festival 2021, Indian actress, philanthropist, Mrs. Bharat NY 2019 pageant crown holder, pageant advisor, motivational speaker, an IT professional, and a mother of a 6-year-old daughter. Her life journey is published in many Indian newspaper articles. Her life has been a wonderful journey, how she overcame postpartum depression and now holds the power to inspire others. She wants to bring in a change in our thinking barriers and embrace life for all the challenges it throws and make ourselves stronger, empathetic and fulfill dreams we are so passionate about. She will share her journey to motivate and empower fellow women.
Kiran Saund – DMV native, Kiran Saund, is trained in professional baking arts, certified culinary arts, and is a wine sommelier. She began her career with a small baking business, then as a manager at one of DC’s favorite bakeries. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in Culinary Arts, then became certified in spirits and distillation, and earned her CMS Intro Sommelier Certification. Food and selfless service have always been at the helm of Kiran’s life – as a Sikh-American, she has spent years volunteering in communal kitchens and teaching cooking classes to locals in the community. Saund has been at the head of kitchens, prioritizing a common goal of sustaining a positive work environment while putting out the best. She continues to expand her expertise with curiosity and analysis while pursuing her entrepreneurial dreams in Washington DC. In 2020, Kiran launched her business, Saund & Snyder, offering fine dining tasting menus to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home, while donating a percentage of the profits to local causes in need and marginalized communities. Saund & Snyder was named “Washington DC’s Most Beautiful TakeOut” within its first 6 months, now they are nominated for a 2021 RAMMY award by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington DC for “Fine Dining In a Box”. Currently, Kiran is on the cusp of opening a seasonal fine dining restaurant in the West End. Throughout her career, Kiran experienced strife from her family, lack of support from the community, and has gone through a series of depressive spells. She believes a family commitment to open communication is the key to individual success without sacrificing what is most important, family.
- Art of Hennas – Art of Hennas provides henna services for weddings, events/functions, private parties, one-on-one appointments, special occasions or just for fun. She fuses her multi-cultural background to create custom Afro-Arab-Indo henna designs for any occasion! Along with henna application services, she creates and customizes one-of-a-kind henna-inspired art pieces as part of home decor and/or event ambiance.
- Ethnic Roots – At Ethnic Roots, they have a passion for fragrances that tie them back to their roots. Their store is truly a place for reliving your favorite memories presented to you in a unique form. They make an effort to bring you your favorite home decor products in an organic way. They know how to add personality to everyday items and add spice to your home.
- Gayatri Malhotra Photography – Gayatri Malhotra is a natural light, street photographer, and global health researcher. GDM Photography’s work is intended to be utilized as an advocacy tool to inspire action, spark conversation, and empower communities of color with high-quality photographs that represent them, their voices, and their lived experiences in the fight for social justice, gender equity, and human rights. Gayatri is passionate about capturing moments that document the inherent strength and resilience of women of color, including women from the South Asian community, in the media and in art, because representation matters. She is committed to using photography as a tool for social change.
- M Gallerie Decor – MGallerieDecor is the very first home decor company with unique home decor pieces that we design ourselves, we believe in delivering quality products, hand-curated pieces designed for your beautiful homes.
- Aura Beauty by Hira – Throughout history and unknown to most, nail polish has excluded many. Hira Paracha is the founder of Aura Beauty By Hira (@aura.by.hira). As a Muslim woman, she understands this void first hand. She has worked with many chemists to formulate an all-inclusive line of nail polishes. There is not another product quite like Hawa Dar! Hawa Dar Halal Nail Polish means breathable in Urdu, her mother tongue. She created Hawa Dar Nail Polishes keeping her Muslim friends, hardworking people with time constraints, children, odor and allergy sensitivities, and the environment in mind.
- Nylah and Co. – Art started off as something she did in her spare time once or twice a week. Then, as her passion evolved into a hobby she began to evolve into many different art styles. She is a self-taught artist, and she uses her internal passion for creativity in her art. Her motivation is to share her talent through means of art, jewelry, and home decor. She’s always had to balance my art with her personal life, her kids, her husband, and her job.
- Kenza Customs – A hobby turned business venture which began in the first lockdown back in 2020. Building on her passion for arts and design that she slowly gave up as she built her professional career, this business allowed Kenza to exercise her creativity whilst making her customer’s day brighter! Ran from the comfort of our own home, their small team made up of husband and wife started off with personalized plant pots and has now expanded to other products and they hope to venture out even more in the future!
- RADISH by Aminah – Growing up she always had a passion for art and over time she has developed a side business making custom shoes and apparel. Her work combines elements of South Asian culture with contemporary street fashion and I would describe my overall artistic style as “sort of rad, but not too rad” hence my brand name, RAD-ISH. Be sure to bring your white Air Forces or other white sneakers to get your custom art from RAD-ISH. They will also be doing a raffle/giveaway at their table for a pair of the Ajrak Van’s!
- Rhythmaya Dance
MC & Dholi: MC Riju
Photographer/Videographer: Sunny Hussain
Graphic Designer: Tekno Visual