I remember the first day when I reached Perth with 2 suitcases full of clothes to my name. It was a new city, a new country, and a new world, and I was all alone with my husband still in India, winding up his job to join me in the next few months. In my excitement to move abroad, I had not planned my move well and did not have anywhere to stay. Luckily for me, my manager at that time kindly took me in and I lived with her and her beautiful family for over a month till I found my own place.
In that month, I learned all about Australia, its culture, and the warmth of its people. But the one thing that I missed was food that I knew and ate back home on a regular basis. It eventually dawned on me that when one moves countries, you do not just carry a piece of physical baggage but also the emotional baggage of memories and stories. Over a period of time, I started to cook and write about Indian food and it sort of became a catharsis for me, a bond that reminded me of my desiness (Indianness) and who I was.
Blogging & cooking became a passion, but with no guidance or help from anyone else, I sort of had to figure out everything on my own because I had no idea where to start, how to grow & who to ask for help. Fast forward to 10 years from that day in 2019, and I now am the owner of a small business, which is an outcome of my passion & love for connecting people with Indian food and stories. It has been a journey of self-discovery and, more importantly, of a realization that one cannot grow on their own. You need the support and goodwill of others like you and around you, who not only see your passion but believe in you too.
So, I was grateful to meet two amazing south Asian women entrepreneurs, who like me, were on a path of self-discovery and were open to helping others — Poonam of The Maharani Diaries and Afra of Oh that be good.
Poonam runs a very successful Indian wedding blog in Sydney, where she brings together a mind-boggling number of suppliers to help brides put a dream wedding together. She is not just another desi but is also a fellow Chai lover, so you can only imagine the relationship was not that difficult to establish. Through her incredible network, Poonam introduced me to Afra, who runs a home bakery, where she bakes stunning designer cakes with some very unique flavors. Besides having a full-time job, baking incredible cakes & conducting cake decorating workshops, Afra is also a very switched on businesswoman. So, when Poonam suggested that we do an event together to get South Asian women to network over Chai & food, we were only happy to jump on the bandwagon.
Together, we hosted the ‘Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice’ High Tea on 24th November in Sydney, an event that celebrated the creativity & flair of South Asian women over a cup of Chai, conversations & good food. It took 3 months of extensive planning, a lot of meetings, discussions to get a host of 15 sponsors and 10 gorgeous models onboard who generously gave us not just their time but also a lot of support to make the event a success.
With this event, we tried to break the barriers that women of color face in a new country when trying to find a footing at work, life or starting a new business without any support. Our aim was to show that we all have something to offer to one another. It does not have to be something tangible or business-related; it could just be a lending ear or supporting others with ideas. It is even knowing when to ask for help and not to feel embarrassed to admit that you are not the superwoman that the world thinks we are.
Watching so many women together in a room and knowing that we had made this possible was a truly gratifying experience. One that made me realize that anything is possible if you just believe in yourself. And as long you are authentic and honest, you will always make it.
These are the people who worked with us to make ‘Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice’ a success:
Fashion Designer – Elora By Elora
Musicians – Singer Amritha & Guitarist Bineal
Jewelry – Pawan Rani Collections
Videographer – Emma Spark and Kindle
Hair & Makeup Artists – Shairy Hair & Makeup by Shairy
Hair & Makeup Artists Justine & Celine Kaur Colours
Florist – Onni Wild & Her By Amilia
Stationery Designer – Leena Ratanji Rani
Photographer – Don of Pannila Photography
Floral Garland Expert – Gana Sai Garlands
Chai – Fatema Chai Room