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When we begin to curate and/or create a collection, we often draw inspiration from concepts and ideas that come to us in our everyday life. I absolutely love working with other creatives! Exchanging ideas and talking about what makes us similar and what sets us apart, can be so intriguing! From an outsider's perspective, a creative collaboration may seem like a simple idea. However, often there’s a hidden story not evidently apparent behind it that spans much deeper than what meets the eye.
When I first met Sarah and Sonia from Blend Hair & Makeup Studio, we connected right away and immediately decided to collab on a project that had nothing to do with selling our products or services. It was a fulfilling experience that we shared with a few individuals that had dealt with or knew someone who had experienced mental health issues.
We asked our followers to reach out to us and bravely share stories about how they or someone they know have experienced and dealt with mental illness. It was… an incredibly moving and humbling experience to come together with these individuals on such an intimate level. As a show of gratitude, we then got them ready with all things Blend and Banglez, followed by styling by Iman Grewal and a photoshoot with Narbir of Brown Rice Photography, who took personal and beautiful pictures of each participant.
It really is rare to meet someone and connect on such a personal level. In a way, it essentially creates a special, long-lasting bond.
I think that’s why this project means so much to me, it shares a unique angle of our connection in a whole new and different way! Sonia came by Banglez to collaborate on ideas for an upcoming shoot. She said, “We need you guys to make some pieces that are totally custom and completely different than what you’ve ever made before!” I was excited, to say the least.
The idea was born from a recent conversation Sarah and I had about the similarities we shared growing up. She and I are both born and raised Catholic girls 😉 My background being from Goa and Sarah’s being from Karachi.
In order to really understand where this collection originated I have to tell you about some of my experiences growing up. I attended a Catholic school and was the only Indian person there. Although I don’t recall getting directly teased there were often subtle ‘slip-ups’. Racist comments made about people that looked like me – forgetting I was standing right there.
Once I got to high school I started hanging out with more South Asians and that’s when I began to feel more connected to people that shared my culture. But I didn’t realize that I’d have to prove how “Indian” I really was. I found myself explaining that yes there are a lot of Catholics and Christians throughout South East Asia and yes we eat curry just like you do! I didn’t understand it because at home it felt like my parents were as Indian as they come; the way they shared stories about their childhood growing up in India, taking us to family parties where we experienced the culture, and as I mentioned – the food!
I visited family in Bombay and Goa as a child, where I saw first hand how my parents grew up. So exactly how does that not make me Indian enough? Many people would say, “You’re not Indian, you’re Goan” or tell me that Goa is an Island and not part of India. Nope, Goa is not an island and is definitely part of India. It’s a State making it just as much part of India as the 21 other states.
I was really beginning to feel a connection to my roots yet at the same time, I often felt like I had to prove myself. As an art and design student, I would find endless ways to incorporate Indian influences into my work because it was so inspiring to me. Although I could see it wasn’t always appreciated by my professors. Not Indian enough in some ways and too Indian in others? I was determined to not be forced into a category.
That’s around the time where I found a way to express myself through makeup and jewelry. It felt like a very natural progression since I was always kind of obsessed with bindis and yes you guessed it, bangles!
As an adult, I learned just how insanely complex all the different cultures, religions and not to mention languages in South Asia really are. That’s why I can now understand how there may have been so many misconceptions of this ‘exotic’ place known for its beaches. I truly relish learning about all the cultures from around the world, while also taking the time to share beautiful details about Goa. Did you know Konkani is the dialect spoken there and that it’s very similar to Marathi?
There are still times when I meet people (usually Aunties) at the store who make small insinuating comments about whether or not I’m the owner, after hearing my name is Malinda and that I’m from Goa. Luckily, my husband Hardip is from Punjab which gets me a free pass and suddenly I make the cut again lol 🙂
Once you know all this you can understand how I felt when Sonia and Sarah told me that they wanted us to design Cross jewelry for the upcoming shoot. My mind began racing, I was in awe of a concept that I felt had always been right in front of me but yet why hadn’t it been done yet? Mixing South Asian traditional stones into a cross, of course!?
As a believer of God and the Universe, I think people choose to pray or connect with their spirituality in a way that feels most comfortable to them. For me, my prayer and my passion are drawn from being a Catholic Indian.
For each piece sold a portion of the sale will benefit SOCH – Start the Conversation, a mental health initiative, from now until the end of the year.
Have a look at the collection that will be available for sale Monday, November 19th, 2018 on www.Banglez.com and many specially made pieces will be available at Blend Studio in Oakville!