About Rasshmi Kansupada

Name : Rasshmi Kansupada

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An Irving/Las Colinas resident from last 15 years, I am Rasshmi Kansupada, mother of 2 exceptionally loving boys, wife to a great husband, banker by profession,  a Radio Jockey, columnist of “Rendezvous with Rasshmi” in the Toppick magazine, dancer, Mumbaikar at heart, a true Sagittarian with a penchant to seek humor in all walks  of life. A go-getter who believes in joie de vivre.  I love to interview people from all walks of life for my column Rendezvous with Rasshmi. I am a person who is positive about every aspect of life. There are many things I like to do, to see, and to experience. I like to see the sunrise in the morning, I like to see the moonlight at night; I like to feel the music flowing on my face, I like to smell the wind coming from the ocean. I like to look at the clouds in the sky with a blank mind, I like to do thought experiment when I cannot sleep in the middle of the night. I like to be alone, I like to be surrounded by people. I like country's peace, I like metropolis' noise; I love my Bindass Bollywood fitness class And I love to laugh till tears come rolling down!!

Rendevous with Rasshmi: THE AGE OF NO RETIREMENT!! Padmaja Kulkarni
Welcome to RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI . A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community… yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!

Do you think that life ends at seventy and the fun is over? Do you think that after retirement there are only knitting and soap operas left? It turns out, that once you grow old, you have the spare time to actually do what you love, learn new skills, travel and follow your dreams. Above all, though, it's not age, but attitude that defines us.

My guest Padmaja Kulkarni at 77, is a calendar girl, model, actor, folk singer and dancer, all rolled into one. An epitome of grace and energy, Padmajaji has added many feathers to her cap at this age and she is still raring to go miles ahead. Her maiden name is Lata Damle, daughter of prestigious Damle family from Khanapur near Belgaum. As a youngster, she took part in Samyukta Maharashtra movement. She led a socially repressed life in a traditional joint family for over five decades. Yet she is surprisingly upbeat. You would wonder why till you realize it is precisely because of her suffering that she found a creative outlet and redemption in Bharud, a traditional art form that dramatizes social and familial issues.

Traditionally performed by men, and sung not danced, Bharud is a popular Maharashtrian folk art, which are songs first written by Sant Dnyaneshwar in the 12 th century and were made popular by Sant Eknath in the 16 th century. These songs have two meanings-one materialistic and the other spiritual. Despite opposition from the male bastion, at the age of 50 years, Padmajaji formed her own group of 15 women in 1994 to perform the Bharud folk art after surviving a major spine operation. Om Shri Maa Bhagini Bharud Mandal, as it is called, and which was formed by the encouragement of her Guru, Maltibai Joshi, is the country’s first all woman troupe of its kind and also has a mention in the Limca Book of world Records.

It has not been a cake walk though for Padmajaji behind her success. The idea to include women in society and to give them a status was the prime thought of her being drawn towards this art form. Her family was never keen on her interests and she often faced tussels. But she believed in always flowing against the current. Her initiatives broke several barriers, not only was she the first woman to dare to perform Bharud, but she was also the first one to add dance to the art form. Rather than lose heart because of the opposition, she used it all in her song writing. Her adaptations of the Bharud songs are laced with humor however the underlying pathos is evident, pointing to an era when women did not have a voice. That her performances draws large crowds of women even today is a reminder that our social fabric may have changed but superficially. She feels that things have changed today but women liberation in its complete sense is yet to be achieved. Her songs are also well known for their social messages such as tree conservation and fighting child marriages.

Not one to mince words, she is clear about her ethical stance. She has performed all over India and gone on tours to US and UK. One of her notable performance has been at Pune’s Yerwada jail, where after the performance all the women took a pledge to reform themselves and Padmajaji really felt accomplished that her art had been upheld. She feels that through this folk art, she can bring to light various issues related to women in society. She also composes powada popular Maharashtrian lok geet based on women of today’s generation and on great warriors like Tararani and Jhansi ki Rani. She wishes to spread the message of such brave women through her writings and performances. She has also written mangalashtakas, mantras recited during a wedding which again have a modern day touch. She recites palane which are songs sung to mark the birth on occasions like Ram Navami and Krishna Janmashtami.

Padmajaji has also been a very active social worker. As and when possible, she helps the students who are physically challenged, gives free tuitions to children and spread literacy among women living in the  slums. She has also helped women open bank accounts and take steps towards financial independence. She has received numerous awards for her social inclinations. She has featured in ads for popular brands such as Mc Donalds, Airtel, Dominos Pizza and has had her tryst with Bollywood movies too. She also savours the art of cookery and has featured in popular cookery shows.

Today too she practices for an hour everyday and focuses on teaching other female performers. She has already trained over 500 women in the art and hopes that the legacy will go on. Though unique in her abilities, she lives an austere life. Her youthfulness is showcased in her spontaneous acts in front of the mirror. Padmajaji believes that like Bharunda the mythical two headed bird that is believed to symbolize good luck, her life has been divided into two phases and the second has redeemed the melancholy of the first. Sobriqueted as African Damle, she has not only been a pioneer in safeguarding this age old culture but through it also restored and polished the old skills of social education and enlightenment.

The secret of a genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means NEVER LOSING YOUR ENTHUSIASM!!
Rasshmi Kansupada  Sep-2019   854   0

Winners Never Quit : Uma DeviReddy in conversation with Rashmi Kansupada

Have you ever wondered why minorities are underrepresented in your favorite Game of thrones show? Similarly, have you ever wondered why there is under representation in your work environment or in the world around you? Or have you ever felt like you are being seen but not heard? If any of these questions resonates with you then my thoughts in this article might garner your interest.  

I have been working for 22 years for companies ranging from nimble startups to fortune 500 firms in entry level to middle management roles. My work experience makes me uniquely qualified for penning my thoughts about diversity and inclusion.  In my most recent experience working with a major financial institution service I was fortune enough to have worked in various teams from technology to business giving me the insight into a diverse perspective of different teams. Through my experience I have learnt that it is not just being represented or the not being represented but, the real question is are we  being heard. I have over years felt like I have had to work extra hard and constantly prove my worth to be accepted. I questioned if my challenges and struggles were due to diversity being looked at as a detriment rather than as a strength. 

As I shared my experiences with others, people started sharing their experiences and it seemed evident that it an epidemic concern that still needed to be addressed. Many felt like there still was an invisible limitation that pulled them down from moving up the corporate ladder or being heard. Although there has been a lot of work that has been done towards Diversity and inclusion, it felt like there still is a lot that can be done.  

According to the annual 2018 diversity report, 66.8% of all jobs are held by men while 33.2% are held by women.  Based on Quantum Impact’s diversity report, one out of every five organizations (20 Percent) do not have a single woman serving on their leadership teams. These number are even worse for women of color. Only 4 percent of the top corporate jobs are held by women of color. As interesting as these numbers are, these numbers totally substantiate my experience.  

Studies have shown that diverse workforce not only brings creative thinking and a fresh perspective but also increases company’s bottom line. A recent Clover Pop research study conducted over a 2-year span with 200 business units showed inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time. While these numbers for average teams were 66%. Decision made and executed by diverse teams were successful over 60% of the times.    

Based on my experience, here are a few things I think absolutely needs to be done for us to be able to see some real change. 

1.       Leaders need to go through a training so that they become aware of their subconscious bias

2.       Organizations should consciously make efforts to hire diverse leaders in executive roles

3.       Leaders should consciously make efforts to interact with diverse team members. Leaders should ask themselves, who do they sit next to when they enter a meeting room? If you are looking for someone to go out and eat lunch with, who are you drawn towards?  Make conscious decisions to be inclusive in your choices

These numbers and facts were call to action for me. I felt compelled to do something about Diversity and Inclusion. While there are many organizations that have started to do great work in this phase of diversity and inclusion, I still feel like a lot of work needs to be done. I am influenced to continue this work not only for me and many like me but also for leaders of tomorrow.

To move these efforts forward, I created a forum for us called Inside the Diverse Mind to address this epidemic concern of diversity and inclusion. Inside the Diverse Mind is a talk show featuring successful leaders in 45-minute episodes that will be telecast bi-weekly on YouTube and Facebook.  Our focus at Inside the Diverse Mind is to educate and encourage leaders to be conscious and intentional about Diversity and inclusion in their hiring and leadership decisions. Our goal is to educate our future leaders and our next generation to learn the skills to be more inclusive.  

Leaders from various organizations have come forward to support and participate in our show already making the right strides towards a better and inclusive diverse world. 

Please like our Facebook page @insidethediversemind to stay updated on our upcoming shows.


Rasshmi Kansupada  Jun-2019   569   0

RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI: Age is just a number Arti Akila Saran
Welcome to RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI . A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community…yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!

Enjoying retired life means different things to different people. Perhaps you’re looking forward to taking up new hobbies or traveling more – or maybe for you this is the perfect time to dive head first into a new startup venture. My guest Arti Akila Saran came to the US, 45 years ago, along with her husband with a ton of youthful obtuseness which helped them see only the possibilities of America and none of the challenges of making it in a new country where they had no family and friends. Her achievements make success stories which are worth reading and sharing.

Born and brought up in Nagpur Maharashtra, Akilaji came to America at a time when India was widely regarded as the very epitome of what the term “Third World” meant – decrepit, destitute and pitiable. Americans were inclined to the view that India was pretty jammed with poor people and cows wandering around streets, witch doctors and people sitting on hot coals and bathing in the Ganges. She joined Nursing School in Palo Alto California, and after training for 4 years she became a registered Nurse. Her nursing experience was extremely good and rewarding. She also completed her surgical technology course and assisted her husband in his practice as an eye specialist.

Akilaji always wanted to work independently. Being an entrepreneur can be an exciting and liberating endeavor. Many people have ideas for a business or product, but only a few take the leap and open a new business. She bought her friend’s shop in Trader’s village and began her business of selling jewellery, toys and general merchandise. She stayed there for a couple of years and then decided to start her own wholesale business in 1982 in Arlington Texas. She used to sell various items including leather products and knives and tools. She dared to migrate to entrepreneurship at a time when global exposure was scarce and the understanding of consumer behaviour in the US was limited. Women of color faced additional and unique obstacles in almost every area of society, including business. Women from minority backgrounds who wanted to start their own businesses were up against more hurdles. These entrepreneurs typically didn’t have a network of professional mentors to support them. They had more family responsibilities to balance and they had a much more difficult time accessing money, which is obviously key to a business’s future success.

Most of the goods were not available locally and had to be imported which involved a lot of struggle but Akilaji was determined to become a very successful business woman. She used to have customers asking for different tools and hardware. Her enterprising outlook motivated her to expand her horizon and she attended shows in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and various other cities in the US. She was receptive to new ideas, did her research and bought goods from as far as China and India. She then moved to Harry Hines in Dallas, TX in 2005. She has been doing her business successfully from past two decades.

She believes that one should embrace the failures and the mistakes as they all serve as an opportunity to learn. We should be courageous and chase our dreams through perseverance. Persistence really pays off, and everything takes time. That is why it’s so important for one to believe in and feel passionately about what one is creating or offering.

Running a business isn’t easy -- it takes hard work and discipline to reach success. Being an entrepreneur is the ultimate test of independence. You are the only person responsible for your successes or failures. Akilaji has used the power of business to make a positive change to society. She has taught us not to count ourself out, no matter what our age. Success can come to anyone at any time. She really believes that age is just a number. If one is healthy physically and mentally, your age should not be a barrier to starting anything new or pursuing your passion.

"Entrepreneurship has no age or time limits...it thrives on hope and inspiration. Those who choose to participate can only make the world a better place."
Rasshmi Kansupada  May-2019   623   0

Journey of Ruby Bhandari - Silk Thread
Silk Threads, Inc. began 28 years ago as the answer to an unmet need among second- generation Indians in America who were growing up without access to the designs of their homeland. Ruby Bhandari (voted as D Magazine’s 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas in 2013), founded this Company out of her personal desire (and need) for fashionable ethnic wear that not only reflected her Indian heritage, but also spoke about her Western sensibilities.

In 1989, as Ruby prepared to go to The University of Texas at Austin, her father asked what she planned to do for a living. She initially said social work. However her father had other plans; he said she could study engineering, law, pre-med or business. They compromised on a degree in finance and accounting.

“I’ve always wanted to help other people,” Ruby says, “and I’ve always had a passion for fashion.”

Her love of fashion took root early and never let go. She began cutting and stitching fabric as a teenager, and in college, she enjoyed designing so much that she couldn't wait to graduate from the UTA to start a business. Silk Threads was born while she was a sophomore at UTA in 1991.Ruby met her husband, Raj Bhandari, when she was a  freshman. At that time, there were very few Indian clothing companies in the U.S., so when they travelled to India to meet Raj’s family, Ruby designed some clothes of her own. She assembled them with the available materials that her future mother-in-law had showed her in a tour of New Delhi, brought the finished garments back home to the States and began selling them. She would operate her business out of the trunk of her white Lexus Sports Coupe, all while finishing school. It looked so much prettier in presentation, and everyone would think that she was really doing well for herself being in the business for barely two years. Her trunk would be empty at the end of every week. Later, however, when sales dwindled, she realized she needed new customers. So she went to a tiny local Indian grocery store with a rack of clothing. She was very disheartened and dejected as she had all her clothes smelling of Indian masalas and she managed to sell only three outfits in the first week. Raj, her knight in shining armour, motivated her and accompanied her the next week wherein they sold five outfits. Sales slowly grew and finally they exploded.

On one of the couple’s later visits to India, Ruby started working with her sister-in-law to open a fabric company and manufacturing units in India. They knew there would be a lot of trade involved, however, they underestimated the amount of effort they needed to do. Every garment imported to the U.S. needed a label classifying the material and where it was from. In 1991, when Ruby sent her first shipment of clothing back to the U.S. It was halted at customs in DFW as none of her 240 garments had the required tags. She was devastated as her stuff was going to be stuck at the airport for 10 days and paying a storage fees of $50 per day meant a humongous amount of expense. A sympathetic customs officer gave Ruby the idea to buy her own labels and write on them with a permanent parker. It is truly said that God helps in various ways, her wonderful friend Gauri helped her and in 25-degree temperature [inside the warehouse]!, with their gloves on and their needles and markers in hand, they hand-wrote 240 tags: “100% silk, Made in India, Dry Clean only”. They would take off their gloves, stitch a few tags, wear the gloves back on so they could feel their fingers again and then stitch some more. She fondly remembers these teething hardships which helped her emerge a winner in any situation.

Over the years, with a lot of struggle and with the courage to continually step into new and challenging areas, Bhandari moved the business from her Irving home to a nearby apartment and then to a studio in Dallas. Her showrooms are awash in color and sparkles. Now, almost three decades later, Silk Threads has full dress, tunic and bridal lines (all of which have their tags!) and serves a wide variety of clients across the country. Ruby does not just want to create garments – she is obsessed on taking the timeless elements of Indian culture – the vibrant colors, the opulent weaves, the regal fabrics, the graceful motifs and the exquisite styles of embroideries – and bring them to a wider audience. Decades before Hollywood discovered Indian artisanal weaves and embellishments, Ruby had started innovating, using a mix of traditional and modern design elements to bring to her clients one of a kind pieces – each of which could tell a different story. She travels extensively throughout the year, and her products can be found in various stores. They even have a show room at the Dallas World Trade Center. The Silk Threads brand includes custom dresses, exclusive ethnic wear, Bridal trousseaus, and Men’s custom wear, all complemented with elegant accessories, with three primary lines:

Silk Threads by Ruby Bhandari, dealing primarily with bespoke ethnic wear – Salwar Kameez, designer Sarees (or saris), bridal Lehenga Cholis, as well as formal ethnic menswear. Silk Threads is recognized as one of the leading designers of ethnic Bridalwear in the country – helping brides nationwide bring their trousseau dreams to fruition.

Ruby B Collections provides high-end tunics and custom dresses, including mainstream Bridal trousseaus. The tunic line is available at over 400 high-end boutiques around the world.

Silk Threads Menswear by Ruby Bhandari is the fusion menswear line, providing custom ethnic Sherwanis to fusion Partywear to discerning gentlemen around the globe. "Color makes me happy," says Ruby, "My clothes are very vibrant and what mainstream America would like to wear."

Ruby’s work has received glowing reviews in ethnic as well as mainstream press, including CBS, ABC, FOX, Women’s Wear Daily, Home Decor, Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, India Today, etc. She is also a frequent guest on radio and TV shows, giving her input on current fashion trends and celebrity dressing and helps produce major Fashion Shows. Ruby’s designs are worn and appreciated by several Bollywood celebrities as well.

She believes in the importance of “designing your own life” despite what those around you might say. This required Ruby to have a positive mindset when she was facing her biggest challenges. This entrepreneurial mindset not only helped Ruby succeed in her own business, it has also inspired her to give back through several charities—just like she had always wanted. Along with creating, the Bhandaris believe in giving back to the community. They host an annual fashion show to benefit a local charity.In 2017, they were able to set up a UT Dallas scholarship for the arts to support enterprising young artists from the proceeds of their Annual Gala. In September 2018, they raised funds to benefit Mosaic Family Services, a nonprofit that helps victims of human rights abuse. They have also worked with local and national charities like Children’s Advocacy of Collin County, American Cancer Society and Indo-American Cancer Association. “If you have passion for something, you can probably go for it. But having the correct knowledge, the correct management and a plan are so important,” Ruby says. “There’s so much unhappiness out there. The way to create happiness is to follow your passion.”
Rasshmi Kansupada  Mar-2019   855   0

Bringing Nature Back To Beauty!!
Welcome to RENDEZVOUS WITH RASSHMI . A page dedicated to ordinary people of our community…yes ordinary, but with that Xtra ordinary talent, achievement and that inspiring Xfactor!!

If you were the kind of kid who sat in the yard mixing potions with water, flowers, plants and fruits(what we now call naturally-sourced materials) and imagining all of the uses for your concoctions, then you would be able to relate to my guest Mukta Ghoshal, the founder of No.1 Natural Beauty.

Did you know you can absorb more toxins from personal, skincare and hair-care products than from food? Your skin is the largest organ in your body — and also the thinnest. Less than one-tenth of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Just about anything you put on your skin will end up in your bloodstream and will be distributed throughout your body. There are so many key phrases we’re told to look for when shopping for our makeup and skincare: natural, organic, chemical-free, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly. If only all of them were easier to decipher, skincare shopping would be a lot easier. 

Well, lets meet Mukta our green environment crusader who firmly believes in the very old tradition, proven over years, of treating skin and hair with fresh and natural formulations. Right from childhood she was always interested in taking care of her skin and hair and was known in her family for always digging into natural ingredients and mixing and applying them day and night. Her curiosity & creativity in fashion, particularly in skin and hair kept growing and led her to try out freshly formulated facial masks and henna applications on family members and friends in the neighborhood eventually earning her some pocket money which surely meant a lot to her at that time. She would be showered by compliments in parties for her lustrous hair and even had incidents when people would actually come and pull her hair to make sure it was really thick and shiny. This made her feel more confident to stand out in the crowd and slowly started participating in local fashion shows and college events where she earned few titles like & Ms Crown & Glory”, Ms. Gorgeous Hair and was even offered modelling assignments.

She moved to Dallas TX in 2013 from Shenzhen where she was an English language teacher and had proved her mettle and also earned the title of one of the topmost English Corporate Trainer in the daily newspaper. She also acquired fluency in the Chinese language. The move was not easy for her especially to accept a career breakdown from being an independent woman to having to start afresh. She soon realized that each situation comes with a challenge and with a smile she began to recollect her childhood passion of love for nature and she decided to do something different with a combination of passion and her knowledge of being a Botanist(Bachelors in Plant Study). She did online research, some self learning courses and educated herself on natural formulations. She soon began processing in her small kitchen, turning it into a mini lab, making face masks, serums and hair oil and tested on herself and also invited friends to try them. Initially it wasn’t that easy to convince anyone to try it out but she always keep it transparent to all and took them to her kitchen and formulated right there after testing their skin and hair type.

In 2016, she began her Green customised beauty line No.1 Natural Beauty Organic Skin and Hair after many word of mouth recommendations. She printed simple flyers, knocked every store and attended events to reach out and bring about awareness about her products and services. Managing an all-natural skincare line involves a lot of hard work and creative thinking. All her products are customized as per skin and hair type. They are freshly made of pure botanical extracts and world exotic herbs in fresh or dried form, are free from any preservatives, artificial fragrance or additives and are completely chemical free. With regular use of No.1 Natural Beauty products, one is assured of high purity but over time would be benefited with overall wellness as her products focus towards holistic approach by which not only one gets the freshness but overall more focus and feels more energetic and relaxed. She works in hand with each client with regular follow ups. Her focus is not to generate revenue rather count on each clients benefited result which is an achievable target. With no frill and fancy packaging, she tries to minimize her cost and provide quality service and product to fit into every budget. She has a well equipped mobile vehicle and offers her services in the comfort of one’s home and within flexible hours. She is a perfect model for her products as her skin surely defies her age. She aims to create a brand that involves discovery, learning and sharing.

We are all born with great skin and gorgeous hair but as we age we start loosing elasticity or rather say cell degeneration. Hence avoiding any harsh chemicals would be the first step to go Natural. The call of the hour is to be environmentally responsible. Nature has abundance in the most purest form, so there should not be any room for any chemically processed products. Natural beauty is the best make up one can have. Accepting the fact that we all are aging each day, in Mukta’s words “Lets age gracefully with fine lines on a radiant skin and gorgeous grey lustrous hair”.
Rasshmi Kansupada  Feb-2019   1043   1