From wearing a Punjabi suit to my graduation, to using the bond between my grandmother and I to create ByErim Luxury Hair Oil, connecting with my roots has always been important (excuse the pun!).
I cultivated the confidence to take a leap into the unknown by creating my own business. When my product was about to launch, I faced the fear and did it anyway. My luxury hair oil company is founded on the belief that your hair is an investment. After all, you will have it for the rest of your life and need to nourish and nurture it.
So, what empowered me to be where I am today?
I will start with my grandmother, who I mentioned earlier. I have beautiful memories of her massaging oil into my hair as a youngster, something that many in Punjabi culture can relate to. This act of love and compassion, while recognising the importance of looking after kes (hair), were defining moments for me. As a result, the oil formula I created contains natural, hair-loving ingredients and has done wonders for my own tresses and helped countless others too.
Something else that empowers me is the belief that women thrive when they have the support of other women. Due to my mother passing away when I was a child, and having no sisters or aunties, there were many secrets of the feminine world that were simply unknown to me. My father, who is also my best friend, did an outstanding job of raising me but there were some things he simply couldn’t teach me about (through no fault of his own). It wasn’t until I was at university that I learned about many things and even how to wash long hair. As a result, I believe that a network of sisters can help women and girls thrive.
Another source of inspiration for me is that in Sikhi, our Gurus actively encouraged equality and we need to look no further than the legacy of strong women in our history. When I watched Chaar Sahibzaade, I was truly touched by the portrayal of Mata Gujri and felt an instant connection with her. She reminded me so much of my grandmother – a loving and powerful matriarch.
I am also excited by the upcoming 3D animation, Motherhood: The Journey of Mata Sahib Kaur, based on the extraordinary life of a formidable, female leader. Finally, the story of an incredible Sikh woman is being given a global platform. The power of a female presence is something I want every girl to experience. In fact, my social media is about ‘doing this for the girls who also grew up without a mum or sisters’. After the loss of my mother, a film about my spiritual mother would have made me feel that I was not alone and given me the anchor of a strong female role model.
I believe that it is crucial to have a visual representation of Sikh women on all platforms. This is especially important for young Asian women who do not see themselves mirrored in print or media. Mata Sahib Kaur Ji led the Khalsa army during a time when sexism and gender discrimination were endemic, yet this exemplification of equal opportunities is not the reality for modern women. Too often women are conditioned to make themselves smaller, to be less bold or less outspoken. Mata Sahib Kaur did not hold back, so why should we?
We need to envision a world where Sikhs are proud to be Sikhs, no matter where they are on their journey. Many would look at me and consider me as not ‘outwardly Sikh’ in appearance but faith is there in my heart. Open representation of the faith is needed in all its forms, in all aspects of life. The Sikhi ethos is so beautiful and deserves to be shared with the world. Having the courage to boldly represent the faith and stand by these values in our personal and professional lives is how we, and the next generation, will thrive. In meetings and interviews and on social media, I wear my kara with pride. My long hair will hopefully show others that healthy, flowing locks belong in this highly stylised world. It is also something that ties me to the special bond with my grandmother that was cultivated through my hair.
Today I stand as a truly empowered Sikh woman, the daughter of Mata Sahib Kaur and the legacy of the many inspirational women in Sikh history. I honour my grandmother and father through my successes in business and hope to give back to other females by supporting and celebrating them; and be encouraging all to connect with this special movement by @moviemotherhood.