Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Social Responsibility

As a parent, everytime I watch the news I shudder. The poor young woman raped and killed in India recently. Newtown. Politicians saying things like rape is impossible because the woman’s body has a mechanism to keep it from happening. Families losing their homes to foreclosure because one parent became ill.. The scary changes in our weather and environment. The devastation of Sandy.

Protests in India following the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23 year old medical student while she rode the bus home.

I tried to shelter my children from the harsh realities of the world, because I didn’t want them to grow up afraid of what the world was really like. I didn’t want to spoil their innocence. However, now as they approach adulthood, I realize that may have been a disservice.

A homeless mother and her baby
I came from very humble beginnings, worked from the age of 15, and worked hard to achieve my education. I naturally want my children to have it easier, and achieve more than I did. Not out of a sense of vanity, that I want them to be rich and famous, and have more material things. It was a sense of giving them what they needed to have happiness. I wanted them to have a top –notch education, travel the world, have a sense of healthy self esteem. I also wanted them to learn that along with privilege, is a sense of obligation and responsibility to help others, to make the world a better place.

US Ambassador at large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer
I think my eldest daughter has an innate sense of this already. When the tragic tsunami in Indonesia took place years ago, she made bracelets and potholders to sell at school to raise money for the victims. My little one dragged her Unicef box wherever she went around Halloween time, hell bent on getting those coins, forget the candy. This, however, was not my doing, and now as I approach the empty nest, I wonder, could I have done more? Teaching your children about preparing for the world is more than giving them unconditional love, the best of “things”, the best education. The gift of social responsibility, I feel, is the gift that is just as important as the others, for my children to grow up to be happy, successful adults. It’s a gift of purpose in life.
Their father and I, after our divorce, used to sit down with them and do weekly “Sunday School” sessions with them, based on Eastern Philosophy, because they were Hindu. One of the most important lessons was, you don’t honor God by just going to Church/Temple. Or by wearing a religious symbol. The way to worship God is to help others, because God is everyone. God is the homeless family on the corner, begging for food. God is the children of poverty and abuse, who don’t have the privileges to break the cycle of their circumstances. God are the women in third world countries, denied education, fearing for their safety when they leave their homes, sometimes even in their own homes. God is that beautiful bird, lying on a beach, soaked in oil, because of the irresponsibility of a big corporation. The name of the religion isn’t what’s important. It’s the actions you take that are important.
So, it’s never too late to instill a sense of social responsibility on our children…they really are the saviours of our future, the reason the Mayan doomsday theory didn’t come to fruition. They make me proud…now let’s empower them to do the right  thing.

Tragic effects of BP Oil Spill
Hell is not a place. It is a sense of regret at the end of your life for not having lived up to your potential, not having done everything you could have done to leave the world a better place than when you entered it.

Peace and love,

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Life Lessons

2013!!  Finally!  Lot’s of wonderful things happened at Alexis Gopal Jewelry in 2012Our participation in the GBK Golden Globe’s, Academy Awards and MTV Movie Awards luxury gift lounges. The Elle 360 Accessory Lounge at NYC Fashion Week. Participating in a guest panel at a lecture for the American Academy of Art, and I was the celebrity designer panelist!!  Our line being picked up by an exclusive Madison Avenue boutique, Anik NY, which was noted to be in the top 25 boutiques in New York City (ranked #2). We went through an intensive rebranding process, but it came out beautifully.

That’s not to say I’m not happy 2012 is over. There was family illness, overwhelming stress, and being stretched thin. To the point where my health was affected. So, I’m excited for the clean slate that is 2013. A blank canvas on which I will paint my masterpiece. However, 2013 started out with an interesting experience that I want to share. After just having been discharged from the hospital, and still feeling pretty poorly, there was an opportunity to meet with a buyer for a major retailer that I could not pass up. I was not well enough to drive to NYC, so I drove to a commuter train, and took Metro North in. I was so excited!! The possibilities just circled in my head, the anticipation was surreal. I prepared carefully, brought my best work, my best marketing material, my line sheets. I rehearsed in my mind my presentation. The values and beliefs behind my company, an explanation of my style, my work, a little background on who I am, and how my work would be an asset to their fine organization.

I had an appointment at 10:00am, but had to wait a while, which was fine with me. This was an opportunity of a lifetime, I was lucky to be here. Finally, I was summoned to meet the buyer. Mind you, this is not the first time I’ve met with buyers, I’ve done this many times.
I entered the sparsely decorated room, which looked like a conference room. There were several buyers there, sitting at different tables and I was directed to my buyer. I couldn’t wait to introduce myself, and start my presentation.

I was standing at the  table, looking down at this pretty 30 something year old woman, who perfunctorily introduced herself, without making eye contact. In my periphery, I could see other buyers smiling and interacting with designers. “Ok, so what’s your story?”, she asked dismissively, still not making eye contact, and I was taken aback. But I went right into my presentation, as if my life depended on it.

She barely looked at my pieces. I had mentioned that many of my pieces have some sort of spiritual imagery, and she snidely remarked “Really, Doctors are spiritual, huh?”. I knew my interaction was over at that moment, and when she commented, “Your work may be ok for boutiques, but it’s not good enough for us.”

A wave of disappointment washed over me. Not really because of the rejection, because I’ve dealt with rejection in the jewelry world, and it only lights my fire to succeed even more. The disappointment stemmed from watching one human being treat another in such a cold, demeaning manner. She looked at her watch and said, “Time’s up.” I quietly packed my things and said “Thank you for your time” and walked away.

I was so flabbergasted, I just started walking the 28 blocks to the train. Normally, my New York would have come out, and I would have made a sarcastic remark prior to leaving. But, I couldn’t. I couldn’t be like her. I felt sad, not for me, but that a young, physically attractive woman, with such an exciting position could comport herself this way. I could never address a stranger on the street this way, never mind someone in a professional setting. How sad for her. The kind of energy she put out probably made her feel superior and important. I feel sad for her because that same energy is going to repel many wonderful opportunities and people that can enrich her life. Each of us, no matter how rich or poor, sick or healthy, no matter our life circumstances, has the power and obligation to touch the lives of others in a positive way, even if it's just with a smile...

Do unto others as you would have them do to youthere but for the grace of God go I.

I still have big plans for 2013!! I pray that I never make another human being feel the way that woman made me feel that day.

Peace and love for 2013, lovelies!!!