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February 27, 2021 #MINNAatHome

#MINNAatHome with Manpreet Kalra

Meet friend, consultant, and educator, Manpreet Kalra. Last summer ⁠MINNA founder and creative director, Sara, and marketing team member, Lucille, took a webinar with Manpreet on inclusive storytelling. Ever since, Manpreet has been meeting with Sara and the team on a regular basis, advising and inspiring in a way that makes even the most daunting tasks exciting.

Challenging industry ideals and practices daily, Manpreet promotes new trains of thought and encourages new methods and processes and we could not be more excited to share her words on home and practice with you on the journal.

Tell us about you!
Oh my, what would you like to know? I am an anti-racism educator, social impact advisor, activist and writer. Raised in Silicon Valley, I worked in the world of venture capital and startups in my past life. But alas, that is a story for another time!
Present day, my work is driven by my passion to decolonize storytelling. My activism focuses on the interconnectivity of economic, social, and climate justice. I am the granddaughter of refugees displaced during the partition of Punjab in the 1940s and the daughter of immigrants who survived the 1984 Sikh Genocide. My identity as a Punjabi Sikh is important for me to recognize because it shapes the lens through which I approach my work.
I believe education is a powerful tool, but only if it is made accessible. Which is why, I try to use a variety of mediums, including my podcast Art of Citizenry, to encourage nuanced and unfiltered conversations on building a more just and equitable future. I am an academic at heart with a passion for history.
All that aside, most importantly I am a dog mom to our 11 year old rescue, Bobo, who has all of us wrapped around his cute little paw.

How would you describe your home and your approach to making it feel like home?
Before the pandemic hit, my partner and I were frequently away traveling around the world (sometimes for work, other times for fun or family). Being away so much, our home became our sanctuary — a compilation of our collective journey. We try to capture the relationships we nurture during our travels (and beyond) through art, which brought our home together as a reminder of memories and stories we hold close to our hearts. Our home is cozy, it’s practical, but it’s also regenerative. Our home inspires us — it is where I write, where I sit with my thoughts, and where I process my emotions. We live in a small place in the heart of Seattle and at the end of the day, no matter where we are in the world, our home is where we come back to recalibrate and just be. Our home is simply home.

What are three words to describe your aesthetic?
Thoughtful, Regenerative, Earthy

At MINNA we believe in creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good - how do these concepts relate to or inspire you?
Doing good can only happen if we think about equity and justice. Which is why it is important for brands to challenge the status quo around what it means to be an ethical business. I believe doing good is about more than intention, it’s about recognizing that sustainable impact is a process and one that cannot be accomplished alone. It requires listening, and supporting the work being led by communities, instead of imposing our own understandings of right and wrong on them. There is so much in the world that connects us all, but that connectedness is often overshadowed by internalized differences rooted in our subconscious understanding of power and privilege. Challenging these understandings by elevating the art of artists who are not traditionally seen as “artists” in the global landscape is what I personally appreciate the most about MINNA. Art is a universal language, one that can communicate across cultural and linguistic bounds and that is what I love about working in the world of handmade.

What is a favorite memory of yours in your home?
My partner and I have been living in the same place since we got married. To pick any one memory feels unfair since the memories of all the ups and downs of our life together fills the air we breathe in our home. Together, we have grown as individuals and as a couple in our home. We have shared laughs, we have danced to the music of our hearts, cuddled on the sofa with Bobo, and cried together. That’s what makes this home, our home, our first home, our present and probably forever fondest memory. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I grew up with the privilege of having two incredibly nurturing parents who never fell short of providing me with advice whenever I needed it (even if I didn’t want it!). The best advice I got though was never spoken, instead it was encouraged through gestures. My parents always did and continue to encourage me to write. My mom would always remind me to write in my diary as a little girl. Though I was not the best at keeping up with a diary, that advice to document my thoughts and let my inner creative come to life through language has been a powerful creative practice. One that has become the essence of my work.