Ajanta Chakraborty, the co-founder and CEO of Bollywood Groove, teaches more than 30 Indian dance and fitness classes in Chicago. She also teaches kids about Indian culture through her best-selling children’s book series and online videos through Culture Groove.
- Spouse: Vivek Kumar
- Child: Ruhaan, 5
- Parenting must haves: Activity kits of all kinds—they are a great way to teach about various topics along with teaching patience and persistence, encourage creativity and more.
- Favorite places to spend a summer weekend in Chicago: North Avenue Beach and Navy Pier
You are raising a child and running two successful businesses. What’s your secret?
I reach out for help wherever I can. I wouldn’t survive a day without my son’s amazing nanny or the mom friends I have who help me maintain my sanity. And my second motto is “Good is good enough.” You can’t optimize on every aspect of your life. Let go and watch things fall in place.
In today’s society, why is it so important to raise multicultural kids?
As parents, we are all disturbed by the amount of hate and ignorance surrounding us. It is so important for us to expand the mind of our kids by teaching them about the world and the many different ways of living.
What are some ways parents can raise global children?
Make it fun! This is why a lot of our books are based on festivals because there is nothing more exciting to a child than a celebration of some sort. Same goes for exploring music and movement of other cultures. And when they truly enjoy it, they will inevitably learn more.
Some other ways would be to attend a local multicultural festival; make efforts in setting up playdates with the kid in their class with a diverse background and fill up their bookshelves at home with diverse books so that it becomes a part of your daily conversation.
How have you overcome obstacles to get where you are today?
I built the brand and the company one person at a time. A lot of people didn’t take us seriously due to preconceived notions of what Bollywood is. We were shelved under a sort of “special interest only” category and not considered as relevant for everyone. Plus, people were unfamiliar with Indian dance and culture so it was a dual challenge of educating about and marketing the services at the same time.
It took countless hours of work and an amazing community in Chicago that eventually welcomed us and became our champions.
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This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Chicago Parent. Read the rest of the issue.