To the World of Beauty and Henna, Sumita Batra needs no introduction. She literally wrote the books on them! Sumita is also no stranger to the public eye and media as she is Co-owner of the popular beauty chain (currently at 14 salons) in California known as Ziba Beauty. She has also started her own eye & brow make-up line named ‘Sumita Cosmetics’ which has recently been launched as a global brand. A successful entrepreneur and visionary who started a beauty salon with her mum and sister when she was merely 17!
That’s when I first met Sumita – in 1988 about a year prior to the 3 dynamic women starting this successful chain of salons. In these 27 years our acquaintance turned in to a wonderful friendship, then business partners, mentor and someone I am privileged to call my sister. (That’s purely because she does not hesitate for a minute to give me a swift kick – metaphorically speaking – when I need straightening out!)
Sumita – thank you for being a Colourful Woman and for allowing me to share the Sumita that I know with the world.
Other than being known as the ‘Ziba Beauty Girl’, you are a mother of 3 gorgeous and talented children; wife to an amazing man – Jay Batra; daughter, sister, friend, mentor, social worker, a short film director/producer, author, and the titles keep adding on…
- How do you do it? How do you wear so many caps & juggle so many balls so perfectly?
I don’t really know the true answer to this question, as I am most times not really planning and thinking things through. I just do what needs to be done, and can be done, without giving it too much thought. I feel that maybe that helps me maximize my time…And it may look like I get everything done… but some balls get dropped 🙁
- Do you have a favourite roll you play or are they all equal to you?
I’m not sure I approach life as playing a “role”… I come from a perspective of solids. Not too many shades of grey. I’ve always had a very clear sense of right and wrong, and though these thoughts and ideas have evolved over time…I am still quite clear on my responsibilities and my duties. I guess this may be the Indian in me? Duty bound!
- I have seen you grow through all these relationships while you are growing on a spiritual path. What would you like to express about this?
I’ve seen my mom all my life give priority to her spirituality. I’m naturally drawn to people who are spiritual. They are like magnets to me. I am also naturally – not super close to people who are not “believers”.
- I have seen you multi-task effortlessly and you seem to have this gift of giving ‘yourself’ and ‘your time’ with no barriers or limits. What makes you do this?
I enjoy giving. I am a giver. I know no other way. It’s an instinctive and automatic reaction.
Can being selfless also have its drawbacks or does it always give you a ‘high’?
I’m not sure I am selfless. It is not always easy to give…especially to people who are ungrateful. I do my part and move on in most instances…but at times it hurts because, it’s a human tendency to want appreciation. I don’t really give to anyone, wanting something in return. I have, at times, experienced people who take and then behave like they never received anything. It hurts…I shake it off and leave them to their Karma and I do mine.
- Do you take time to recharge yourself? If so, how do you do it?
Massage and Music… I just threw myself a music party on my birthday and invited a couple of hundred people …I know – crazy…but boy was it fun. I also love to cook…it relaxes me.
- What is your sense of self? How do you see yourself?
I am crazy. I am grateful. I am blessed. I am here to make a difference. I am responsible. I am sensitive. I am loyal. I am what I am and its ok! I am happy! Did I mention, I am blessed?
- You naturally become a mentor or a role model to everyone who literally comes into contact with you. How does that make you feel?
Responsible. I don’t really seek the pressure or the attention that comes with this word “Mentor”. I do however take it quite seriously. If anyone has considered me their mentor, I have always made sure I give them all I can.
- Life is a journey, and yours definitely has been quite a fascinating one. Please share a bit of your background and how you came to be known as the ‘Ziba Girl’.
I am who I am because of my mom. She lost her job and decided to start Ziba Beauty with her last pay check and one credit card. She was just turning 40. She was in a new country, with three children and a lot of responsibility. She believed in herself and was a hard worker. I watched and learned from her. It’s been 26 years in this business and I still learn and grow every day. It’s a lot of responsibility. 200 families count on me every day. I take my job as the CEO of Ziba Beauty very seriously. It’s a daily grind, a daily challenge. My mantra – ‘must get it done one step at a time.’ Onward!
- What drives the entrepreneur Sumita?
What drives me is legacy and a sense of accomplishment. Saying I am going to do it and then getting it done! My word means a lot to me. My commitments are part of my honour. I drive me.
- Your energy and your creativity know no bounds…you are constantly creating… a product, a strategy, a party, a book, beautiful children…..What is your secret? Man these are tough questions. I have never really thought about them and I find it second nature to do all this. I can relate to the Apple Ad – The Crazy ones…written by Steve Jobs.
What makes you ‘tick’ like that? I like to surround myself with positive quotes, sayings…I find solace and peace in inspirational words. They help me in many ways.
- Top 5 Tips on being a (Female) Entrepreneur.
- Work long and hard
- Hire slow-fire fast
- If it’s to be – It’s up to me!
- If you want to get something done, ask the busy one – the other kind has no time
- Common sense is really not that common
- The highlights of being a woman for you…
My babies – of course. They hit a chord in me that is impossible to explain…yet every mother gets it.
- The top 5 things you enjoy about being a mother…
- Watching them grow
- Watching them fall and get back up
- That moment, where they learn a lesson, and understand the consequence of their actions
- Their laughter
- Realizing that they got “this – whatever it is” from me…
- Sumita, you have also been beside me through all the most poignant phases of MY life…. milestone birthdays, heart breaks, being my make-up and hair-stylist for my engagement in London, being by my side in India for my wedding, and to top it all…….. it was you who happen to be with me for the first few hours of my labour… which coincided with a business trip in London. What drives you to be such a loyal, committed & dedicated friend… to any/all of your friends?
I know no other way Anupa. I am blessed and happy that I can be and do whatever possible for the ones I love. I don’t believe it’s me…I am a vehicle God uses to get stuff done. I believe we all are. Internally my conversation is…if I can do it…I do it. It’s that simple for me.
- Your Top 5 beauty tips
- Know what you like and stay with it
- Be your age – I’m not one for too much cosmetic enhancements
- Be happy – it shows on your face
- Once wrinkles show up – avoid powder
- Add highlighters to the cheekbones to reflect away from dark circles.
- Your Top 5 make-up/skin care products – hmmm…. without the bias of your own product line of course – (btw, I used your Sumita Face Mask last week and have been told that I am ‘glowing’ by a few friends).
- Chanel – Concealer & Foundation
- Dior Lip Liner
- Guerlain – anything!
- MD Solar Skincare – prevent skin cancer
- Trish McEvoy Brushes
- Your Top 5 Tips on Marriage/Relationships
- Let it go
- Say sorry and mean it
- Compromise – It means to truly give the person the gift of something you don’t want to do without resentment
- Forgive – for your own sake
- Give your happiness a priority. If you are not happy – you have no happiness to offer to anyone. This happiness is not gotten nor dependent on anyone but yourself.
- You have recently been working on 2 fascinating projects: Namas Kaar & Em Didi. Please could you share with us your motivation behind each one respectively?
Namas Kaar – A Sikh documentary discovering the answers to why we do some of the basic things we do in the Sikh faith. The goal in this film was to create a dialogue and showcase the meaning behind the things we do in our temples and our religion to respect their importance. I don’t think you can respect something if you don’t understand it.
Em Didi – Sisters : A vocational training program teaching the Art of Threading & The Art of Mehndi in Siem Reap Cambodia to victims, survivors and “at risk” young ladies of human trafficking. This documentary shares our journey, as we travel and discover as a group that it was not really “us” that gave these young ladies anything…but rather, we received so much more from them. ‘Em’ means little sister in Vietnamese, and ‘Didi’ mean big sister in Hindi. We created a symbiotic mentor and big sister/little sister relationship between these young ladies, in the hopes that they can teach these art forms forward, and earn a living from them. We partnered with an organization called Senhoa to do this venture. www.senhoa.org/
Senhoa Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to combating modern slavery through long-lasting partnerships with excellent local partners. Our programs in support of vulnerable persons and survivors are delivered in conjunction with on-the-ground partners.
- Do you have a mentor? What is the most powerful thing they said or did that has impacted you?
Yes, my mom. I have also had several business mentors throughout my career. Each one has taught me something. But my mentor is my mom. I have learned everything about who I am from her. My spirituality, my strength, my parental skills, my survival skill, my business acumen…I can go on and on. I dedicated the Celine Dion song – “I’m everything I am – because you love me” to her on her 45th birthday. It applies today too. Every word.
- If you look back at your life (w)holistically, is there anything you would change or do differently?
I have wasted my time on a few people – that taught me some tough lessons. I would not undo all of it…but I made the lesson longer than needed. I should have moved on a lot faster than I did. I’ve learned and now move on faster when things don’t feel right.
- Do you feel like you have ‘arrived’ in most aspects of your life or is there still a journey of improvement in any specific area?
I have arrived – and it is a mental state I have had for years. One would think it has to do with finances…but for me … it has to do with milestones. Every milestone I’ve met has delivered for the feeling of – I have arrived.
- What is your weak point… if you have any?
I have many weak pointsJ. I have a temper, and if and once I lose it…its not a pretty sight. I also shut down on people. It’s not healthy but it’s my coping mechanism. I keep trying to work on my weaknesses, my fears. One step at a time, one day at time.
- When you and I were launching ‘A Beautiful Event’ in 2000, our mothers separately sat us down and gave us a talk on friendship and business and how the latter can damage the former. They reminded us that we had a very special friendship and that we should not risk losing it by going in to business together. We had a chat about it and decided they were right but we were still going forward with the business anyway and were conscious of not hurting the friendship. Sound advice that we carried with us. Would you leave us with a thought or a quote to live by?
We come to this world to make a difference. We each have a part to play. The moment of consciousness when we realize that part is an amazing moment. Seek it, look for it and you will find it. You will know that this was what I was born to do, and do not give up until you find it. It is totally worth it.
Thank you again Sumita. I am sure all our readers will be inspired and motivated by your experiences and advice.