Meet Sushmita Mazumdar, our first Legacy Stories project interview with an Empowered Women International Program Alumn!
Sushmita is an Arlington-based artist, writer, and educator who started her advertising and graphic design career in her native India. She worked as an art director in Mumbai for ten years before immigrating to the US to be with her husband. She left most of her personal, familial, and professional connections in India. The couple settled in Arlington and started their family.
“When my son was four, and I was expecting my daughter, my son was in preschool and said, ‘You know, I’m not really Indian. I’m American.” Sushmita was lost. “It was shocking for me because he used to speak our language…It made me start thinking. What makes my child feel that I am different from him?”
Sushmita needed a way to share her culture and heritage with her family, a tangible way to show her children their connection to India and family. Handmade Storybooks was born in 2007. These unique handmade books tell her childhood, migration, and home stories.
Others took an interest in Sushmita’s Handmade Storybooks, and she wanted to empower others to share their stories. She knew about her product – it drew from her work in advertising and art. But she did not have a background in business or entrepreneurship. Her dream was to work on Handmade Storybooks full time after her daughter went to school, but she didn’t know where to start.
Empowered Women International came to her in an email, and from the beginning, she knew she had found a place that understood her. The founder, Marga Fripp, was also an immigrant woman with children. Sushmita took the Entrepreneur Training for Success program in 2008. The community made all the difference for Sushmita.
“There’s this feeling when you migrate, this feeling of being uprooted. And you don’t know where you are going to feel comfortable again or put roots or feel grounded. I came to the US; I didn’t know anybody. I have no relatives here. I don’t know anybody except my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my husband…I never had any support system. I was managing. But when I did this training at EWI, I found this fantastic mix of learning things that will help you in the future, but all around you are these amazing women who are with you.”
Sushmita was one of EWI’s first clients to open a physical space. She opened Studio Pause in 2013. Studio Pause is a community space for art and stories where people can explore their creativity and share stories through art. She continues to foster the sense the community she found at EWI and remains in contact with many of the women she met over a decade ago.
Watch Sushmita’s interview to hear her story of migration, entrepreneurship, and storytelling
You can find Sushmita, Handmade Storybooks, and Studio Pause on her website and social media:
Sushmita Mazumdar Personal Website: https://www.sushmitamazumdar.com/
Studio Pause Website: https://studiopause.com/
Studio Pause Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/studiopausebysush/
Studio Pause Instagram: @studiopause