Today we’d like to introduce you to Zabina Bhasin.
Zabina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I always knew I wanted to inspire the world, motivate others, and especially help women and children. Growing up in a culture where women were not taken seriously, a child’s feelings or dreams meant even less, I had two strikes against me: I was a girl and a child in everyone’s eyes.
In my heart I knew where I wanted to go, even if it would be a more difficult road than normal. Divided between American and Indian cultures, I took the best that both cultures had to offer. I also grew up in an area that was rich and diverse, surrounded by the Korean, Guatemalan, Mexcian, Japanese and Pakistani communities. Living in a multicultural city like Cerritos had definitely inspired me where I am today. So it was not surprising throughout my schooling I was very involved with International clubs and groups.
As a first-generation American of immigrant parents, education was a priority, but very difficult for me. I lived for many years struggling with Dyslexia which my parents did not recognize as a problem. As South Asian we are told about 3 career paths, Doctor, Engineer, or Lawyer. Anything else is not even a consideration. Living with intense parental and cultural expectations to be academically excellent made accomplishing my dreams, and theirs, an internal struggle.
The day came in high school to make a decision on college, my SATs were not great, GPA was above average, but nothing to say I am going to an Ivy league or a school my parents could show off about. Summer of Senior year I decided it was Medical school in India that allowed me to really get away from home and prove to the whole world I can do something big. Later on, I realized, wasn’t I really doing it for me, I wanted to prove something to the world. Everything happens for a reason and in this journey becoming a physician taught me patience, culture, gratitude and in every path, there are many directions to take.
Raising my two beautiful children in a multicultural home in the United States helped me arrive at my purpose. As a physician, I learned to treat others with respect, and my mission and passion has always been to teach children to be aware of cultures belonging to others, as well as their own. My commitment to this mission evolved as I later became a mother. I knew that through my children I had a specific opportunity to impact the world. I made it a point to give them the tools to accept every individual as they are.
I manifested InKidz xx with love, a brand dedicated to teaching people to champion diversity and to create connections through culture, starting with Kidz. InKidz educates tomorrow’s generation about cultural diversity and embracing individual traditions with culture boxes, toys, and tools.
I strive to inspire and motivate not only children and women but all people. My journey towards uplifting women and elevating children began with becoming a physician and that was only the beginning. I subsequently launched HappyHER, a non-profit organization for women by women to support women. This community is for all women, old and young, married or not, working or stay at home, to come together and help each other to grow. As a community, we share stories from fierce females, as we work towards breaking stigmas, and empowering each other. The goal is to share stories and create a community that can provide guidance and support for women of all ages. HappyHER brings women of all ages, cultures, races, and backgrounds together to learn, guide, and evolve for a better tomorrow.
What were you like growing up?
I grew up in a middle-class family; from the outside, it looked like a typical Indian family. Dad was an engineer; mom was a stay at home parent who later became a teacher. I was daddy’s little girl, a borderline spoiled brat.
We grew up with lots of family support, family friend support, and a strong belief in God and religion. I am Sikh by faith, but my Dad teaches us that God is one, and we respect & accept each person as they are. I was raised to be loving, generous, and to help everyone around me. While this came from my parents, their values bred a desire to influence the world, motivate myself and all around me. If we take one step towards being good, then someone else will as well.
We always had members of our extended family living in the house, mostly from my mom’s side. It meant that there were a lot of boys in the house, that created some friction in my life because I was always the only girl in the household of brothers and boy cousins, looking for my place. So my formative years were being a tomboy, now I think about it, I don’t think I liked it. I always enjoyed dressing up, being a princess and enjoyed doing more “girly” things.
One of the reasons behind my passion for building In KidZ and the platform was being bullied throughout my years in school. Even though we were living in a multicultural area, surrounded by diversity, it was difficult for me as a child and teenager. I was bullied through school, and it definitely impacted my self esteem. Bullying is rooted in a rejection of differences. I was different educationally, culturally, and emotionally, and I felt the sting of cruelty and rejection from my peers. This was such a contrast to my home life because being home and in a healthy community outside of school helped me know I always had many people who loved me. I decided as a teenager that I would grow up to actively change this culture of cruelty and rejection by teaching others the lessons my father taught me. I wanted to begin with children, teaching children to accept individuals just as they are. Showing them to respond to difference with love rather than fear; creating a world where tolerance and support comes first.
Growing up, my family’s support meant the world to me. Without it I would have struggled even more during teenage years with issues of colorism, self-esteem, and my larger struggle: Dyslexia.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest struggle to date was my education. I not only went to medical school in India, but I also had to find a different way of learning. Educationally, I had challenges because of my Dyslexia. I was not accurately diagnosed till 7th grade, and my parents had trouble accepting it.
I had parents with Master degrees behind their names, my parents and brothers were always so educated. They always found success easily in academics. My family and culture viewed education as a “starting” point to adult life, good grades and good schools meant that you were “making it.”I was never the best in school, and when I viewed my family’s success, I felt like a failure. I internalized a sense of worthlessness and I spent years trying to live up to the academic expectations of my family, to prove I am worthy.
It was only later, as an adult, that I realized that my value as a person was not one dimensional, it came from my belief in myself and love for the world. No one could place value on me besides myself, and no one could take my worth away from me. After years of struggle I figured out I was always worthy, and my problem was my strength.
Being Dyslexic made me understand that I had a gift. Some of the smartest people in the world have Dyslexia, Hans Christen Anderson, Alexander Graham Bell, Jay Leno, Danny Glover, Albert Einstein, and my favorite is Walt Disney. These are just a few names, but their successes inspired me. I saw that they did not let their disability hold them back, but they actually thrived in spite of it. Seeing these leaders succeed, I learned that my dyslexia could be managed and controlled. I put this notion to the test when I started Medical School.
Right out of my senior year of High School at 17 years old, I entered Medical School in India. It was there that I learned to control and utilize my Dyslexia. The rigors of Medical School taught me to use my brain’s ability to alter and create perception. I became highly aware of my environment. I learned to use pictures instead of words. Ultimately this challenge became my greatest strength, it forced me to be more creative, intuitive and insightful. I use all my senses, I create my thoughts as reality, and I have a very vivid imagination.
After I finished Medical School I began studying for my Boards, It took me years to find my place as an administrator rather than a practicing physician. I became hugely successful as a hospital administrator and helped create and build an Integrated Cancer Center in the San Fernando Valley. This was my last position before I stepped away to be a mom, but this wasn’t an easy path.
I was able to take my challenge and turn it into my greatest asset. My challenges have allowed me to rise not only to be a physician, a hospital administrator, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and above all, a motivator.
Please tell us about In KidZ xx With Love.
Kids are the future, and in this beautifully diverse world, they need to see how all cultures experience life uniquely. At In KidZ, we believe that in our differences, lie our similarities. We encourage the ability to understand and celebrate the differences in each culture. Our vision is for our children to ultimately accept all humans as they are, and to make the world a better place which is why a portion of each box is donated to a charity to further the advancement of children’s education.
I saw there was a threat to the next generation being good global citizens, and we as their parents, grandparents, guardians, uncles, and aunts needed to find a path to teach them to accept all individuals as they are.
In KidZ was founded as a lifestyle brand dedicated to creating connections through culture and championing unity amongst diversity.
In is for INCLUSION
KidZ is because the brand is for children, the next generation, who will run this world.
Z is for Zabina; growing up, I was always identified as Zee because many people could not pronounce my name, and .
At In KidZ, we educate children of all ages about diverse traditions the right way. We provide the tools to be knowledgeable, accepting, and culturally aware citizens of the world. Each Culture Box is curated by/with a family from that specific culture, and contains items to encourage the conversation about various global experiences. Each piece is hand-selected, researched, and artisanally sourced as an foundational aspect of the country’s tradition. The playful and fun pieces in the box create a cultural experience that encourages children and parents to open their minds to the diversity of the world and to let it enter their homes and hearts.
When I decided to start In KidZ xx with love there were business challenges, I had no experience, but lots of passion. There were so many difficulties from day one, my ideas kept changing, so the business kept changing. But once I found the niche and the passion for In Kidz, I knew there was nothing that would stop this mission-driven business to rise. I was wrong; we launched the website, and two weeks later, COVID-19 hit the world. As if this wasn’t enough, our website was hijacked and crashed! The universe is always somehow sending me a message to perfect or fix something with the company before it takes off. I was not giving up on In Kidz, we started working through all of our struggles, relaunched the website and business.
It became clear to me that the universe was not only showing me where to make my platform betters, the world changing protests that started in the US was a sign that my desire to teach tolerance and acceptance was deeply necessary for children. In the wake of such social and political unrest, it is vital for human beings to see, uplift, and protect each other from injustice and ignorance. This starts at home. It starts with ourselves, but it also starts with our children. Teaching them to know, love, and accept others can have a revolutionary impact on our world.
Children today have access to more knowledge about different cultures and global opportunities than ever before. Yet, there is a lack of acceptance and understanding of cultural diversity. That distance comes down to us; as parents, guardians, and mentors, it is our responsibility to help bridge this gap. In KidZ, we realized that we can’t expect our children to learn about things we as a society have yet to understand fully, which is why we created the Culture Boxes and other products. We are continuing to expand and grow our culture boxes and our outreach, and I am so excited to be educating the next generation of leaders towards a more accepting future.
- Bi-monthly subscription: $49.00
- Annual subscription: $270.00
- Website: www.inkidzco.co
- Email: email@example.com
- Social Media: @inkidzco, @zabina_bhasin @happyherfoundation
Photographer: Sarah Hoag; Personal Photo: outfit : holichic by megha rao