Connect
To Top

Meet Kumari Suraj of House of Suraj in Downtown LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kumari Suraj.

Kumari, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Man! I wear many hats. But, they’re all fierce AF! Literally, the hat lady. I’m a global dance icon, creative director, choreographer, fashion designer, recording artist, Indian reality TV star and brand. I love what I do and I’m always hungry to learn and do more.

My ethnic makeup is my biggest point of inspiration. My parents are a mix of West Indian, South Asian, Indigenous/Native American and European cultural heritage. My exploration of life and celebration of my cultures are reflected in my commercial work with dance, fashion, visual communication and creative direction. I love the art storytelling. Moving others into conversations is my modus operandi. Especially when opening the minds of people from contrasting communities while encouraging cultural understanding that’s still relevant in today’s social climate.

I started studying dance at the age of three after watching the movie Flashdance. The curls, the leg warmers, the rebellion. I was obsessed! Dance was my connection to humanity. I’ve studied over 14 dance languages to simply understand more about myself as a multi-ethnic person and how I fit in this world. At 18, I decided two things: 1. Set my place in dance history and an innovator of a style; 2. travel the world.

In 2009, I created a dance style called Bollywaack as a fusion of South Asian culture and queer Waacking culture. Originally I created Bollywaack as a way of connecting more to her South Asian heritage. Now Bollywaack has created a bridge between female and queer LGBTQ communities with the homophobic/gynophobic Indian Diaspora across the world. Bollywaack isn’t just a cultural fusion of dance it’s also the LGBTQ+ feminine energy inclusion into the Indian community.

Through vehicle of dance, I’ve traveled to over 34 different countries teaching other young artists how to be free, fabulously unique and find their voices through the transformative power of dance. I’ve been blessed to have choreographed for major television networks from Los Angeles to Mumbai. I’ve enjoyed being the creative
director for Grammy Award-winning artists. But, throughout my career I’ve always had a flawless sense of style, fashion design and costume design for all my eccentric visual creations. Which is what led me to finish my fashion degree at FIDM in downtown LA.

After graduating July 2020, I released the first few pieces of my new line called KUMARI. It’s been two years of brand development and I LOVE IT! It’s so me! KUMARI is an athleisure lifestyle brand fusing Indian sari culture with African-American street dance culture. KUMARI is the flagship apparel line from the House of Suraj focused on being a multi-ethnic slow fashion label.

As a brand that reflects a new cultural landscape KUMARI leads, with one foot in tradition and one foot in the future. Our clients pride themselves on being humans who transcend cultural boundaries.

My company reflects the world’s burgeoning desire to blend personal heritage creating a sense of individualism and freedom. The perfect example of heritage duality creating inspiration.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Challenges? What challenges? Lol OF COURSE! Aside my being an artist who manages depression there are other external challenges with the identities I represent. As a cis alpha, I see others get so threatened by strong pussy! PERIOD. Being a plus size 16 woman in entertainment, I still get fat shamed for these juicy curves.

As a dance icon and innovator, the haters feel Trump rally supporters. People in the dance industry, to this day, try to erase my history and contributions to the community and culture. The bullying and emotional trauma of being a professional dancer is something we all endure. But it’s so unnecessary and counterproductive. There is room for everyone to be great without tearing each other down. I’ve launched many careers for other great artists. So naturally, I get a lot of shadow dwellers who want to suck my energy to do the same for them. Sorry not sorry Hontey! No can do.

As a mixed race person with fair skin, I get extreme judgment from anyone serving close-minded ignorance or a lack of global understanding. I rep culture on every part of my body. Clothes, jewelry, tattoos, hair. This form of expression makes me happy. I’m so comfortable in my skin and I adore my ethnicities. The combination of so many ethnic identities living in harmony on one person leaves people confused and incites rage from some. I’ve experienced people feeling threatened by my presence in ways that make them lash out verbally or even physically. Simply due to their lack of cultural understanding or because they can’t categorize me for the only boxes they know to put me in.

Now that I’m creating music, LAWD, what will they do next.

I try not to deal with Low Vibrations. Keep it positive and keep it pushing. For anyone reading this…if you have haters, you’re doing something right. Keep on being great and a blessing to the world around you. There is much positive work to be done.

Please tell us about House of Suraj.
My company is the House of Suraj (HOS). We are based in Los Angeles & Mumbai. House of Suraj is an experience-based lifestyle brand specializing in fashion, music and dance production for our clients in a digital space via an online subscription platform, creative direction and an e-commerce retail store.

Within the KUMARI fashion label sustainability is a non-negotiable. We’re super proud of this! MADE IN LA – All garments are hand made & manufactured in Los Angeles. Our LA-based production partner pays fair wages to labor workers. We love supporting our US economy. SOURCED IN INDIA – We use Art Silk fabric ethically sourced from India. Good news! No silkworms were harmed in making our fabric! Yippy! We love supporting Indian textile manufacturers. ZERO WASTE – Our production partner saves every piece of material from hitting the cutting room floor. All scrap fabrics are collected and repurposed into dope accessories like bucket hats and scrunchies. Eoow! ECO PACKAGING – From seed paper hangtags to partnering with the NoIssue Eco Packaging Alliance to introduce our 100% compostable mailers.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT – We love to give back and support our local LGBTQ+ community! House of Suraj is donating $5 from each pair of overalls and upcycle fits sold to The Unique Woman’s Coalition (UWC), the first Black trans women-led organization in Los Angeles dedicated to fostering the next generation of Black trans leadership through mentorship, scholarship, and community care engagement work.

An additional $5 from each pair of overalls will be donated to Kumari’s 501c3 nonprofit, Dance for Peace: One Step At A Time. Dedicated to supporting both queer and allied performing artists of color during the COVID-19 pandemic through emergency funding, dance workshops, dance festivals like Waackfest.

First and foremost, before it turned into a production company HOS was/is my dance crew of film, television, social media stars and community activists in India. The team is known for Waacking & Bollywaack & more. Recent features in both Vogue India & NY Times were badass!

House of Suraj made huge strides for womxn FEMpowerment & the LGBTQ awareness in India by making top 8 on the #1 hit dance reality series, Dance Plus Season 3. Dazzling the global Indian audience of 1 billion viewers in 150+ countries. House of Suraj received critical acclaim from Bollywood’s A-list stars such as: Shah Rukh Khan, Remo DSouza, Govinda, Jacqueline Fernandez, Farah Khan, Prabu Deva, Kangana Ranaut. The House of Suraj continues to create trends for brands with performances and appearances in the global commercial industry.

I’ve been a mentor to my HOS girls since they were teenagers. To see them grow into badass alpha channeling women in a country (India) that hasn’t supported strong women; is my greatest pride and joy. They are my legacy.

I’m most proud of all of my children who have come through my companies. From South Africa to Portland Oregon; they’ve trained with me, implemented what I shared and took over the world with it. Fashion, music dance they all slay! My greatest pride and accomplishment is the success of my dearest students and mentees across the globe. It lets me know I did something right for my kids.

I’m proud of my company’s diversity. Both in its staff and in its products. We are a global melting pot. As cultural cross-pollination blossoms globally, House of Suraj is a company reflecting the world’s desire to blend their personal heritages to create a sense of individualism and freedom of expression through fashion, music and dance. In short, we build good humans through visual art.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memories usually involve food, family, nature and my grandma. There are too many to share. My family is naturally fly they inspire me so much.

Pricing:

  • Free shipping in the KUMARI store for Voyage LA readers. Discount code: VOYAGELA

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

1. Green background photo – Product of Culture _@productofculture_ 2. Full Moon Photo – @deangelophotos 3. Black sequins w/ mic – Kitty Su Mumbai 4. Dance for Peace Logo – House of Suraj 5. FIDM Lab photo – selfie 6. Kumari & Fiance Malinder Tooray in KUMARI – Kate Singh Photography 7. Desi Girl Chant Music Video – House of Suraj 8. Kanda in KUMARI – Kate Singh Photography

Suggest a story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in