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Meet Vanita Subherwal-Sharma of Umeedh Jewelry in Irvine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanita Subherwal-Sharma.

Vanita, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Orange County. Since childhood, my family (parents and three older sisters) would travel back to Punjab in India, it was where my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived and I would eagerly look forward to our vacations. As I got older, I started noticing the gender bias so much so that to this day, I remember my dad telling us a story where a relative told him that his daughters are burdens on him.

When I asked him how he felt in that moment, he said “I stood up and told that relative, ‘my daughters are my pride and are no different than boys.'” Those were the words we were raised with and have lived with me to this day. My sisters and I are so fortunate, but this is not the case for many girls in India and across the world. Societies and cultures have placed norms on women and have restricted their talents and capabilities. Can you imagine being told “what is the point of educating you, all you are going to do is get married and have children?” I have seen this firsthand and it stayed with me. Partly because in that moment I could not be a voice for that girl. Over time I realized that if there was any difference I could make when I had the opportunity, it would be to become a voice for all of those girls and women who are silenced and suffer from gender-related injustices. But as any college graduate, I pursued a career and all of these aspirations, to make a change, stayed nestled inside of me.

Let’s flash forward to present day, I have a family of my own, a very loving and supportive husband, and two boys, 7 and 4. Last February, we planned a vacation to India, just as my parents use to plan for me. My boys were just as eager as I use to be to go visit family. While I was also excited to go back to India, all I could think about on the 16+ hour flight was “why have I been waiting this long? The disparities have increased tenfold with a surge in rape cases and gender injustices not only in rural areas but in urban areas.” Plus motherhood, to have two sets of very watchful eyes, sponges to say the least, my every move, my every decision has an affect on my sons. They learn from my actions. My husband and I want to teach them to be responsible global citizens, to take a stand when the need be. It was just looking at them during the flight, that I decided the time is now. As our plane landed, I turned to my husband and said it is time to create Umeedh (pronounced oo-mee-dh, in Hindi, Umeedh means Hope). He asked me why Umeedh and I remember saying “because we have to create Hope in a world that needs it now more than ever.”

So during our three weeks in India, we started planning our next steps. I have always had a passion for jewelry and styling, so we started meeting with jewelry makers, hand selecting every piece of jewelry and analyzing how to setup our business in a way where we can use profit to educate girls in India and eventually take our initiative to a global level. I must give credit to my parents, they created their own business in the United States, being first generation immigrants. I saw their hardships and determination, and in a way it became a part of me. If they could achieve such great success, we can too. My husband’s family are just as hardworking and have reached success with such leaps and bounds, in a way both my husband and I share these qualities. Also, having an educational background in business and public policy (I have a Bachelor’s in Business with a minor in Law and a Masters in Public Policy) has helped tremendously.

When we came back home, we started to discover the benefits of social media and realized that there are many people who want to help make a change but just don’t have the means to do it. I wanted our company to be that bridge and empower women everywhere. In September 2019, we launched Umeedh Jewelry online with a website and an Instagram account. We created our motto “Feel Good, Do Good,” with the intent that our jewelry makes a statement for whoever purchases it and in turn their purchase serves a purpose…fulfilling the hope of many girls who have a dream to go to school and not be restricted by their gender.

If you ask me in present day, how we got here in a short time, firstly, it has to be the unwavering support of my husband. From day one, he has been a pillar and I am truly grateful for him. Secondly, the immense support of many women. Namely my sisters, who from day one have been my cheerleaders, their support has gotten me through those times where I have doubted myself. And the many women I have had the amazing opportunity of connecting with through Instagram. In fact, our new collection “INSPIRE” is an expression of gratitude for the women who have helped Umeedh grow on the social platform. It just goes to show that when we stand together, the impossible becomes possible. Lastly, my sons, for without them I would never have followed my heart.

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?
I don’t think any business has a smooth road. We need the bumps in the road to grow. We continue to face bumps, but instead of seeing them as hardships, I look at them as learning lessons. My initial struggle was social media, for someone who is extremely private, to be present on social media was a constant back and forth of “should I do this or shouldn’t I?” It was when I realized that I needed to serve the purpose of Umeedh by showing the world what we have to offer, that it no longer became a struggle. Self-doubt is a constant struggle, while my creative juices flow in serving a very large and diverse audience, understanding wants and needs, I still have my moments of “is this really going to work?”. Also, we select our jewelry from India, which in itself can be a struggle especially when it comes to shipping time frames and finding the exact jewelry we want to provide to our customers. But we take all of these in our stride because it could be much harder and much more difficult.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Umeedh Jewelry – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Umeedh Jewelry provides unique statement jewelry ranging from earrings, bracelets, rings and necklace sets. Originally, we intended to provide only exclusive pieces, having only one piece of each item, however we have started to transition to having a few pieces of each item due to demand. We select jewelry that you will rarely see anywhere else and ranges from daily wear to party wear along with providing traditional Indian jewelry. What sets us apart is that a portion of each purchase goes towards educating girls and empowering women.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Our plan is to create the Umeedh Foundation in which we will provide scholarships to girls in India and around the world. The scholarships will cover registration fees, buying school books and school supplies. We look forward to start a mens collections, provide styling services and offer non-jewelry items in our online store.

Pricing:

  • All of our jewelry is under $100

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Photograph Credit for four pictures (excluding the necklace set and the bracelets): Kaysha Weiner; Photograph Credit for the One Picture of me wearing the long green stone earrings is: Scott Sagud

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