Photo by Screech Owl Design

Photo by Screech Owl Design

In my last post I shared that my husband has been in and out of the hospital for the last four months with a serious illness. It took me four months to share that with anyone other than close friends and family. I think it was because I didn’t want pity (it’s the worst) or to have to answer too many questions. But then something happened that made me realize that I was seriously depriving myself of others’ support and understanding. I was on a call with one of our artists, Jacqueline Schmidt, discussing an exclusive iphone case collection we were working on and I had to abruptly interrupt our chat to take an important call from my husband’s doctor. When I finally called her back, I felt the need to explain and spent a few minutes telling her everything.

Her reaction brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. She told me that she was so glad I’d told her what I was going through — “that if we don’t share these things, others can’t be there for us”. She offered her support and help in any way she could (but no pity!), and I know she meant it. Then she told me her own inspiring, heartbreaking but triumphant story, one that I hope she’ll let me share one day, or better yet, share herself. I hung up the phone not only feeling less alone in my fear and sadness but also feeling less scared and sad. I felt connected to and supported by Jacqueline and every other person out there who has ever gone through or is going through challenging times. All because I decided to share the truth about what was happening in my life.

I think so many of us feel that we need to show only a brave, confident face. The face of success, the face of a winner, the face of someone who can balance it all and who maybe has it all. It’s as if we feel that showing any vulnerability at all will somehow make us more vulnerable. But I’m learning that the opposite is true. When we only show that side of ourselves, we lose out on so much. We lose the chance to truly connect on a human level with another person, to give and receive understanding and support without involving our ego. These days, those seemingly insignificant moments of connection are my fuel. I am aware of them everyday — with my family and friends, the amazing BRIKA team, my co-founder and newest best friend Jen, my husband, the incredible artisans and designers we work with at BRIKA and most amazingly of all — perfect strangers I come across in every day life. In our quest to do it all, to be better or the best, these honest connections ground us and bring us back to a common, universal purpose to do it together.

PS. You can read my previous post here.

Technorati Tags: BRIKA, Entrepreneurship, inspiration, life lessons


How I Know You’re Not too Busy to do Great Work

by Kena Paranjape on June 4, 2014

in Your Life

I run a start-up. Many of the cliché’s surrounding start-up founders are true. We are obsessed with what we do. It is an all-consuming endeavor in the most exhilarating way. You want to spend every moment connected to it — even when you’re not actually working, you think about how that time NOT working will benefit your work. You live it and breathe it because it is something that is coming from inside of you, energizing you. When I read about great artists who were deeply engaged in their work (even in times in history when that wasn’t an easy thing to do), I can understand and even relate to it. They sacrificed family, health and relationships for their craft (think Steve Jobs, Ernest Hemingway, the artist Francis Bacon). And while I am awed by that level of dedication and feel privileged to be able to learn from them, I could never choose that way of life…

For the past four months my husband (of eleven years) has been in and out of the hospital. I’ve been shuttling from the hospital to work back to the hospital and finally home late in the evening. I live out of a packed bag, staying at home, or with my sister or friend who both have homes near the hospital. My daily to-do list consists of action items to move our business forward and follow-up related to my husbands care. I go from a photo shoot to a doctor’s appointment to a team meeting. I take the time during the drive or walk from the hospital to make the mental (and emotional) transition from being with my husband to focusing on my work and team. Sometimes it takes me 15-20 minutes after I get to the office to get back into things, but it is a miracle to me that I always do. That’s how much my work and our team mean to me.

People often ask me “how I do it” and I never know how to respond. Life is complicated and messy but also exhilarating and joyful. There is so much we can’t control but for the lucky ones among us, there is still so much we can. For me, experiencing things so far out of my control has only fueled my passion and gratitude for the things I can — our beautiful business, time with my closest friends and family and my health. I used to believe in the concept of “work-life balance” until I started BRIKA. Now I understand that work is not separate from life — it is a very crucial part of it. If you are doing the work that is right for you, it actually makes life whole rather than subtracting from it. From my experience, great work even gives back to you especially when you need it.

P.S. It took me a long time to share this story with anyone. Mostly because I can’t stand pity. Then I realized that the benefits of sharing far outweigh any risk of pity (which we can always walk away from, by the way). I’m saving that story for my next post ☺

You can also find this post on Medium

Technorati Tags: Dreams, Entrepreneurship

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Hi friends,

I'm so happy you're here!  You'll now find me now blogging on A Well-Crafted Life, the blog for the ecommerce site I co-founded, BRIKA.  Visit BRIKA to find inspiring content and to shop for gorgeous products (a sweet selection above) all in one spot!

You can always reach me at with any comments, questions or feedback.

Thank you for finding us!




Introducing BRIKA

by Kena Paranjape on September 25, 2012

in Your Life

Brika logo and tagline

Hi friends,

It has been a long time.  Too long, really!!  I hope you've been well.  I've been busy, but not normal day-to-day life busy.  I've been busy pursuing a lifelong dream.

I've always wanted to start a business and be an entrepreneur.  I've been so lucky (and have worked hard!) to have an amazing career in the corporate world, but all along (while learning a ton), I've been plotting, scheming and dreaming about my entrepreneurial escape.  In hindsight, I realize there were three things that I needed to fall into place in order to finally take the leap and make my dream a reality:

1. An amazing idea.  An idea that I was so passionate about that once it came to be, I couldn't NOT do it.  CHECK!

2. A brilliant and fun business partner that balances my skill set and who I "click" with (VERY important!).  CHECK!

3. The right timing. I've been through a lot of ups and downs in my personal life over the last few years, and at times, it just wasn't feasible for me to leave a job and launch a business.  Well, guess what?  The stars finally aligned....CHECK!

Since earlier this year, my business partner and friend Jen Lee Koss and I have been working away at BRIKA.  From the start, we knew we wanted to create a business with heart.  A business that was built on our deepest values and that we knew would resonate with many people (women especially!).  And that is how BRIKA came to be:

BRIKA is an online shopping experience that celebrates craft, storytelling and the belief that our lives are as beautiful as we wish to make them.

You can learn more about BRIKA as we develop by signing up on our brand new launch page.  Which brings me to this blog.  My beloved blog, In Life and In Fashion.  Today is my last post here.  From now on you will find my posts at BRIKA's new blog,  A Well-Crafted Life, so please come join me!

Thank you so much for reading all these years.  In many ways, giving me a voice to write about my values, beliefs and dreams is what brought me to this point.  My wish for you is that what you love becomes what you do.

Love, Kena


PS. Please do like us on facebook and follow us on twitter and pinterest

Technorati Tags: BRIKA, Dreams, Entrepreneurship


Little Chunks of Time: How do You Use Them?

by Kena Paranjape on June 18, 2012

in Your Life


courtesy of via pinterest

Since I've been working on launching a business, I find myself running between meetings all day long.  These meetings, unlike those in a traditional office environment, are super helpful and have been essential in moving our business forward.  The downside is not in the time lost in the meetings themselves, but in the little chunks of time in between. What do you do when you have 15 to 30 minutes free between meetings or appointments? For a while I found myself surfing the internet, hanging out in a coffee shop (waiting for my next meeting) reading free local papers, or even turning on the TV to catch the beginning or end of random shows.  But eventually losing all that time during a day left me feeling frustrated and I started to brainstorm ways to productively fill it.

  • Read: I bookmark interesting articles when I come across them and when I have a few extra minutes, go back to read them.  I've also taken to carrying my e-reader in my bag so I can pick up where I left off from the book I am reading.
  • Clean & De-Clutter: Do a quick scan of the fridge and clean out anything old, start a load of laundry, sort through mail,  clear off your workspace, go through your inbox.
  • Blog: I have to admit, it has been hard to focus on thinking up post ideas for In Life & In Fashion while so focused on thinking about the business!  That's why I've taken to using little chunks of time to come up with post ideas....hopefully this will help me to post more regularly. :)
  • Brainstorm: My partner and I have a long list of things we are constantly discussing and brainstorming.  I now keep a running list and when I find myself with a few moments, give some time to jotting down ideas and thoughts around some of our key strategies.
  • Make a Phone Call: I used to avoid making phone calls.  They feel disruptive and can be frustrating at times but they are also necessary!  I now use little chunks of free time to make calls - even if its to book myself a haircut (finally!!)

Here are some other great ideas on what to do with short time periods during the day:

20 Useful Things you Can Accomplish in 15 Minutes - from

15 Big Little Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes - from

How do you best use your little chunks of free time in a day?

If you liked this post, please do share it with a friend. Thanks!

Technorati Tags: productivity, time management


Lemon Love

by Kena Paranjape on May 14, 2012

in Your Life


I don't usually write posts about food, but I had to make an exception after this weekend.  I made a lemon cake for a dinner party on Saturday evening and my hubs and I made lemon poppyseed waffles the next day for Mother's Day brunch.   After slicing, squeezing and zesting lemons all weekend, I kind of fell in love.  Lemons are lovely in so many ways!  They are fragrant, light, tangy, refreshing and the prettiest shade of yellow.  You can add them to sweet or savoury dishes as a humble ingredient, or as the star of the show.  You can pile them up in a bowl for a fresh centrepiece.  Or use them sliced many ways to decorate a dish.  Spring is the perfect time to bring more lemons into your are a few ideas:

1) Pile lemons into any kind of pretty vessel around the house - a glass jar or vase or a silver bowl

2) Make this delicious cake for your friends and family courtesy of Martha (she makes the BEST cakes!)


3) Enjoy more spring salads with the simplest dressing - a squeeze of lemon, lemon zest, a good olive oil, salt and pepper.

4) Brunch with these lemon poppyseed waffles

5) Wear something summery and bright!  I love the dress below....

What are your favourite ways to enjoy lemons?

Technorati Tags: brunch, cake, Lemons, Martha Stewart


9 Questions with Joanna Track

by Kena Paranjape on May 4, 2012

in 9 Questions with...

Photo courtest of Toronto Star

Photo courtesy of Toronto Star

Joanna Track is one of my entrepreneurial idols.  She successfully launched and sold in a time where there were very few Canadian female innovators/entrepreneurs to look up to.  Today Joanna runs Dealuxe, an awesome (seriously, go check it out now if you haven't already!) online shopping destination for fashionable, contemporary apparel that she co-founded.  She is super smart and savvy but also incredibly genuine and generous.  I am lucky to be able to turn to Joanna while I work on launching my own venture!  Joanna was happy to answer 9 Questions for In Life & In Fashion, but first I had to ask her about the recent shocking news that Rogers is shutting down!  Here is what she said:

"I was shocked to hear the news that Rogers has shuttered  Not only was the brand a trail blazer in the industry, it's strategy was built around women and digital, two areas that are not only highly lucrative right now, but ones that Rogers has publicly stated they are focused on.  I am devastated for the incredible team that was fostered over the many years, but I am confident that they will find amazing new opportunities."

I know I'm not the only one to agree with Joanna!  Rogers, what are you thinking??

Read on for 9 Questions with Joanna Track:

1.  What is your morning routine?

I go to the gym between 6 and 7am (either spin or circuit class), then home to shower, eat and spend a little time with my son, Teddy, before I head to the office.

2.  What five items should every woman have in her wardrobe this season? (You can find all of Joanna's picks at

1. Coloured pant - make it a bright colour!
2. An oversized clutch
3. White jeans
4. Bright colour pump
5. Something striped - sweater or even a t-shirt

3.  What fashion rules do you follow?

For me, I have to be comfortable first.  If I don't feel good, it won't look good.  I also stick to and invest in my basics (blazers, shoes, dress pants) and I find trendy but inexpensive trend items to complement my wardrobe.

4.  What was the last book you read?

Steve Jobs.  I highly recommend it! (Editor's Note: I recommend it too! Read this post for my lessons learned)

5.  What inspires you?

The idea of building something.  For me, I love building a brand.  Taking something that's just an idea in my head and bringing it to life.

6.  What are the secret contents of your handbag?

1. Miniature Lollia hand cream - they are the perfect purse size and you never know when you'll have a dry skin emergency!
2. Xyla candies - for a sweet pick me up without the guilt

7.  If you could do anything other than what you are doing now, what would it be?

I have always wanted to work for the Four Seasons.  i think it's an incredible brand, and Issy Sharp is one of my business idols.  I think I could learn so much from him.

8.  What are your top 3 pieces of career advice for women?

1. You don't always have to move "up" to be successful.  Many times a horizontal shift will take you in a direction that is more interesting, and fulfilling.
2. The only ceiling is the one you put up yourself.
3. Be a consumate diplomat.

9.  What are your top 3 pieces of "life" advice for women?

1. Pay it forward.
2. Life is short, don't spend it all working.
3. It all works out in the end.  If it hasn't worked out yet, you're not at the end yet!

Read 9 Questions with Joe Mimran, Trish Magwood, Ali DeBold, and Mireille Guiliano.

If you liked this post, please do share it!  Thanks :)

Technorati Tags: Dealuxe, Joanna Track, Sweetspot


5 Tips for a Creative Career & Life

by Kena Paranjape on April 3, 2012

in Your Life

Amanada Cherie:

Amanada Cherie:

Last night I sat on a panel for the Business Design Club at Rotman Business School along with Helen Pak, EVP and Co-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Mary Jane Braide, a former Boston Consulting Group consultant who is now an independent Brand Strategist.  Helen and Mary-Jane are impressive, out-of-the box thinkers and do-ers (I was lucky to be included in this group!).

We were asked to think about some of the lessons we had learned around pursuing creativity in our own lives and careers and share them with the audience, who were all MBA students on the brink of re-entering the work place with newfound aspirations and a little trepidation.  Some common themes emerged and I left feeling inspired:

1.  Creativity is about taking risks. Most creativity involves some kind of risk - risk that you will be laughed at, criticized, judged or even fired.  But there is also no great reward without great risk.  So in order to innovate, taking risks is absolutely necessary.  Helen called this blind bravery - the idea that sometimes you have to jump without a net and have faith that one will appear if you need it!

2. It is all about the hustle. I heard Gary Vaynerchuk speak at Rotman a few years ago - he is all about hustling in order to create.  For those of us seeking more creative career paths, hustling is a pre-requisite to success.  It means reading, researching, cold-calling, cold-emailing, meeting with hundreds of people to get the introduction or information you need.  Mary-Jane added that as you become more focused you will learn to be more strategic...strategic hustling, if you will?

3.  Develop your personal brand. Know who you are, what you're great at, what you love and what you believe in.  Weave all that into a fascinating story about yourself and carry it around with you.  People want to work and connect with you, not your resume.

4. Seek out like-minded people. It is hard to follow your heart when all you hear around you is "that's crazy - why would you want to do that", "it's not stable", "what if it doesn't work" etc.  You spend all your time shielding your resolve from everyone else's point of view.  Since I've decided to take the entrepreneurial route I have been in touch with so many entrepreneurs and the support and like-minded thinking has been incredibly invigorating!  Make a point to find people who think about life and work like you do.

5.  Look at your career and life like an adventure. There is no set path so nobody can tell you exactly what, when and how to do something.  Leverage your passion, listen to your gut and have a vision and you will have quite a ride!

If you liked this post, please do share it with a friend, on facebook or twitter using the buttons below.  Thanks! :)

Technorati Tags: career, creativity, innovation, inspiration


Spring Beauty: 8 Tips to Try Now

by Kena Paranjape on March 29, 2012

in Beauty

Eva Mendes does coral so beautifully

Eva Mendes does coral so beautifully

Thanks to my sister, a couple of weeks ago I had the fun experience of a make-up lesson at Gee Beauty in Toronto with beauty legend Miriam Gee herself.  Let me say that I am OK with make-up....not a total disaster, but definitely not an expert and I clearly have a lot to learn.

Here are 8 tips I learned during my lesson that might help you to revitalize your spring beauty routine:

1. Choose coral. I love the colour coral and lucky for me, it is IN this spring.  My mom has a beautiful gold and coral beaded necklace that I managed to sneak away from her jewellery box and hang on to for a few years. (speaking of which, Mom, can I take it back now?)  Wear it on your lips, eyes, cheeks and nails (just not all at the same time!).  I love it on Eva above.

2. Use concealer to cover ANY dark shadows on your face. Miriam drilled this into me and I can't believe the difference it has made in a brighter, even toned complexion prior to putting any make-up on your face.  Don't forget your eyelids and the very corner of your eyes.

3. It all starts with your skin. Take the very best care of your skin.  Not only because it will serve you well in the long run, but also because great skin is the foundation for a beautiful look with make-up.  I was told that my skin is dry and that I need a facial.  Um, ok will get on that asap!

4. Use eyeshadow to bring out your eyes. I'll admit that eyeshadow scares me a little.  I have no idea how to choose the right colours to suit me and struggle with how to apply it.  I would recommend asking for a professional's help with choosing the right colours for your eye colour and skin tone and a quick lesson on how to layer different shades to really make your eyes pop!

5. Add eyebrow grooming to your daily routine. Your eyebrows frame and add definition and personality to your face and if well groomed, can give you an extremely polished look.   Make brushing them and filling them in with a brow powder a part of your daily routine.

6. You can line your eyes with colours other than black and brown. Miriam lined my eyes with navy shadow and filled in the lower rim with a purple liner.  The effect was mysterious and exotic.

7.  Sometimes more is more. I tend to take the "less is more" phrase to the extreme.  As in, I spend 5 minutes applying make-up and it doesn't look like I've done much at all.  Sometimes, like when you're heading to the grocery store, that's no big deal.  But if you're heading out to a meeting or an event, you want your efforts to show.  Miriam had me apply a few layers of eyeshadow until the depth of colour was just right.

8. Always curl your lashes. I agree Miriam!  My basic running errands face includes: concealer, eyelash curl, blush....and go! Curled eyelashes make you look more awake than you feel and younger than you are.

Thanks to Miriam at Gee Beauty for a fun and educational make-up lesson!

If you're looking for more fabulous beauty tips, check out two of my favourite beauty blogs: Beauty Editor and Beauty Geeks.

If you like this post, please share it on facebook, tweet it or send to a friend with the links below.  Thanks!

Technorati Tags: beauty tips, Gee Beauty, Miriam Gee


Spring Style: What to Buy Now Part II

by Kena Paranjape on March 21, 2012

in Fashion and Style


Last week, I shared my favourite spring picks from Madewell.  Today, I've pulled together my shopping list from Anthropologie.  When it comes to Anthropologie, my secret dream is to win one of those contests where you race through the store with a shopping cart and 10 minutes to fill it!  But sadly, I don't believe they've ever held such a contest (Anthro are you listening?) and I almost never win contests anyway (!) so I am limiting myself to 5 beautiful picks!

Clockwise starting from center:

Gathered Column Dress:  I used to have a black knit summer dress with ruching along the sides and it was SO flattering. I wore it all around Europe as it was light and I could dress it up or down.  This navy version will be my update to that dress.

Serpentine Cuff:  Bracelets take a backseat to necklaces in winter but as sleeves get shorter, bracelets have a chance to shine!  This cuff is the perfect accessory to freshly bared arms.

Peacock Tote:  Why not choose a colourful, playful printed tote for spring instead of the serious buttoned-up structed leather ones we carry around all winter?

Bettye Mueller Wedges:  Another versatile shoe picks!  These wedges will look sweet with shorts, denim and all your summer dresses.

Multi-strand Braided Belt:  This sparkly woven belt is the perfect complement to flowy summer dresses that need some shape.  Because is it stretchy, it is also more comfortable than traditional leather belts.

What do you think?  What are some of your picks?

If you liked this post, please do forward to a friend, share it on facebook, or tweet it!  Thanks :)

Technorati Tags: Anthropologie, Sprint style

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