Introducing Kiran Ferrandino & Simply Om

by Lisa Cadigan

kiranHindus believe that the sound “om” represents the original vibration of the Divine Creation. Before om, there was nothingness; there was only “latent potentiality.” The Sanskrit name for the syllable is praṇava, from the root nu, which means “to shout” or “to sound.” (Source: Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om).

It is divinely fitting that I first “met” Kiran Ferrandino when she commented on one of my early blog entries entitled “Wishing Stars.” Her comment: “Everybody knows that the only way to make something come true is to scream it from the rooftops…” I immediately liked her, and reciprocated the blog visit to find that we share a lot in common. We are both mothers of two; we both grew up in New Jersey; we both love to sing and to write; and we both know how to cook an excellent tomato sauce thanks to experienced Italian tutelage (my mother, her mother-in-law).

Kiran was expressing a sentiment of “om” from the first time we connected; the idea that to make our wishes become reality, we must first sound them from the rooftops. I believe that the fundamental vibration of wishes and dreams is the human need for connection and love. All of our talents, passions and actions are simply expressions of that driving force – we put out our “oms” in a myriad of ways, in the hopes that their echoes will create a new and better world. Kiran does this by loving and caring for her family; by singing, playing and writing her music; by writing for her blog; and most recently, by taking the leap to launch her new jewelry business, Simply Om. Simply Om is not just a business with a social conscience; its core mission is to actively empower women and children all over the world. I am honored that she has agreed to share her story here.

On Living a LinkedIn Perfect Life

by Kiran Ferrandino

familyFor the past few years of my life, I have floated. Well, some might say it was more like sinking, but heck – you say tomato, I say my therapists have made a LOT of money in recent years.

Let me back up. I have been an overachiever my whole life. At least that’s what it looked like to most people who only knew me on the surface. I was an officer of every club that needed an officer in High School. I don’t even think some of those clubs existed before me – I think I probably created one or two just so I could be President of something else on my college application. When I graduated from the University of Virginia and landed a job at Accenture, I had no idea how fast my career would free me from any worry about money or how the bills get paid.

On the surface, I was shiny. I was LinkedIn-perfect-profile-shiny. And yet… there was something underneath that felt very rough and unsuited for where my life was taking me.

Around the time I became pregnant with my first child, work was starting to blow up. In a good way. I was forging my way through Management on an Executive path in a lucrative industry. My husband had his own career where he was also successful in his own rite. Our wallets were full, but my heart was just…

NOT.

I know this is not uncommon. I know that many people feel this way, and I am not trying to diminish the importance of what we must all do every day, to support ourselves, to support our families.

I just want to acknowledge that despite my shiny, successful outward appearance, I was miserable.

By the time I had my second child, that feeling had magnified.  I found some solace and relief in writing. Ironically, I fell into blogging through my job when I was selected to be a blogger for my technology company’s fairly popular site. While on maternity leave, I decided to explore blogging for myself and started Masala Chica.

Writing opened up a lot of things for me. My eyes. Some wounds. As the words poured out, I realized I had been running so darn hard toward my career that I hadn’t noticed I was headed in a direction further away from my family, my creative dreams and myself every day.

As I continued to write, signs of what might fulfill me became clearer. A recurring theme in my writing was that I had never come to terms with poverty. As a child, during visits to the rural villages of my family in India, I had been exposed to some of the worst kinds of poverty. I saw child marriage, starvation, and indentured children servants. These memories – things I thought I had forgotten – kept re-surfacing in my writing. I could see faces. I could see eyes. I remembered names. The more I wrote, the more I remembered; and the more I remembered, the more I struggled to reconcile the life I was living with the desperate situations in which I knew others were living.

It finally just clicked. It’s still kind of clicking every day. The picture becomes a little bit clearer with each click: These memories haven’t left me because I was never meant to forget them. I was never meant to walk away from them. In this lifetime I have to do something I believe in, and I believe this is it. There is never going to be a “perfect” time – a time when our wallets are full and there isn’t some discomfort financially. I have to stop making excuses.

Because now is the time.

With my husband’s support, a lot of our savings and some small business loans, I have started Simply Om. In many poverty-stricken areas around the world, there are no opportunities to make money. Unemployment is not even a concept – there are simply no jobs to be had. These opportunities are further diminished for women, who often need to care for their children, and who have no means if the husband is gone.

Enter companies like Simply Om, where we believe that if you create an opportunity for a woman who is suffering from the most dire social and economic oppression, you can change her life. Not just today. But for a long time to come. Which helps create sustainable income for her children. And gives them a shot at an education and a better life.

Artisans in Ethiopia make jewelry out of recycled gun casings.  Something originally meant for harm is now doing good.

In Ethiopia, where resources are scarce, artisans make jewelry out of recycled gun casings. Something originally meant for harm is now doing good.

Simply Om is a fair-trade marketplace for jewelry. The jewelry is not only ethically created; sales of the pieces also help to change the lives of women around the world. Through sales of this fashionable jewelry to a global market, I hope to spread awareness of how women are creatively finding ways to build better lives for their families, sometimes against all odds.

So here I am with this dream. I have stepped out of the comfort zone of corporate America. For the first time in my life, I am without a paycheck. I am using my creative love of writing and design to create the website and design some of my own pieces as Simply Om originals. I have become an impromptu web designer, marketer and photographer, because that’s just what happens when you start your own dream. You wear a lot of hats, and some look better on you than others. But I will still wear them all, friends.

Have I mentioned that am I scared out of my mind? Oh goodness, I am. But, I am also HUGELY excited. I am excited to take a creative vision and merge it with this need I have always felt to give back. I get so excited about the possibilities. I believe I can help some of my sisters around the world who did not have the fortune to be born in a country or in a family where “opportunity” and “you” were ever used in the same sentence.

I don’t know whether Simply Om will take off the way that I hope, that I dream. I don’t know if my goals of creating artisan teams in the poorest regions of India – those areas of my childhood memories – will come to fruition.

But I am putting my heart and my soul and my passion into something I believe is possible. And I hope that other people will believe in it, too.

As for all that heart I was missing while in corporate America? It’s here. And it’s beating wildly for the whole world to see. This leaves me a little more vulnerable than I was with my shiny LinkedIn profile.

Thanks for holding my hand as I jump.
LinkedIn, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Kiran Ferrandino is the founder of Simply Om and Masala Chica.  Find out more about her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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9 comments on “Introducing Kiran Ferrandino & Simply Om

  1. Alma on said:

    As they say from where I come from… you got cojones! I love your spirit ! You have the moxie that it takes to make it. I have faith in those that inspire me as you do. Prove your doubts wrong and kick em to the curb!
    Shared your story :)

    • Kiran on said:

      Thank you for your kind words, Alma. Love your creative spirit and talent as well. So glad I have gotten to know you through Alison!

      Check out Alma’s beautiful work at:
      http://www.etsy.com/shop/AlmaBoheme

      XO
      Kiran

  2. Tonya on said:

    You, my friend are amazing!! Best wishes and all the success in the world.

  3. Alison on said:

    Kiran, I am so proud of you for taking that dream and vision, and making it a reality. In the process of achieving your aspirations, you are inspiring others. I know you can make it work, and that LinkedIn profile shiny!

  4. A Lady in France on said:

    Kiran, you are shouting it from the rooftops, and it’s great! I believe in you and what you’re doing. So keep shining. :-)

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