‘A New York Minute’: Brown Girls Get Real About Their Roots with Anita Dongre Grassroot’s Collection (Pt. 1)

anita dongre

It all happens in ‘A New York Minute.’ That push and pull between the city and our motherland. The uniqueness of our cultural heritage and blended upbringing in an amalgamation of cultures. Brown Girl Magazine honors our collective experiences with an exclusive editorial in collaboration with Grassroot by Anita Dongre – this is the epitome of our South Asian-American hyphenated identities. We’ve never let our roots fade with the city’s hustle and bustle nor do we ever plan on letting them. So, this photo campaign—shot downtown near the Freedom Tower—is us paying homage to the dichotomy of our lives in New York City and our countries of origin.

anita dongre grassroot

Photos are courtesy of Pooja Dhar and makeup is courtesy of Armin



anita dongre grassroot

“I live and breathe New York City. I may not know every nook and still have trouble finding my way on the subway, but I certainly feel at home no matter the borough, the restaurant, tourist attraction, lounge or cafe. The city’s vibes, the diverse food, its wild nightlife, the countless smells on every street corner, its culture, the hustle, everything about this city speaks to my soul. My drive to conquer the world comes from living here and nothing can replace it. I leave town for a few days, but the joy that comes with returning back home is a feeling I will never take for granted. Seeing the city’s skyline from my balcony in Long Island City day after day keeps me grounded – it reminds me of how small I am, yet somehow, the city continually gives me the opportunity to do more with my life.

However, nothing in this city would be the same if my roots weren’t connected to every Halal cart, eyebrow threading salon, and yellow cab driver who has the thickest desi accent but knows exactly where to drop me off or the Uncle Ji who owns the bodega on the street corner and plays Bollywood music every day.

India is truly in every part of the city, doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll find the feeling of home everywhere.

Anita Dongre’s storefront brings New York City that much closer to our motherland. Seeing her name etched on the front and the sparkle and soft colors of her Grassroot collection through the window from the main floor evokes nostalgia, and is the reason our ‘A New York Minute’ campaign is so special to us at Brown Girl Magazine.”



“I have been a New Yorker for the past 17 years and there have been many times throughout my years here that I have felt as though I have been transported back to India. It can honestly happen on a daily basis if you’re open to it! One way I connect with my South Asian heritage is by keeping decor in my home that reminds me of my roots. I have paintings that are in gorgeous jewel tones that speak to my colorful Punjabi culture, an Om symbol on my bookshelf and I am constantly starting my mornings by lighting an agarbatti (incense) my mom gave me from a temple.

It might not be obvious to people around me but it’s a thread that weaves through everything I do and all that I am.

I also use clothing and jewelry as a way to constantly connect with culture. Style is probably my favorite way of expressing my love for all things Indian. There can never be enough gold, fuschia or emerald green, and while I can’t justify wearing a full-on bridal lehenga every day (trust me, I’ve tried!), I can find ways to incorporate these colors and beautiful details on any occasion.

That’s why I completely fell in love with the Grassroot by Anita Dongre collection. It merges everything I love about being Indian, and the clothing itself is filled with the comfort and ease you need while running around in New York City.

While I embrace the traditions passed on from generations in my family, it’s equally as important to pave my own path and do things differently where it makes sense. Being an entrepreneur as a South Asian woman is one of the ways I go against the traditional grain, and I am grateful for women like Anita who show me that it’s not only okay, it’s empowering.

New York City is an epic melting pot of cultures, and on any street corner, in any Uber or sitting next to me at a SoulCycle class, I can meet someone who feels like family because we come from the same place. It’s an incredibly powerful thing to experience and I love living here and being transported back to my roots at any given moment!”



“I usually start my day sitting at a roundtable, in my New York City apartment, looking out the window. Right in front of me is the Empire State Building and in my hands is a cup of chai. That cup of chai means so much more than you can imagine though.

Living in midtown Manhattan, it’s easy to get lost in the glittering rooftop bars and cozy cafes. But despite everything going on around me, something always inevitably transports me thousands of miles back home.

Some days it’s that cup of chai that I start my morning with. Other days it’s wearing the earrings that I bought off a street vendor in the charming lanes of Delhi. Or the sustainable fabric dress I got at a luxury retail store, that was painstakingly block printed by hand.

Whatever it may be, I always try to summon home to me, across thousands of miles, by wearing a piece of it wherever I go.

But working in the fashion industry in New York, it can be hard to express yourself and your South Asian roots. Whether it’s replacing that jacket at work with a Kashmiri shawl or styling a desi print with a Gucci bag, you really have to make an effort. I try hard not to let my environment suppress my roots or erase my identity.

I’m constantly looking for ways to create a new identity that I’m comfortable with by blending my roots and surroundings. An identity that I can wear when I’m in a meeting with a fashion editor or when I’m hanging with my friends from back home.

It can be difficult to navigate that path (and that closet!) but I adore Grassroot by Anita Dongre because it’s a gorgeous amalgamation of the two. It makes me feel equal parts true to my roots and equal parts trendy. It’s comfy enough to just grab a coffee in SoHo but stunning enough to hop from show to shop at New York Fashion Week.

The Grassroot’s line has the potential to blend my old roots while laying the ground for new ones. Eventually, it’s helping me build my home away from home.”



anita dongre grassroot

“I moved to New York City six months ago from London, through my modeling agency, and this is the first time I’ve ever lived in a different country away from my family and friends. As you can imagine, there are a plethora of things I miss but the one main thing I miss is my mum’s Indian cooking. I’m constantly ringing her about her recipes for Indian dishes that I miss so much – inevitably they just never taste as good as how she makes it. Since I’ve begun to cook more South Asian dishes at home, I’ve realized it’s my little way of staying connected, not only to my mum but also my culture.

Being a model you are exposed to so many different things daily, not just fashion but travel too. These two things together have really shaped the way I look at my wardrobe and what represents me and my South Asian heritage. I’m often picking up accessories on my travels that have a strong Indian look and pairing them up with Western clothing and that’s why the Grassroot by Anita Dongre collection stole my heart. It has the perfect balance of  Indian influences with Western silhouettes that completely checks all the boxes for clothing I like to wear.

Her storefront in SoHo represents women in New York City who are very proud of their heritage and also loyal to the countries they were raised in.

Even though I miss my London life at times, I have been lucky enough to find some real gems dotted across the Big Apple. Be it restaurants or clothing stores that make me feel very proud of the way Indians are being represented in America. I can’t wait to see what my journey and life in New York City evolves into. But I know for sure it will make missing my mum’s dinner a little more bearable.”

Grassroot by Anita Dongre is a contemporary platform created for the artisans of India. The objective is to nurture our treasure chest of handcrafted traditions by reviving, sustaining and empowering the arts and artisans by ensuring continuous work and creating livelihoods. The brand is a tribute to India’s handcrafted traditions and fashions them into contemporary tales. Grassroot is a luxury prêt brand that appeals to today’s evolved, sophisticated global woman who understands the value of slow fashion and has the fine taste to appreciate the legacy of craft by hand.
By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

‘A Man Sleeps in a Church:’ A Short Story by Sri Nimmagadda

Christian life crisis prayer to god. Woman Pray for god blessing to wishing have a better life. woman hands praying to god with the bible. begging for forgiveness and believe in goodness.

For BGM Literary, editor Nimarta Narang is honored to work with writer Sri Nimmagadda. In this short story, we follow a man in a gray suit who makes a stop at a church to bide his time before a job interview. Sri Nimmagadda is the Chief Program Officer at MannMukti, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental health in the South Asian community through storytelling and advocacy. He lives in Los Angeles with his dog, Rani, and is passionate about authentically growing inclusion and diversity through storytelling in the entertainment industry. Editor Nimarta was extremely grateful to have Sri join the legacy of wonderful and moving authors for the literary vertical in honor of Mental Health and Awareness month. 

A man in a gray suit stands in front of a church and looks up and through the entryway with the resignation of a desiccated man taking a bitter medicine he’s absorbed for years but simply accepts as a fact of his life, however unpleasant. So, the man in the gray suit — a get-up slim but not so lean as to emit a cockish, metrosexual air, scraggly lint escaping the seams across the surface in a manner that supposes either venerability or somewhat tired desperation — thinks about what it means to take a bitter medicine, the trade-off between the instantaneous sour, bitter, wretched, and cloying and the promise of perhaps a better tomorrow, or a better tonight, or a better five-minutes-from-now. After some consideration, this man in a gray suit — an outfit that some would’ve supposed he’d purchased from Goodwill, the night before, for a painfully wrought $95.67 with tax after getting into an argument with his wife about who was going to take the kids to school in the morning and fucking Brenda skipping out on babysitting again — steps inside the church.

This man in a gray suit — armed with a briefcase, and the last and latest copy of his résumé that he’d worked on until 1:30 a.m. the night before after Max and Annabelle had long gone to sleep and his angry, exhausted wife laid restless, in their shared bed, thinking about whether she’d consult the number of the divorce lawyer she’d been recommended by one of her girlfriends in the morning before deciding she’d give her husband another shot just as she had the night before and the night before that and the night before that — paces towards the front of pews almost cautiously, as if someone were watching him, afraid to be caught in the act of being vulnerable and giving himself up to some higher power. Maybe if you go to church and the pastor or some other demure, God-fearing soul sees you, they’ll call you out — who are you? why are you here? — and you’ll realize that for as much ado as people make about the unconditionality of God’s love, they make claims to His love the way they’d claim a parking spot or a position in a queue at a grocery store. Faith, it appears to the man in the gray suit, is really about paying your dues.

So the man in a gray suit approaches the front-most pew — the communion table before him standing guard ahead of a cross. He lays his briefcase down. He sits at the pew. He closes his eyes. Please, he begs Him in his own mind. I need this.

But then this man in a gray suit considers his pathetic whimper to God, how he can’t even acknowledge God by his name, how he begs Please rather than Please God like a weak, unfaithful man who cannot bring himself to say his wife’s name when begging her for forgiveness after his own infidelity. What a mess, he thought of himself. So, he tries again.

Please, God. I need this.

The man in a gray suit considers this again and admonishes himself for his cowardice — when you pray in your head, words and phrases, and sentences and prayers, and pleas twine and intertwine and mix until the signal becomes the noise and you can’t really figure out whatever you’re trying to say. So, for a half-second, you think the only way to get it out of your head is to blow it up so that it all spills out and maybe then God will understand how you really feel — and so he tries again, and puts his prayers to air. The man in a gray suit is not used to coming to church. This is his first time coming in a couple of years. He’s going to need a couple of tries to get this thing down.

“I’m sorry,” the man in a gray suit exhales, “I’m just not used to praying.” But that’s okay. Prayer is a process, the man in a gray suit would find, and what begins feeling ridiculous, or like grasping for spiritual straws, ends up feeling akin to a dam giving way to water; unrestrained, unexploited. So the man in a gray suit — the man who’s come an hour and a half early to an interview because the early bird gets the worm, only to find himself with an hour and a half to kill and nowhere but a church to grace with his presence — prays, and he prays faithfully, and he prays well. He picks up the Bible on the shelf of the pew in front of him, flips it open to whatever page presented itself and begins to read. He closes his eyes, and at that moment he feels safe, like God’s hands envelop him, and that tomorrow will be a better day, and everything will be okay.


Somewhere along the line, this stupid fucker in a gray suit fell asleep in the middle of Galatians and missed his interview.

By Nimarta Narang

Born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand, Nimarta grew up devouring Hindi movies, coming-of-age novels and one too many psychology textbooks. … Read more ›

Keeping our Friendships Strong as we Get Older

I organize play dates for my children. They’re friendships remind me of when I was younger when Fridays were consistently set aside for my friends. Now, it seems play is indeed meant for childhood and work is for aging adults. We often can’t find time for ourselves, let alone our friends, who are busy working mothers like ourselves. Or we moved into unreachable corners of this globe, far away from any means of physical communication. It’s fair to say, it’s hard to stay close to friends like when we were in college. Nowadays, it’s easier to travel, but more difficult to bond with others. “My Friend” asserts that we should not end let our friendships fall by the wayside. Even with physical distance and conflicting schedules, we keep our friendships close with kind words on phone calls, regular FaceTime calls, or even encouraging social media comments. Friendship doesn’t end once we become adults.

[Read Related: Connecting my Stories With Those of my mom and Grandma]

My Friend

The turbulent sea of a ticking clock,
A constant chime of chores
Unfolded laundry, unpaid bills.
For unplanned surprises, Life’s infinite stores

An achy neck, a heavy head,
A forever strong of burdens
Fleeting as they may be
Yet as real as my scribbling pens

In this world of lonely battles
Filled with competing souls
It’s you, my friend
Your comforting words, long strolls

Your phone calls, your laughter,
You listening when I’m remiss,
Your steady support,
The source of all my bliss.

[Read Related: 4 Brown Girls Who Write-U.K. Asian Sisterhood Changing the Dynamics of Poetry]

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Mars D. Gill

Mars D. Gill is the author of "House of Milk and Cheese" and "Letters from the Queen". She writes mainstream … Read more ›

The Pressures of Being the Perfect South Asian Woman

NAKED: The Honest Musings of 2 Brown Women was born in the autumn of 2018, when Mimi Mutesa and Selvi M. Bunce began sharing their poetry collections. It was scary, beautiful, and terrifying when they decided to trust each other with their most intimate thoughts. Not only did they feel relieved after doing so, but Selvi and Mimi also felt more seen as women of color. They embarked on their publication journey, so others may feel as seen as they did on that fateful autumn.

“Ingrown Hair” deals with the themes of societal and family pressures that are reflected throughout NAKED. Mimi and Selvi have always written for themselves. They see poetry as an outlet, and their poems exemplify their personal frustration and vulnerability. “Ingrown Hair” speaks to Selvi’s experience with the societal pressures of South Asian women, such as getting married, being a good wife, becoming a good mother, and leading a certain kind of life.

[Read Related: Exploring the Endless Possibilities of who I am In the Mirror]

Ingrown Hair

There is something strange beneath my skin
telling me to build a house,
make a home,
mother children.
I am not sure how to reconcile it.
My mother was strong
and a mother after all.
My philosophy has been to spend my time
on myself and the world.
I have always thought
I could simply address the thing under my skin
when it finally crawled out.
But when my family starts guessing
who will get married first, and my father
has been saving wedding money for years,
I begin to wonder
if I will have to pluck it out.

[Read Related: Reconstructing and Deconstructing our Ideals]

You can purchase your copy of NAKED on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Bookshop, and The Black Spring Press Group. Follow Selvi on Twitter and Instagram. Don’t forget to check out her project, Brown & Brazen.

The opinions expressed by the guest writer/blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brown Girl Magazine, Inc., or any employee thereof. Brown Girl Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the guest writer/bloggers. This work is the opinion of the blogger. It is not the intention of Brown Girl Magazine to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. If you’d like to submit a guest post, please follow the guidelines we’ve set forth here.
By Selvi M. Bunce

Selvi M. Bunce (she/they) has written for academic and creative journals and spoken at diversity conferences and TEDx. Selvi currently … Read more ›