Photo Courtesy: Ami Desai
Once a producer for household TV networks like E! And CNN, Ami Desai has always been drawn to the camera. Paired with her longtime affinity for all things beauty, it’s little surprise that today she’s found success as a popular lifestyle and beauty expert. Maybe you’ve seen her teach women how to wear saris for BuzzFeed or do Lily Singh’s (aka Superwoman’s) hair and makeup? The daughter of engineers, Ami has always admired her parents’ hard work and great ethic—particularly their ability to work and be home in time to make dinner. Today, Ami does that same juggling act with her husband, and she’s loving every minute of it. As we continue to celebrate South Asian movers and shakers here at Kama, we want to introduce you to a group of women whose entrepreneurial spirits truly inspire us. Here’s more of what you need to know about this boss.
Manhattan Beach, CA
“I joined Dreamworks as a digital host for their multi-channel network, Awestruck. It’s a platform for new and aspirational moms. I host a weekly series called ‘Single Shot’ that explores topics relevant to babies, moms and females in general.
“I am also a contributor for Buzzfeed India where I demonstrate a variety of beauty and hair techniques unique to the South Asian audience. Lastly, I am a beauty & lifestyle expert for Hello Joyus, where I get to test out some of the coolest new beauty products on the market. Think of it as your modern-day QVC online.”
“I started out as a producer behind the camera…I took a step back and realized I wanted to focus on a career where I could be my own boss. With my experience behind the lens, I learned a great deal about what looks good on camera and had a knack for doing hair and makeup, so I decided to start my own company specializing in South Asian clients. Soon after starting my own business, I was approached by a production company to produce and host a travel series called Lux Lifestyles on Wealth TV.
“I got to travel eight cities in India and really explore them—I got paid to travel!! After that, I got pregnant with my first baby and took a few months to focus on being a mom. Then a friend that worked at OWN called and said Oprah was starting her very first digital show and was looking for hosts. I auditioned and got it and spent three years working with Oprah and the OWN family for #OWNshow. It was amazing! I even got to go on tour with Oprah and have my parents meet her.
“Getting to be in charge of your work/life balance can be the hardest part when you’re your own boss. But when you strike that balance it’s amazing!”
A Day in the Life:
“I’m up early with my two small children (3 and 2). We do breakfast and preschool drop off for my 3-year-old son. This is something I always try to make sure I do so I get to spend that time with my kids.
“For work, my schedule is somewhat set but also determined on a week-to-week basis depending on shoots, etc. I go in to shoot ‘Single Shot’ Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and then on Tuesday, I work on my social media and YouTube channel. Thursdays, I fly solo with the kids and no extra help, I’m Mom all day long, which is nice because I am forced to stay away from too many electronics.”
“In high school, we were asked what we wanted to be when we were older, and I said I wanted to own a beauty salon called ‘One Stop Shop’ where you could get your nails, hair, and makeup done. I was dead serious, and when my traditional Indian parents read my essay they had different plans for me. It’s funny because, in the end, I still came back to the beauty world!”
“I can have a horrible day or audition then see my children’s little faces and hear their little voices, and I light up. And no one has better words of encouragement than my lovely hubby, who I’ve had the pleasure of being with since we were 18! So, he knows exactly how to cheer me up and keep me motivated!”
The Success Manual:
- Always remember the name of every person you work with. “No matter how low or high they are on the totem pole, you never know who will be able to help you in the future and whose path you may cross. You’d be surprised at how small the world is especially within your industry. A lot of what I’ve been able to accomplish is because of my networking and connections through relationships I invested in. My dear friend Karamo Brown told me this and I’ve lived by it ever since.”
- Don’t be afraid to go after what you want. “For most generations before us, [South Asian women] have always adhered to very set ways of choosing our careers, but it’s okay to be different. Even if you have to set goals aside (i.e. making a certain amount of money at a certain age), the risk to invest in yourself is well worth it. It may take time to see but it will pay off. And if it doesn’t you can always, always go back to working a more traditional job.”
- Don’t let others get in your head and don’t compare yourself to other people. “Set your goals small and tackle them monthly — this will help you achieve so much more than you ever expected.”
“She’s the Boss” is a weekly profile Kama that highlights the achievements of professional South Asian women.