• Dharma Nemani

Meet my mom friend: Usha Badrinath, founder, Festoon

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

We all have that one older sibling we aspire to be like and growing up, my cousin Usha was that person for me. She had the cool haircut, trendy clothes and a passion for success like nobody else I had met. Today, she lives in London, is mom to two amazing boys and a ridiculously cute cocker spaniel. She’s also a HBIC working in finance, has a yoga teacher certification and founded, Festoon.

Hi! Can you share a little more about yourself:

I work finance startups in the City of London, a world far far away from Festoon, my weekend baby!

Can you share more about Festoon? How the idea was born?

I was keen to recreate the Indian festival experience for my children, but as a working parent, it was a lot of effort to fit into our already busy lives. Spending hours in the kitchen to produce an array of festive delicacies just didn’t do it for us.

I soon realized my boys love it when I engage them through their creativity – crafting festivals together as a family, learning what the celebration actually stands for. They look forward to these occasions, a chance for them (and me!) to experience traditions with our dear friends, Indian or not.

I wanted to translate intangibles such as creative experiences with my children, the festive excitement and anticipation, the mythology and stories, and my own memories, into an “in-a-box” experience … and, just like that, Festoon was born!

How can we purchase Festoon boxes?

Please visit www.festoonbox.com to purchase your Ramayana puppet kit!

Is it hard keeping the boys interested in Deepavali and our culture, raising them in London?

While I would have loved to raise bilingual kids, sadly my children only speak English. I am constantly on the lookout for age appropriate Indian language movies, and we try to watch one or two every term, with heavy reliance on subtitles. Bedtime reading is skewed towards Indian mythology and Indian authors, both of which my boys love.

You recently became certified as a yoga teacher - amazing! How has yoga influenced your parenting?

The yoga was mainly for myself. I am always outwardly calm despite many demands on my time, but tend to get quite worked up inside. My husband was keen that I carve out time for myself, as I was constantly on the go. What started out as a two-hours-a-week escape a few years ago became such an essential part of my life, that one day I decided to get a teacher certification. I haven't started doing formal classes yet, but my own practice has improved tremendously. And I don't mean that I’m more flexible or muscular or thinner, or that I leap effortlessly into a headstand. The main difference is that I feel I have a real connection with my body. I recognize when I am tired, and when I am "hangry." These days I am more likely to react with humor rather than frustration when my six-year-old decides to sprawl on the road because he wanted to wear his football kit to school and I dressed him in cartoon t-shirt instead.

Any easy things moms can do with their toddlers to get them centered? More mindful?

I've found simple activities like coloring and crafting to be hugely helpful in calming my two active boys. Ever seen the look of complete focus on a child's face when they're trying to string beads together? Incomparable! And the reinforcement in the child's mind that focusing lets him or her create something tangible and beautiful...a picture, a string of beads, a kitchen roll puppet...priceless!

How do you prioritize yourself amidst your hectic life? My vices are yoga and interior design books and magazines (I have a huge stash!). Sounds bonkers, but I unwind by rearranging rooms at home!


© 2020 Love, Mishka