Artist and entrepreneur Jas Charanjiva on the importance of self-care rituals

Artist and entrepreneur Jas Charanjiva on the importance of self-care rituals

The self-taught artist and co-owner of Kulture Shop proves that change begins from within

By Mamta Mody  January 10th, 2020

“Everything starts from the fire I have for wanting to see things change,” says Jas Charanjiva. The self-taught artist and co-owner of the lifestyle store, Kulture Shop has been channelling this angst into art ever since she was a teenager. Growing up in California, she was moved by underground artists and skateboard culture to create artworks that made a statement about society.

 

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The Pink Lady has a new sister. Five years back, I was standing on an island between the busy two-way traffic in front of Todi Mills in Mumbai, waiting for a safe time to dash across. I was standing next to a man and didn’t notice the young woman next to me in a full burqa till she grabbed my hand and said “Ok, let’s go!” While I was amazed by what she did, I was disappointed at myself for being so amazed. Why should I be extra impressed with her? Just because she was wearing a burqa, was I expecting a shy girl instead of a bad-ass female underneath the garb? Also was she invisible to me and that’s why I didn’t notice her? I was immediately inspired by these thoughts and imagined an art series promoting the personalities and fearlessness of women under burqas. . #burqa #muslim #sisterhood #unity #female #humanity #humanrace #girlpower #womensempowerment #boom #pinklady #india #indiaagainstcab #indiaagainstcaa #stickers #graffiti #streetart #mumbai #bandra

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Now, her street art rallies for an inclusive, cruelty-free future, like the Pink Lady mural (her reaction to the 2012 Nirbhaya case) has come to be known as a symbol of women empowerment. In March, a larger version of this artwork will feature alongside works of artists, like Ai Weiwei at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. She’s soon going to release an educational series on speciesism inspired by her in-depth research into factory farming. 

She talks to us about the importance of following a daily routine and self-love. 

ELLE: Creating art is often an inward journey that makes you question everything that’s going on around you. How do you care for your emotional health? 

Jas Charanjiva: It’s really important to switch off, otherwise you could create some bad patterns. When the Nirbhaya incident happened, it consumed me. Some time later, when I was researching factory farming, I was again totally absorbed by something I greatly wanted to change. I also became fully vegan around this time. I was sleeping three to five hours a day, and constantly being upset by what I was reading or watching. This caused me to fall behind at work, which led to me feeling disappointed in myself and getting impatient and anxious. I’m just learning to compartmentalise things and my day again, so I can gain good balance. As an artist, activist, and entrepreneur, it’s really important to stick to a routine in order to accomplish your goals. 

 

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ELLE: How do you begin your day? 

JC: Morning routines are golden for every super achiever I follow and have learned about. I find it’s no problem for me to get into a routine where I’d wake up at 4 or 5am; the only problem is staying consistent. Once I’m back to this regular routine, I wake up and head to the gym, where I also listen to the latest Impact Theory episode, watch a documentary or one of my favourite American Late Night talk shows. Then I shower and have breakfast (sometimes I’ll have daal and roti). I work on my personal project for three hours, and by 10am I’m heading to the Kulture Shop office where I start my day at work. Whenever I’ve followed this routine, I’ve been the happiest and I’ve looked the healthiest. 

Handwoven silk jacket, Payal Khandwala. Cotton blend pants, Massimo Dutti. Brass earrings, Studio Metallurgy.

ELLE: As an artist who spends a lot of time doing street art, what self-care rituals do you follow? 

JC: I bottle my own charcoal turmeric and use it as a scrub on days when I come home dirty and oily. At the end of a long project, I’ll treat myself to a pedicure and Thai foot massage—circulation is so important when you’re on your feet all day. Also, after a hot shower, I go straight to bed. I avoid the trap of visiting social media if I have to be back on the street early in the morning. 

 

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ELLE: What beauty products do you rely on? 

JC: Using cruelty-free products is really important to me. For sake of ease, I buy The Body Shop’s vegan products line called Drops of Youth to stay moisturised, and sleep with a hydrating mask from the same line. I do, however, wish to move away from packaged skincare products and create my own cleansers and moisturisers. One thing I see really good results in is eating amla every day and drinking two litres of water with lemon. I’d like to use 2020 as the year to prepare myself to go raw and organic. There’s a 62-year-old raw vegan chef (@rawtoeresa) I follow on Instagram who I find very inspiring—she moves like a 20-year-old and slays at cartwheels and headstands. 

 

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ELLE: How do you own your beauty even when it’s not celebrated in mainstream culture? 

JC: Having grown up and lived in a few North American cities, the way I saw myself evolved with age, experiences and my environment. In Toronto, I was maybe one of two brown kids in my class. I pretty much wanted to be white. There were no cool Indian influencers or models that I knew about, till I discovered supermodel Yasmeen Ghauri when I was 12. Throughout my tweens, teens and 20s, I based my beauty on the number of boys who liked me—otherwise I was confused as to whether I was beautiful or not. This is perhaps what happens when beauty of all races isn’t celebrated enough. I began owning my beauty in my late 20s and early 30s, you can say, while I was living in more diverse and bigger cities (San Francisco and New York City). It’s important to not lose confidence as a teen when self-image plays a big role in the choices you make in life. 

 

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ELLE: What beauty advice has stayed with you over the years? 

JC: Sleep for seven to eight hours a day. It’s tough to follow this when personal and business projects overlap, but this is where you have to learn to say ‘no’ to some opportunities for the sake of health. Sometimes, I’ll take a magnesium vitamin for sounder sleep. Aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Rubbing your nails together, back and forth, to keep your hair from falling—I swear by this. Lie down for 15 minutes with a layer of real aloe vera gel (straight from the plant) on your face and just focus on your breathing. 

Photograph: Shubham Lodha; Styling: Pujarini Ghosh; Hair and make-up: Nikhar Jivani/ Eficiente Artist Management