A trans woman holding a wooden box she handprinted. Her hair is open and she is smiling beautifully

Ishq mask gift box

The Ishq Mask Gift Box is a labor of Love.  It is a fair trade coming together of 6 collaborations, to tell stories of communities that usually aren’t told.

At Ishq, I want every single aspect to heal your skin and support social causes, locally and globally. I wanted to do a Gift Box since the beginning of 2020. But nothing I explored felt right. I was super frustrated and almost gave up on the idea. But there was something in me that said

“Wait.”

You know the feeling in your gut, the slight fluttering stillness where you know something’s about to happen, something good, but don’t know what or when? That’s what I had. To make a long story short:

– Asked a friend for organizations in India that work with the Trans community

– Emergency trip to Bangalore to help take care of Abba

– Thought process: “Hey, I’m here. Let’s explore the Ishq Mask Gift Box”

A trans woman holding a wooden box she handprinted. Her hair is open and she is smiling  beautifully
Shanthi holding the box she hand painted

 

 

 

It was that simple but wasn’t that simple. It took me months of searching online, poking in old Bangalore neighborhoods, countless conversations with family, giving up on the idea twice because things weren’t happening, tears, prayers and a long conversation with Mindset Coach & Master Connector Aria Leighty for the Ishq Mask Gift Box to happen.

This beautifully soulful project has 6 collaborations. Each is unique, but come together like they were always meant to be. When you purchase your Ishq Mask Gift Box, your monies directly support these small businesses.

 

Ishq Mask Box Designs for you to choose from

 

There is a town in rural Southern India, close to Bangalore, called Channapatna (chuh-ah-naa-pat-naa) that’s super famous for brightly painted wooden toys. So famous that The White House has some of them.

Collaboration 1:

https://youtu.be/tDG21zRd9Ks
Wood Workers at the Channapatna factory that makes Ishq Mask Gift Boxes

If you grew up in Southern India, you’ve played with Channapatna toys. Local art that’s beautifully handcrafted, nontoxic, sustainable and fun.

Sometime in the 90’s, cheap knock offs from China came into the toy market. Channapatna toy makers started losing work. The industry dwindled down to almost nothing. As a child in the 90’s, this made me very sad. There was a deep desire in me to do something for this ancient artwork.

When I found out that Channapatna toy makers have transitioned to making merchandise, I knew I had to have them handcraft Ishq Mask Gift Boxes. Up front these boxes cost more than the ones you get at big box stores, but the joy they bring me is priceless. I know Ishq monies have gone to support an ancient industry that uses sustainable practices. And, it’s a fulfillment of a childhood wish, one that I hadn’t spoken out loud.

It humbles me to tell you,

Your Ishq Mask Gift Box is handcrafted by Channapatna toy makers using sustainably harvested pinewood.

Master Wood Worker with one of the Ishq Mask Gift Boxes

Collaboration 2:

Growing up in India, there was a community we were taught to fear – the Trans genders, Trans women to be specific. I would see these manly women in sarees asking for money at traffic lights and markets. They were different from the other panhandlers though. They wouldn’t accept cheap change. It had to be a certain amount of money. They had this aura of brute strength laced with femininity that I found fascinating.

Shanthi’s Design

The treatment of Trans women in Indian society is beyond messed up. Shunned by families and treated as untouchables, vilified as child abductors but at the same time, considered lucky. The only time Trans women are welcomed by society is at weddings and birth of children. The hypocrisy behind their blessings being wanted but them being shut out from a basic standard of living is blinding. I grew up with this deep desire to work for and with these women, especially when I came to know that the only means of survival for them was sex work and/or begging.

Back in August, 2020 when asked by my mindset coach Selena Maestas and my business strategy coach Sheila Gray to write down things out of the box for Ishq, the first thing I wrote down was my childhood desire to help improve Trans women lives in India. It was manifestation in the most beautiful way!

https://youtu.be/QXGDC3nacDU
Trans Women Artists Painting Ishq Mask Gift Boxes

I had to make an emergency trip to India in October of 2020 to help take care of my Dad. It is very hard to see him in pain, but also super grateful for the opportunity to serve my family.

My friend, Shilpa Kannan recommended the Aravani Art Project, a wonderful organization in Bangalore, India empowering the Transgender community using art to bridge the inequity gap in society. These artists are a joy to be with! Their artwork is in demand – painting murals on walls all around Bangalore city, in the Australian Consulate in Chennai, schools and libraries in slums. One of the highlights of my emergency trip to Bangalore, was to see them enjoy painting The Ishq Mask Gift Boxes. They came up with their own original designs and painted the boxes with such vibrancy that feel like windows into their souls.

https://youtu.be/XgkDoOnuTWI
My Visit to The Aravani Art Project Studio

To have Ishq play a small part in Trans women empowerment fills my soul with immense warmth.

Sharing Laddoos and Samosas on the first day of The Ishq Mask Gift Box Project

Collaboration 3:

I’ve grown up with my Parents being super engaged in civic and social improvement, especially for communities that are short changed by greater society. Abba is the President of Maymar Charitable Trust in Bangalore. One of their many projects is to uplift people living in slums. They open health clinics, offer micro loans especially to women, provide mentorship and teach trade skills. Teaching women to sew is one of them. Your Ishq Mask Gift Box comes with a reusable bag handcrafted by these tenacious women.

Sabiha, the lead seamstress who makes Ishq product bags

In India, and I’m sure in other parts of the developing world, when a woman is financially empowered it allows her the freedom to leave an abusive situation, to provide her children with better education and nutrition.

Women empowerment is a social cause close to my heart. It makes me so, so happy to know that Ishq monies are directly involved in improving women’s lives around the World.

Collaboration 4:

My mission is to make organic skincare simple, sustainable and accessible for everyone. Ishq Masks are nourishing blends of non-toxic dry ingredients. To activate the healing vitamins and minerals, you need to mix in a liquid that suits your skin the best. To make it easy for you to have a sensual, healing experience, your Ishq Mask Gift Box comes with a carved wooden bowl and spoon handcrafted by Toy makers of Channapatna. Handcrafted with locally sourced Ivory wood and hand painted with vegetable dye, these bowls are a work non toxic, beautiful work of art

A wooden bowl & spook
Ivory Wood Bowl & Spoon
 

Supporting Indigenous art, locally and globally, is something that I love to do and I’m grateful to carry this into my small business.

Collaboration 5:

Where would we be without our farmers? One of my favorite things to do is to buy directly from our local growers. These folks are out in all weather gently coaxing our Earth to nourish us.

From day 1, I’ve used ingredients sourced from Oregon farms and companies. In 2020, I decided to make it super local, by having organic ingredients grown in the greater Portland area.

Your Ishq Mask Gift Box comes with a mini organic dried flower bouquet grown on Sauvie Island by Cartwheel Community Farm It makes me so happy to say that!

Collaboration 6:

The Ishq Mask Gift Box wouldn’t be possible without Ishq, organic masks to be specific. To round up the sustainable healing, this piece of art comes with your choice of an organic Ishq Mask.

I love using masks on my face! Just the thought of using one makes my pores dance in healing anticipation. Vitamin and mineral rich, Ishq Masks nourish your skin helping reduce inflammations while brightening and tightening. Ishq Masks are my number one recommendation when people ask me for advice on how to keep acne/inflammations/sensitivity under control.

All Ishq Masks are in a powder for that allows you the freedom to mix in a liquid that suits your skin the best, and they don’t expire.

Ishq Organic Masks-Sustainable Healing

 

A part of my mission is to make organic skincare simple and sustainable. The Ishq Mask was designed around your Ishq Mask. To make it easy for you to use, I’ve included a wooden bowl and spoon for mixing your skincare magic. 

You know, the most wonderful things happen in the most unexpected way. The Bangalore trip is super hard, but it also gave me the opportunity to take Ishq to another level, where my small business can be part of a greater movement of healing. I am excited to share The Ishq Mask Gift Box with you and hope it brings you sustainable joy and immense healing.

May Ishq Envelop You with All the Love and Goodness that’s Put in it
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