A conversation with Mownika Chawla

A conversation with Mownika Chawla

We began working with Mownika Chawla, founder and CEO of Hava World, earlier this year to create our first-ever custom Rangoli print in celebration of Diwali. Mownika launched Hava after she struggled to find traditional Indian clothing for her son Rohan to wear to family occasions. Like Clover, Hava collections are designed with hand drawn prints and “inspire curiosity in our littles while keeping up with their adventures.” So naturally this was a perfect fit.  

We know how passionate you are about teaching children about cultures and communities other than their own.  As a mom, how do you do this in your own home? What are some of your favorite resources/books/products to support parents with young kids?

Growing up in Texas as an Indian-American wasn’t easy. I wasn’t surrounded by people who looked like me or ate the foods we ate at our dining table, and I didn’t see other moms that dressed like mine. I often found myself very self-conscious of being so different and ultimately, that feeling impacted the way I saw myself and the world around me. These were the experiences I reflected on when I became a mother. I wanted to make sure my kids were surrounded by the tools and resources that would help them embrace their unique identity as well as learn to appreciate the differences they saw in others. 

The most rapid brain development occurs in the first five years of a child’s life and especially in the first three. During this time, teaching children about cultures and communities other than their own, encourages curiosity and helps develop empathy. When we teach children to see themselves as citizens of the world, we are doing our part in raising a stronger generation with greater respect and openness towards one another with a hope that as they grow, they see themselves bound together as a global community. 

Since it’s not always possible to take kids out into the world to experience every community firsthand, we rely on tools to bring the world to them. Different cultures can be explored through the clothes we wear, the foods we eat, the books we read, the languages we speak or even by way of observing our own and new traditions. We are living in an unprecedented time of conscious parenting and because of that, there are more resources available than ever before to support our parenting to us in doing so. 

Orboot Earth 

An app that takes your child on an augmented reality-based journey around the world!  

Family Diversity Blocks  

The game encourages respect for diversity through the verbalization of the different types of families.  

The Chutney Life Cookbook 

The incredible woman behind @thechutneylife on Instagram just released a cookbook and we are so excited to make these dishes with the kids!  

Sandwiches and Samosas 

A great book for young readers that celebrates cultural food.  

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners  

A children’s picture book that celebrates our differences in appearances.  

We loved designing our custom Rangoli print for Diwali with you. Can you share your experience working on this collab and why it was important to you? 

I loved working on this with y'all! I was so touched by the enthusiasm, and it was so fun to create a design that represented both of our brands. It is so important to us as a family, and, also for Hava as a business, to share our traditions within our community! We strongly believe that celebrating diverse fashion within a child's everyday wardrobe can inspire values — like curiosity, love, and appreciation for other cultures — within their budding minds and open hearts. 

We’d love to hear about the Diwali customs and traditions you practice with your family. And tell us about the incredible event you plan every year!   

Diwali is such a fun time for us! Throughout the month leading up to Diwali, we always have so many fun parties, often centered around adults. We couldn't find an immersive experience for the kids, so we teamed up with Modi Toys last year to create an event that really focused on the kids. It was such a success, so we decided to make it an annual tradition. This year, we worked with Jasmin Wala of Wala events to bring our vision to life.  

Diwali is a five-day festival celebrating the victory of good over evil and light over dark. Day 1 is called Dhanteras – the day of good fortune. Fortune refers to general well-being and prosperity as well as money and valuables. Money is ceremoniously purified by washing it in milk, to symbolize the renewal of good intentions towards it and the motivation to use it to benefit family and the greater good. It is also a time for sharing wealth and replace feelings of greed with generosity. Day 3 is the main day, and we usually spend the day with extended family. My mother-in-law leads us in a Lakshmi Puja (a Hindu Festival where devotees offer prayers to Lakshmi—the goddess of wealth) which is followed by eating our favorite foods and opening gifts of course!   

Tell us more about your children’s clothing brand Hava and why you decided to start your own company?  

Hava is inspired by my childhood and my love for experiencing other cultures and our mission is to encourage children to embrace a global community through our brand. When my son was two months old, we were planning to attend a family wedding, and I couldn’t find Indian apparel that was cute and comfortable. What I did find, didn’t fit him well and the fabric didn’t feel great. After attending a few more family events with the same issue, I began researching the available options and discovered there really weren’t any— so I decided to make them myself. Knowing that these type outfits are worn exclusively for special occasions and then generally sit in a closet, I really wanted to create clothes that could be more versatile. By incorporating traditional Indian designs and patterns with child-friendly machine washable fabrics, we produce clothing that kids love to wear, and parents love to dress them in! 

Favorite part of motherhood: The cuddles and watching their personalities develop. 

Go-to weeknight meal for the family: Mac and cheese, hot dog, fruit, and yogurt. 

Something you wish you knew before becoming a mom: It's ok to need/want time away from the kids!  

Currently watching / reading / listening to:  Yellowstone / A Court of Thorns and Roses/ Taylor Swift with my son Rohan 

Guilty pleasure: Real Housewives! 

Beauty must-have: Ranavat Saffron Serum