As we know, preparing for the holidays can be a full-time job. With a baby due any day, a growing career as a Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Dell, a busy husband starting a new medical practice, and a passion for community, Sikara & Co. investor and fan, Brandi Shaw tells us how she does it all. This sister-in-law to Sikara & Co. Founder, Mousumi Shaw, has found a way to balance career, family and friends, and did we mention she always looks fabulous? Hear how this ultimate Real Woman, Real Style Sikara fan is preparing for more than just the Holiday season.
SC: A day in my home includes ___.
BS: A BIG breakfast – even if it’s not heated, I eat a large breakfast to get my day started. I’ve done this all my life and especially while pregnant. I’ll eat chicken pasta or lasagna for example so not your typical breakfast some days.
SC: Every working woman should have ___?
BS: Time set aside in your calendar for just you! Schedule your yoga, hiking or lunch with friends, time to read your book – whatever makes you feel rejuvenated when you finish.
SC: My favorite part about living in Austin, TX is ___.
BS: The hills and access to great hiking trails, especially walking the Lady Bird Lake.
SC: I am definitely ___, mostly ___, and always ___.
BS: I am definitely excited to be pregnant with our baby girl, mostly nervous about what the future holds as a mom and always amazed to hear her heartbeat, feel her move and now have hiccups.
SC: No meal is complete without ___.
BS: Taking time to appreciate it (who you get to enjoy it with, how it was prepared and/or presented) and a bit of chocolate at the end never hurts!
SC: Biggest Celeb Crush (male, female or both)?
BS: He’s a local celeb of sorts as he has patients all over Austin, but I have to admit I still have a crush on my husband, Koushik Shaw. He’s on overall great guy and a hottie!
SC: If you could have dinner with any person, real or fictional, living or dead, it would be…?
BS: My mom. She lost her battle with cancer a few months after Koushik and I married. She loved us being together and I’d cherish talking with her about my happiness, becoming a mom and then watching her hug her granddaughter.
SC: The perfect night out includes___.
BS: Right now the perfect night is IN! Sitting on the balcony, watching the sunset over the lake during dinner and going for a walk in the neighborhood after. Blissful after a long day at the office while 8 months pregnant.
SC: You seem to have it all, Brandi: family, friends and a fabulous career. Tell us how you came to work at Dell and what you love most about your job.
BS: That’s a funny story. After 5 years with Citibank in Finance and then Product Marketing I took a great job with a technology company out in California. I fell in love with California, however when the dot.com bust eliminated my team I headed to Texas and wanted to try out living in Austin. Austin has similar hills/mountains, outdoor activities and smart, open minded and kind people so I felt at home immediately. I got a call from a VP that I used to work with at Citibank that had also moved to Austin asking if I’d like to go to lunch with him and his wife to catch up. Next thing you know our lunch has turned into a job interview and I’m working at Dell on his team. I’m going on 10 years with Dell and have had the opportunity to try several sides of the business. I now work with an amazing team that is diverse, driven and extremely productive. Working with so many interesting partners and building a strategy together to grow their business with Dell makes for a challenging and rewarding role. Every day is different and the ability to precisely measure your success is what I enjoy most.
SC: How do you balance work, play and maintain your family life with such grace?
BS: Thank you! I do tend to work hard and play hard as long as it’s “above the line”. I am constantly evaluating work goals, social outings and family time to be sure what I’m planning to do is above the line meaning is X more important than Y. I make a list of what needs my attention then draw a line and do not work on any item below that line. I’m aware of it but don’t allow myself to worry about it since it didn’t make the cut. That helps me keep a clear and focused mind. And I work hard to refresh my battery with at least 7 hours of sleep each night. I choose to have a positive outlook on life and for me good sleep is the biggest contributor to helping me maintain that frame of mind.
SC: You’re an incredibly organized person and with the holidays are just around the corner, we could all use some help in being the same. Give us 5-10 tips on how to stay organized and be prepared for the holidays.
BS: I start making lists or buying items that are a perfect match for anyone on my shopping list throughout the year. How fun is it to find something that you know your aunt will love for instance while shopping at an art festival in May?
I like to put up my holiday decorations before Thanksgiving. This gives me time to figure out what we need and visit the stores while the isles are full, organized and there are no crowds.
If you don’t want to buy it online, I find that running holiday errands after work vs waiting for the weekends when crowds are at their peak is better. Or, if you have a free Saturday around 5-8pm before a social outing, it’s typically a great time to shop as the crowds have thinned out.
SC: You’ve been involved with several charitable organizations in Austin. Tell us about those that you hold most dear and how people can become involved.
BS: Green Sari, Room to Read, Miracle Foundation and Breakthrough Austin are all special to me for different reasons. Breakthrough Austin which helps guide and develop children from the 7th grade all the way until they enter college reach their goal of becoming a first generation college graduate has a special place in my heart. As a first generation college graduate I remember the challenges my family and I faced just trying to figure out the first steps. And the process really begins when you’re a freshman and ultimately earlier so you have good habits and an appreciation for the goals you & your family need to reach to get into college. I’m on the board for Green Sari and find that our model of helping support established non-profits in Austin is unique and highly effective. The strategy works perfectly with the busy schedules we all have (each board member works full time, raises children and works with other non profits in lead roles) and generates impactful results. The feeling of giving back and hearing how you impacted another persons life is pretty awesome.
SC: Travel is something that has always been important to you. Where is your favorite place to visit?
BS: I love to visit a place that opens my mind to new experiences and cultures. Experiencing how a family lives happily together in one room in Morocco or a straw hut in the countryside of India. Getting lost in Bali or attending an International Black Ball Charity event in Jakarta – it’s all eye opening and if you dig deep, it can make a positive impact with your outlook on life.
SC: If you could only grab one thing from your home, what would it be?
BS: My computer – boring but I NEED it!
SC: What is your favorite Sikara piece?
BS: Oh, that’s hard as I love my entire collection! Mousumi has helped me find the perfect pieces – she really is amazing in so many areas of her life. Sikara’s success and amazing jewels are just one example. I’m lucky to have her a personal shopper when I visit the store! My full bloom Jaipuri cocktail ring has to be tops and a new ring under development. I bought the sample while visiting the Boston store and I get so many compliments each time I wear it. It’s fun to see the new items coming out!
SC: What do you love most about Sikara?
BS: The new store launching in Austin of course!