Being a mum of two and the director of an international arts company aren’t two roles that mesh easily, but Aarti Bajaj makes it look like one slick production. We sat down with her to talk business, life at home with husband Pawan and her son and daughter, Rohan (6) and Anika (4), and what keeps her sane when she’s trying to juggle both.
Tell us about what you do for work?
I’m the CEO, founder and artistic director of Wild Dreamer Productions. I see myself as a bit of a wild dreamer, and my aim is to bring various art forms and artistic talents to a platform where they are nurtured, giving them a chance to showcase their arts or their talents in the purest form.
Where did the concept for this come from?
One of the most important missions in life for me is to make arts a viable and sustainable career for every artist. I see arts as a universal language, and it’s about time that we break the imaginary boundaries and thick cages we have created around them. There is much that arts can offer to the world, and I want to show that good work could be good business too.
What’s your business background?
To me, ‘entrepreneur’ is a verb not a noun. It’s the way one thinks makes them a businessperson. I have been that entrepreneur all my life in various ways – I owned a dance school when we lived in Canberra and currently, along with Wild Dreamer Productions, I own and operate Navrasa Dance Academy.
Who were your mentors along the way?
My mum has always been – and still is – my driving force and the epitome of true woman strength. She taught me to not just stick to one or a few people as your mentors, but instead make your entire life your mentor: the people who teach you new skills along the way, and the experiences you go through (both good and not so good). So, in saying that, I would say that my biggest mentor is my own life – I will keep learning until my last breath.
What time does a typical day start for you?
3:50am. I’m an early riser. I dedicate 90 minutes to myself before I see the rest of the world each day.
Who does the cooking and cleaning at your house?
We do the cooking and cleaning as a family at our house. We (both my husband and I, along with my little kids) are a very gender-neutral kind of a family where everybody does all kinds of domestic chores. I must say I cook better curries, my husband makes yummy pastas and my kids make better icy poles.
If you have 10 minutes to yourself, what do you like to do?
I like daydreaming and looking into future – creating a more exciting future, to be more precise. So if I have 10 minutes, I invest those 10 minutes in dreaming up what I can do next.
What do you do for childcare?
Both my kids started childcare full time from the age of 5 and 8 months. They have always seen both their parents work full-time and they are very much part of this happy full-time working family.
What sort of one-on-one activities do you do with your child?
We eat together, we cuddle each other together, we talk to each other together, we cook and clean together. To us as parents these activities are more important than any other activities. Of course, we do lots of other activities like going to the park, eating ice cream, watching movies, going to the pool, playing cricket, etc.
What is your favourite thing to do for date night with your partner?
Get a babysitter, leave the kids behind, dress fancy, put my high heels on and go to a place where we both can sit together, have a good meal, and talk for hours.
What is your favourite local place to visit?
We live in Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove is our favourite place that we visit often.
How about favourite place to eat out as a family?
There is an Italian restaurant at the Sanctuary Cove called Ioesco. We love that place.
Where do you head to when you get time for a girls’ night out?
Do you want a real answer? Majority of the girls that I hang out with, we would either go for a good run, or compete in one of the races (running or triathlons) or get together over a good meal while planning exciting projects that we could bring to life. So, we are kind of happy boss ladies.
What is your best beauty tip for mums?
Do what keeps you happy and sane. Be yourself. Get inspired by others but be your own role models.
Favourite place to shop (locally and online)?
It’s a difficult question. I love fashion but I’m quite strategic in spending my time shopping. I barely go to shops and do majority of my shopping online. If I had to choose a couple of the websites, it would be Net-A-Porter and The Iconic, to name a few. For kids, I love Kmart and Target (practical, right?)
Must-have parenting tip or tool?
Parents are here to guide, share their life experiences and direct their children in the direction that they understand from their life learnings – but, they also understand that kids are their own individual selves. It’s very important for us as parents to step back and give these young beings space to explore and grow themselves.
Can you share any tips on finding the right work/life balance?
There is no right work/life balance. You have to keep creating that with every step you take. It takes two to tango. The balance only happens when both partners in the family do that tango called life continuously, with full responsibility for each other.
How do you stay motivated in your career?
I don’t really stay motivated in my career – instead, the careers that I choose give me the motivation and inspiration to keep going.
WHAT’S ON // HYPED!! at St Hilda’s School, Gold Coast, Thursday September 12 from 5pm ‘til 6.30pm
Don’t miss Aarti Bajaj’s latest production, HYPED!!. Hosts Suzanne Dervish Ali, Jaya Fisher Smith and Brynne Morris and the four creative minds behind the show, Barbara Prestia, Chantal Bryan, Toni Melrose and Monica Pema (holistic psychologist), will come together on Thursday September 12 for an exclusive preview, where education meets creative art, dance and theatre.
RSVP: By the Monday September 9 to Joanne Rahn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographer credit: Helen Selmeczy Photographer, www.facebook.com/HelenSelmeczyPhotographer