Spotlight Series: Khyati Desai-Seltzer

Introduce Yourself. Khyati Desai-Seltzer

Tell me about your family. I’m Indian and have been married for 9 years to a Jewish American man, who is a clinical social worker and I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter. 

How long have you lived or worked in NoVa? What area do you live/work (general areas)? I have lived in Arlington since 2003 and have worked in nonprofits in VA, DC, and MD. My most recent job was engaging low income residents in affordable housing communities in our region.

What is your business?

I teach parents the art and science of infant massage to alleviate gas/colic, improve sleep, increase bonding, reduce congestion, and so much more. I teach private and group in-person classes and recently released an online course to make it more convenient for busy parents to learn this life changing ancient practice. 

Tell me the story of how you got started. I left my 9-5 in early 2018 because the commute was long and the conditions were stressful with intentions of finding something closer to home. I was no longer having an impact and it was not worth leaving my daughter for it. Months later, I happened to read an article in a magazine about infant massage and thought back to the early days of massaging my daughter and wondered if women in America knew the power of baby massage. I went to Google and discovered there was an organization and they were having a training coming up. My husband encouraged me to go for it so I did! The training was near Baltimore and incidentally, my daughter got her first ear infection the night before my training. I was torn, as mothers often are, on leaving my sick child especially on two hours of sleep. However, we made it work and the training further solidified my belief in massaging babies as I learned alongside nurses and trainers. Initially, it was intended to be my side business but, as time went on, a friend mentioned that I wouldn’t put my all into seeing it succeed if I was invested in it. So, with the support of my husband, I took the plunge into investing in the business, while consulting on the side. 

Tell me about someone who has influenced your decision to start your own business? Aside from my supportive husband, my doula, Lindsey Vick, inspired me to start this business. As a mother herself and an entrepreneur, I loved how she integrated work and family and appreciated that the work she left her family to do was life changing. 

Do you feel supported as a female entrepreneur? Yes, definitely by other mompreneurs but American society, as a whole, has a long way to go to support working mothers, work/stay at home mothers, and mompreneurs. 

What’s something you struggle with being in this area? As a small business owner, you have to be the jack of all trades and learn everything from social media and digital marketing to accounting and finances. It’s a learning curve, to say the least, while you work to get your name out there. The cost of living is a struggle as is competing for people’s time and attention and, of course, always wanting more time with my family. 

What is the biggest obstacle you face as a working mother? Balancing the demands of work and home life. If I could work part time and have my daughter more often with me, that would be wonderful. 

What advice would you give to someone just starting as a business owner? Take the plunge! The circumstances will never be perfect. Oh and network a lot; there’s so much support out there and people are waiting to cheer you on. 

What do you do when you’re not working or being a mom? I LOVE to travel and we try to take one big trip a year. I also love to practice yoga and meditation. At some point, I want to get back to dancing more. 

What’s your favorite thing about this area? There is always something going on and every weekend I can choose to expose my daughter to music or dance or film or art or new playgrounds or spray grounds or new cuisines. I also love the diversity. It’s important for my husband and I that she grow up in a diverse, inclusive community. 

Favorite local restaurant? Pupatella, Urban Tandoor, Cava 

What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about being a mom? Aside from minimal sugar and screen time?:) eating together as a family, being outdoors, having a strong faith, being grateful, taking care of the environment, respecting diversity and differences, practicing mindfulness. 

I believe: our babies chose us to be their moms, motherhood is a lifelong sentence but never meant to be done single handedly, motherhood can be lonely even when you’re surrounded by people, daily self-care is critical to being a good mom, a strong partner is also critical, the most important thing I can give my daughter is love and time, I am her blueprint for how to be and how to show up so I have to address my issues while being a role model, bad moments don’t make me a bad mom, having a tribe of women is everything, laughing, having fun, and travel are so important as is faith and family, and how we raise our kids impacts the consciousness of the planet. 

What do you do as a family on the weekends? When our time isn’t committed to social events like birthday parties or showers or social dinners, we try to get outdoors or have indoor dance parties! 

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you? I like extreme activities like skydiving or paragliding!  I’m a huge advocate for social equity and justice.

Anything else you would like to share with the reader? Being a mother was never meant to be a solo endeavor and neither is being an entrepreneur. It’s critical that we build our village to support us with being mothers and to build our networks to support our entrepreneurship, at least until policies change so that families are better taken care of than they currently are. 

xo, MomingInNoVa

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