Meet Luckshmi Nirmalananda: Founder of The Heritage Supply Co.
Entrepreneur Luckshmi Nirmalananda was born into an immigrant Sri Lankan Tamil family in California. Exposed to her roots at a young age, she subsequently cultivated a balanced multicultural identity – learning Carnatic music, Hindu philosophy, and Bharatanatyam, alongside Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics, and piano. She also has fond memories of yearly trips to India and Sri Lanka to stay connected to her heritage. Consequently, her multicultural background paved the way for her future in entrepreneurship.
“My career was originally in international economic development,” said Luckshmi. “I specialized in inclusive microfinance, livelihoods, and agriculture development with a focus on the poorest communities. Through my work, I worked and lived all across India (Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai), Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Swaziland, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, Colombia, Haiti, Jordan…it goes on! Little did I know at the time how much all of this experience would equip me with the knowledge and connections needed to create The Heritage Supply Co.”
Luckshmi developed a deep passion for the plethora of ethnic, cultural, and tribal groups of the world- from their philosophical and religious beliefs to their lifestyle and traditions in art and music. Her business, The Heritage Supply Co., was born out of the amalgamation of Luckshmi’s fascinating global and cultural experiences.
The Heritage Supply Co.’s Mission:
The Heritage Supply Co.® is a business focused on preserving and passing on the knowledge, wisdom, and art of ancient heritages. Their innovative toys combine old world knowledge with contemporary designs. THSC delivers premium, eco-friendly, and easy-to-use toys to young families.
“I’m a mother to 4 little girls, and they are the ultimate reason why I decided to create The Heritage Supply Co.,” said Luckshmi. “When I became a mother, I was so keen for my girls to know, appreciate, and embrace the richness of their cultural identity and language. I wanted them to find joy and pride in their heritage in beautiful and playful ways. I also wanted them to relish and treasure other ancient cultures of the world firsthand before they ended up in museums. Ideally, we can be part of the movement to keep ancient cultures out of museums and relevant.”
Bringing the idea to life:
Luckshmi hopes to pass on the cultural and religious nourishment she received in her childhood to children everywhere through her company’s toys. She also notes the lack of diversity in the toy market, and believes her company can help fill that void.
Said Luckshmi, “I would often say to my husband, “Wouldn’t it be great if this same electronic toy was available in Tamil for our kids? Just think how much they’d pick up just through self-play.” When I first moved to Sydney, I taught Hinduism in a local public school, and couldn’t find appropriate tools and resources to teach my classes, especially in a refreshing way that resonated with young, curious minds that dared to question the mythology and the mantras. I had to make them myself in the most crude yet creative of ways with a few supplies from the local crafts store and the internet!”
Luckshmi’s husband gave her a nudge that helped her start her unique venture.
“One day, he said, “Why not create the products you have in mind yourself? Why wait for someone else to create these?” and here we are! Today, we’re so proud and humbled to stand alongside other like-minded brands ignited by the same visions and passion!”
Currently, the company produces toys that teach the fundamentals of Hindi, Tamil, and Gujarati. Luckshmi hopes for the company to expand beyond these languages quite soon. By 2022, they also expect to diversify their products, going beyond the field of educational toys.
“We’ve created alphabet jigsaw puzzles that teach alphabet sounds and basic vocabulary of various animals and plants in Hindi, Gujarati, and Tamil,” the entrepreneur stated. “The artwork is all custom commissioned and done by Indian artists. The artwork is also inspired by the art of the cultural groups represented in our products. We also have created beautiful wall stickers to decorate bedroom, classroom, and playroom walls while teaching children their alphabets. Each sticker or decal is on its own sheet; they double as learning flashcards as well!”
Giving Back to the Planet:
For the eco-conscious customer, great news: All THSC products are made with eco-friendly inputs. For example, the jigsaw puzzles and upcoming building blocks contain 100% recycled FSC-certified wood and cardboard. Their products also feature non-toxic inks, thereby making them safe for kids and the planet. Furthermore, all their products are also tested by a third party lab, ensuring they meet the most rigorous safety requirements in the world. Additionally, THSC engages in charity.
“We also believe in giving back to communities! A portion of every sale goes towards supporting various organizations that uplift the lives of marginalized communities,” said Luckshmi. “Our most recent impact partnership is with the Desai Foundation. For every sale of a Gujarati product, we support health camps to inform thousands of women and children in rural Gujarat about the importance of preventative care to slow the spread of COVID.”
Creating a Business of Authenticity:
While Luckshmi is literate in the languages featured in THSC’s products, she works with language specialists, ensuring accuracy of vocabulary and transliteration. THSC is a one woman show; Luckshmi wears all hats, from designing products to overseeing manufacturing, logistics, and fulfilling orders. She also considers inputs from her own children, whom she considers an honest source of feedback, to produce authentic, educational products that deconstruct oppressive narratives of ancient cultures, weaving a message of empowerment into the toys instead.
“I consider The Heritage Supply Co. to be one of the more progressive brands out there,” said Luckshmi. “We like to question everything we were once taught about our religion, culture, and history. THSC aims to strain it of all chauvinism and prejudice. We’ve also tried to create products that are mindful of the varying degrees of knowledge that our generation has of their language and culture.”
Striking a Balance:
Between balancing her personal life as well as her professional commitments, Luckshmi constantly finds herself multitasking. However, despite the workload, she manages to make time for herself.
“It is important that I strike the right work, life, and spiritual balance,” Luckshmi shared. “Otherwise, passion can morph into burnout and all-consumption, and The Heritage Supply Co. is not about that. For me, it’s all about sparking love for the wealth of knowledge that our heritage blesses us with. To strike that balance, my non-negotiables are exercise, meditation, yoga, reading and learning new things every day. I also love optimizing life with my children, husband, and good friends over fabulous food! We love cooking and eating in our home!”
THSC’s impact and operations:
Customers enjoy the quality and utility of THSC’s products. They also share photos and messages of gratitude with Luckshmi, who’s deeply moved by the response.
“We’ve been told that we’ve made South Asian language, culture, and identity cool again and things to be proud of!” stated Luckshmi.
The Heritage Supply Co. operates from 2 locations: Los Angeles, US, and Sydney, Australia. Prospective customers in the US as well as other countries can purchase toys at www.theheritagesupplyco.com. Customers in Australia can buy toys at www.theheritagesupplyco.com.au. In addition, THSC sells wholesale to retail partners, and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also active on their Instagram and Facebook pages.
Luckshmi’s advice to fellow entrepreneurs:
“Stay true to yourself and your mission. Never forget or compromise on the principles and values that started you on your entrepreneurial journey. Keep going! The best is yet to come!”