Meet Harpo. She’s a passionate brown girl who adores being a brown girl. She’s navigating and unpacking her own brown girl guilt, while continuously exploring what a world without that guilt looks like for herself and her didis. She loves conversations, creating space, taking space, and cultivating space. A space she really loves exploring is the third space in which hybrid, bicultural identities thrive & survive. You would probably catch her at any moment nose deep in a book, curating the perfect playlist, or drinking red wine. Harpo is also quite the smartie pants, with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology & Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Arts in Education & Society: Gender and Women Studies from McGill University.

BGG Text - Purple

Tell us about your journey?

I have always had a passion for community, creating change, and facilitating dialogue. It wasn’t until I was in my graduate studies program that the women’s studies professor of the course I was in urged our class to curate an online presence. She taught me the importance of cultivating community online and taught me how to create a digital space that allowed me to combine my passion for community, change, and dialogue. The blog
and Instagram account I started as a result allowed me to foster a unique online community where I could document my experiences as a second generation Punjabi Canadian and Punjabi woman.

Simultaneously, I began a podcast with a friend of mine and her mother titled “Khulke: A Podcast for All Generations” where I fell in love with hosting and storytelling. The strength that comes with opening yourself up and practicing vulnerability on a microphone was incredibly captivating for me.

Around the same time, I began working full-time as a producer for a local radio station. I learned the ins and outs of production behind the microphone, how to excel as a host in front of the microphone, and how a career in media could tie together all my loves: community, change, and dialogue.

All this to say that Brown Girl Guilt is the blooming of a seed that has been growing and spreading out its roots for the past three years.

What is the hardest challenge you have come up against in your personal/professional life?

The hardest challenge that I’ve come up against is my own imposter syndrome. I’ve always felt that the only real hurdle standing in my way was the limiting beliefs I had in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough, deserving enough, or well-equipped enough to first go after my dreams and second, actually being successful in whatever endeavours I set out on.
I always sought to shrink myself even when I wanted to really open myself and express. What I learned, though, is that electricity follows the path of least resistance. The more I resisted the blessings and lovely things I deserved, whether it was love, accolades, or upward advancement in my career, the more unhappy I felt. I learned that I had to stop resisting and getting in the way of my own success and happiness.

What advice would you give young South Asian women wanting to do what you do?

“Block out the noise.” We’re capable of achieving anything we set our hearts and minds to, but the universe will send many distractions our way to test us. For me, blocking out the noise and that which doesn’t align me to my highest potential has allowed me to remain grounded and consistent with all my goals. The only voice that truly matters is your own, and you can’t hear it if you’re too focused on the noise.

What does “women empowering women” mean to you?

“Women empowering women” has meant and continues to mean many things to me. Right now it means meeting the various women in my life where they are at and supporting them in embracing their truest, most authentic expression. It means learning from one another’s successes and mistakes, taking guidance and providing guidance when it’s needed, and creating space for the many complexities and nuances that come with being South Asian women.
I’ve always sought to empower my South Asian sisters by starting inward and projecting that outward. I hope that the way I model vulnerability, open dialogue, critical self-awareness and the way that I have begun adopting radical self-love in my everyday life is how I may be able to empower my sisters to also do the same.


If you could tell your teenage self something, what would it be?

You can be every little thing you want nobody to know. Not only is this the hook line of my favourite song Wilder Mind by Mumford & Sons, it’s also an affirmation of how high I will soar and how wide I will spread my wings.

What is your personal motto or mission statement?

My mission statement continues to be “I am love.” At Brown Girl Guilt, we like to say that “love is the transmutable energy that liberates us all” and it really is. When I embody love and show up as love, life becomes a breeze.

Illus + Text - Green
Besides your work, what are you passionate about?

First and foremost, I’m incredibly passionate about love in all its forms and expressions. I spend a great deal of time reading about love, whether it’s “All About Love” by bell hooks or “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm. I love love because it’s a kind of universal energy that we all understand. I also love love because I think it’s one of the most powerful emotions available to us as humans, yet it’s also one of the most misunderstood emotions by us as humans.

Where can one find you on your days off?

My favourite thing to do during my time off is to go for a walk by myself with a cup of coffee in my hand. I love roaming local bookstores, the beach, a forest, and home decor stores the most.

How do you balance work, life, family?

Fierce boundaries, the acceptance of flow, and most recently a calendarized approach to life based on a new productivity course I had the privilege of taking part in!

Stay connected with Harpo

Instagram: @browngirlguilt_
Twitter: @harpokm
Linkedin: Harpo Mander