In Conversation with Disha Mazepa about Creativity and Empowerment


We love your podcast - But What Will People Say (#BWWPS)! Can you tell us about how and why you started it?

Like most podcast hosts, I was a podcast junkie who listened to so many podcasts she started to think she could start one too. But really, I was tired of feeling alone and I had recently discovered and joined a FB group called SAWIR (South Asian women in interracial relationships) and for the first time ever I felt like I wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t the only one feeling frustrated or guilty or like a disappointment. I wasn’t the only person who doesn’t always know how to explain her culture to her partner or navigate two religions or just different ideas of being “American”.  By the time I joined it I was already married, so I had passed “the hard part” of telling my family about Mike. But I also realized there is SO MUCH MORE to it than that. So I figured why not start sharing these stories because clearly I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, and podcasts felt like the easiest way to do it. They’re long form, easily accessible, and gave guests space to speak freely without being scripted or timed. It gave space for nuance and all that “grey area” that gets glossed over in the typical “girl meets boy, girl can’t tell parents, parents eventually find out, wedding, the end”.  The podcast aims to answer some of those other questions, like how to raise bi-racial kids, talk about culture,  political differences, understanding finances, and making space to be American etc. Which has led to the show being not just about relationships, but really lifestyles of young South Asians from immigrant families.

Talk to us about your creative journey. What pushed you to pursue it?

Being creative is just a part of who I am. I live for art supplies and making a mess. I think for a long time I was living on the path my parents wanted for me, I was an excellent student with good grades and a Master’s degree and a decent job. But it wasn’t until I left home and started living life on my terms and pretty organically filled it with creative pursuits every minute I wasn’t working. From cooking and baking to painting and podcasting. When COVID hit, I finally had a chance to pause and look at my life and ask myself what I wanted and realized that when I lost my job, instead of being upset I was relieved. I was burnt out, exhausted from 60 hour weeks, and my mental health was non-existent. And when I paused to reflect, I realized I had been doing art/creative things my whole life. It might have been the only constant in a life filled with moving and new schools and rocky relationships with my parents. I was fortunate enough not to need to jump into another job, so I took a few months to just pause and do what made me happy, which sadly enough I wasn’t even sure how to do for the first few weeks. Eventually, I figured it out.

You are now an entrepreneur yourself and have your own Etsy shop! Tell us about it.

As for the entrepreneurial side of it, I’m really just starting out. Being a child of immigrants meant starting a business never felt like a reasonable option. Starting a business was for wealthy people who could afford to take risks. I was always taught to take the safe, predictable route. So I started small, first with my LLC, I needed to work in healthcare. Then with a little at home baking business, and then my Etsy shop. I realized that the only reason I’m good at saving money is because every time I go out and see something I like, my brain immediately thinks, “I can make that myself” or “I can figure out how to do that”. Figuring things out is what I do best, it’s where my creativity meets my inner entrepreneur. I also have a hard time working for other people. I don’t have a totally clear vision of where I want any of the things I do to go, but for now I’m just putting one foot in front of the other. 

Why do you think it's important to empower each other in our community?

Honestly, I just think people need to have more faith in themselves and their own abilities. We live in a world where it’s so easy to feel alone and isolated and like it’s just you. But the reality is you never are, you just have to find your people. The podcast aims to make people feel heard and to be heard ultimately means to be empowered. And knowing that you have what it takes to change your life and create the life that you want all right inside you has to be the most liberating feeling and I hope BWWPS can remind people of that. To stop sitting on the sidelines and waiting for life to happen or your circumstances to change and to start becoming an active participant in their own lives. So many South Asian women especially are raised in a world that makes decisions for them and I just want them to start acting like the main character in the story of their lives and not like the supporting actors.  

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