Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya

In the heart of New York City, amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life, there exists a quiet force of creativity and empowerment: Manasi Arya. By day, she’s an art teacher at an elementary school, nurturing young minds and fostering creativity. But beyond the classroom walls, Arya is also a talented artist in her own right, using her work to champion causes close to her heart – from celebrating the strength of women to embracing her South Asian heritage and the experiences of people of color.

Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya
Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya

TINDS: Tell us a little about your childhood. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

Manasi: I was born in Bangalore, India, and then shortly after that we moved to the US and I grew up in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago land area and I just kind of stayed in Indiana for a while. I went to grad school there and then I became a teacher after I graduated college. Two years after that, I moved to New York and am still living here still.

TINDS: How old were you when you moved to the states?

Manasi: I was less than a year old when we moved.

TINDS: Do you visit India often?

Manasi: I love visiting India. My grandparents still live there so I try to do this thing where I attempt to go every summer and visit them. I went last summer by myself and I got to be with them for two weeks and that was really nice and then the year before that I visited with my family. And then Covid happened before that and everything was shut for almost two years straight.

TINDS: What three words would you choose to describe yourself?

Manasi: Hardworking, Creative & Passionate.

Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya
Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya

TINDS: How did you get interested in art? Tell us a little about the start.

Manasi: My mom is an artist and we would do a bunch of art together growing up. When we moved to America, initially it was really difficult for her to find a job. So she poured a lot of her love and time into art and my dad was always really supportive of that. My mother would go to different places to attend art classes and learn all these different mediums which she would later teach me a lot of. We practiced drawing and painting and things like that. She got me really into it and then I kind of paused for a while. I didn’t really do art or anything related to it much in college or high school and then after college I felt like I needed to do something with my mental health and passion and kind of create something that would make me more excited every day. So I started painting and I started doing art again and then posting it on social media and it kind of just all came together.

TINDS: How did you think of transforming your passion into a business?

Manasi: Monetizing is really difficult and I think it took me a little longer than it should have to do that. Initially when I started posting people would often reach out to me saying that they were interested in buying stuff that I was posting. None of it made sense to me but because it was during Covid, I started taking it a little bit more seriously because I had the time and everything was on pause. Everyone was on social media and everyone started their businesses which were booming. It was just kind of for fun. It was more to make sure all of my orders and everything were organized and then in March of 2021 March, I made a Shopify website and I think that’s when I made my business more serious and legit and I think that’s basically when I started.

TINDS: Where do you get the production done from?

Manasi: Everything is Drop Shipping. I just don’t have the ability to do it myself and I don’t have to worry about much regarding the logistical hassles. I work a full-time job. I would love to be able to handle all the production myself, but I can’t, so drop shipping is rather a very easy, affordable and convenient solution.

TINDS: Do you only get responses from South Asian people in your store or do people from the west respond as well? 

Manasi: I actually do get a lot more. I think people of color come to me because a lot of my art is on colorism and even women empowerment, but I do get some white people who like some of my art and they ask me if it’s okay for them to buy and I’m like, of course. Especially women empowerment designs get more responses because that’s for the general women, but mostly South Asians for sure.

Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya
Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya

TINDS: How was your experience like working with the New York Fashion Week?

Manasi:  It was the most incredible experience. I had no idea it was happening. I think the designer wanted non traditional models to do it and then literally two days before the show she messaged me to show up at a given place and time which I did. I didn’t know what exactly I was even applying for at that time. It turned out it was literally New York Fashion Week! It was one of the main shows she got accepted as a South Asian designer to be in the show and it was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. I was wearing six inch heels, I usually always have my hair curly and they straightened it sticks straight. So I felt like a very different person. I felt like I was living this out of body experience and it was just phenomenal.

TINDS: What would you be if not an artist?

Manasi:  I feel like this is what I wanted to be growing up. I wanted to be an artist when I was little and it was never an option and now I am and I love being a teacher too. And so I feel like I got exactly the two jobs that I wanted and I feel like it’s going really well.

TINDS: what would you say has been your biggest achievements so far?

Manasi: Having Business Insider and also BBC News write about me and being that kind of representation for little kids feels amazing. Getting to believe that you could be an artist and you don’t have to have that traditional path, I think it’s just really cool to be that kind of representation. So I think that’s my biggest achievement so far.

TINDS: What are your future plans for the business?

Manasi: I think I’m working on that a lot. It’s really hard because what I was last year is not what I am now. My plans are always going to change but I would really love to be able to continue what I’m doing now, work with other brands with art continuing that representation. Also maybe eventually having some sort of business where I teach paint classes to people where they come up with designs that are not just t-shirts and sweatshirts, but maybe some kind of Indo Western everyday clothing which would be really awesome to do so.

Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya
Empowerment Through Art: The Inspiring Journey of Manasi Arya

TINDS: What would be your advice to you young artists?

Manasi: To always practice your craft. Do it every other day and always practice and learn different mediums and never give up.


Find Her

Instagram: manasi arya (@manasiarya) • Instagram photos and videos

TikTok: Manasi Arya (@artwithmanasi) | TikTok

Shop: Art With Manasi


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