Raj is also an international best-selling author, having contributed to the #1 international best-selling book, ‘365 Empowering Stories’.
British-born and of Indian heritage, she is the second eldest of 5 siblings and has lived across 3 continents in places like England, India, Wales, Canada, and the United States (in that order), and currently resides in Toronto, Canada as a first generation South Asian. An arranged marriage brought her to Canada and although it didn’t last, her friendship with her ex-husband did and she is forever grateful for that. The marriage gave her, her only (human) child (a son) and the move to Canada gave her the opportunity to forge her own destiny in a career that she could have never dreamt of if she hadn’t lived it firsthand.
As a single, working mother, she has successfully juggled the work-life balance having raised her 22-year-old son Karam and 2-year-old dog son Maximus, as well as having founded and developed two multi-tiered niche brands – ANOKHI® LIFE and OPEN CHEST® (both est. 2002). Their combined client base is in excess of 4,900 corporations, businesses, experts, and well-known personalities. Together, their social media network is upwards of 1.2 million members, with 120,000 email subscribers.
In 2017, as a response to many years of solicitation from the corporate and entrepreneur sectors for assistance in mass communications and marketing for niche communities, Raj launched a one-on-one coaching and consulting service under her personal brand. After reaching capacity in 2019, she decided to launch her third brand, THE OPEN CHEST® CONFIDENCE ACADEMY (est. 2020), to address the call to scale. The Academy is committed to providing academic and skill based learning, coaching, and consulting products and services, to clients in all geographies and price points, thus allowing accessibility to her extensive knowledge, expertise, and resources, which were previously only available to a select few.
Raj’s 35 year career on both sides of the entrepreneurial space (employee and employer), has seen her work in the hospitality, dental, media / events, and coaching / consulting industries.
She started as a waitress in her family’s United Kingdom based restaurant in 1985 at the age of 15, where she was groomed to management level by the time she reached 20 in 1990, at which time she was responsible for a team of 8 personnel each time her parents went on sabbatical and left her in charge.
From 1992 to 2002, Raj was married to a Mississauga based dentist (arranged by her parents), which brought her to Canada. During these years, her focus was in working with her husband to build his practice. Five weeks after the birth of their child, she moved with her son to New York State for two years to train as a registered dental hygienist (earning an Associate’s Degree with honours and distinction), after which she went on to work with her husband to build a successful dental practice at the Home of Dentistry. In addition to working as a dental hygienist for 10 years, she has been responsible for the practice’s branding, marketing, hiring, team building, and corporate culture until the present day and the practice has gone on to become one of the most successful dental offices in the region.
The combination of time apart (while Raj was in NYS), the role of parent (being new for both of them), and a fledgling business (pressure of the build), all took a toll on the marriage, which ended in divorce in 2002. Having always been someone’s daughter, sister, wife, and mother all her life, Raj sought to find herself. A chance meeting with a media executive opened her up to the exciting world of media and she went on to found the ANOKHI® multimedia brand shortly thereafter.
Raj built ANOKHI® around the idea of serving content experiences to the North American, South Asian diaspora, predominantly the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generations. When asked why, she said that it was because she believed in working in arenas that she was well versed in, and what better environment than one that she grew up struggling with identity issues in, before combatting (most) of her demons?
Raj wanted to create a multi-platform community to help others like he rise above their limitations by collectively joining, participating in, and being inspired by a like-minded community of misfits (people who didn’t exclusively fit in their traditional or social environments, but rather, in a newly defined identity that was made up of both). The goal was to raise a strongly identifiable community that would become a powerful, visible minority in the larger North America space, which it went on to become. There isn’t an industry in the world today, that doesn’t have top tier participation from the South Asian community, and ANOKH® is widely considered to be one of the pioneers in creating visibility and opportunity for the South Asian community’s mainstream identity.
ANOKHI® is a highly-targeted, multimedia, multi-platform brand, that has developed and incorporates media, events, e-marketing, and social communities to target the South Asian community in North America, both from a B2B and B2C perspective. Within this arena, Raj and her team have spear-headed many successful campaigns that have brought together A-list celebrities / though leaders / influencers / experts, multinational and national corporations, mainstream and niche media, and many communities, in unique, interactive, collaborative ways that have included the participation of its various sub-brands:
Since 2002, the brand has gone through 4 micro-pivots, from ANOKHI ‘Vibe’ (print urban magazine), to ‘Magazine’ (print lifestyle magazine), to ‘Media’ (print & online lifestyle magazine, events, social media), and now to ‘Life’ (multi-platform, multimedia community).
During this time, the brand’s most successful project (to date) has been the visibility of the 14th annual awards show (took place in August 2016), where combined marketing and PR strategies brought in over 3.4 billion documented media impressions from around the world.
ANOKHI® is known for having given Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian their first South Asian magazine covers and Priyanka Chopra and Freida Pinto their first North American magazine covers. Fortune 500 companies like L’Oréal Paris and Diageo have extensively sponsored its awards shows, and media outlets from around the world have covered and telecast them.
After spending fifteen years in the media and events space, in 2017 Raj began to say “yes” to executives and entrepreneurs who had been soliciting her for the better part of a decade, to coach them in media, public speaking, and personal branding, as well as to consult with her in niche corporate branding, marketing, and sales.
After quickly reaching capacity by the end of 2019, she realized that in order to serve everyone who needed it, she would need to create a scalable model that would allow access to everyone wherever they may be. As a result, at the beginning of 2020, Raj put together a team of experts to help her develop and launch an online coaching and consulting academy called THE OPEN CHEST® CONFIDENCE ACADEMY at www.TheOpenChestConfidenceAcademy.com. This is being rolled out in stages throughout 2020 and 2021, and consists of two main categories:
Raj is a compassionate supporter of many causes and has advocated for numerous charities throughout her 30 years as an entrepreneur. She owes this characteristic to her upbringing within the Sikh faith, where charity and giveback are considered the cornerstones of being a good human.
Her three brands are mandated to donate 10% of all profits to needy causes that Raj believes in, through THE OPEN CHEST® CONFIDENCE FOUNDATION. If you feel your cause, charity, or initiative should be considered for a donation, please contact us HERE
|2019:||Authored a chapter in #1 Best-Selling Book called, “365 Empowering Stories”, entitled: “Uncomfortable on Purpose”, Toronto, ON|
|2019:||Inclusion in an Intention Deck of Cards, Featuring Inspiring and Empowered Women, Toronto, ON|
|2016:||Winner of The 14th International Women’s Day Achiever Award Presented by PCHS, Toronto, ON|
|2015:||Winner of The Inspirational Achiever Award Presented by Roshni Media, New York, NY|
|2015:||Featured in a collectible book celebrating South Asian achievers, ‘Roshni: Global & Emerging Leaders’, New York, NY|
|2013:||Winner of the ICCC Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award Presented by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, Toronto, ON|
|2013:||United Way Peel International Women’s Day Gala Honorary Chair, Toronto, ON|
|2012:||Featured in a collectible book celebrating North America’s most prominent South Asians, ‘Roshni: The Light Of South Asia‘, New York, NY|
|2009-10:||NetIP NA’s 18th Annual Conference Marketing Chair, Toronto, ON|
|2008:||Named as one of Toronto’s South Asians to watch out for by the National Post newspaper, Toronto, ON|
|2005:||Voted SAMA South Asian Lifestyle Magazine of the Year Award for ANOKHI Magazine, New York, NY|
|2005:||Named amongst Desiclub’s 50 Coolest South Asians in the World List, New York, NY|
|2004:||Winner of the SASA Outstanding Achievement in Journalism Award, Houston, TX|
|1999:||Winner of the Warner Lambert Professional Hygiene Award, Rochester, NY|