This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Today’s interview is with Batani Khalfani, who was recommended by Crystal Chin (who I interviewed last year). Batani is a creative powerhouse, from fashion design to dancing, acting and writing. She also has a great positive outlook and is an inspiration for any multi-passionate women out there.
Let's dig in!
At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?
I was born to be who I am in all aspects. All of my talents are innate. I am self-taught in all that I do artistically. I am a self-taught designer, dancer, artist. When I was 4 years old I was asked what I "wanted" to be when I grew up. I said, "I'm going to be an architect, fashion designer, actor, model and dancer." I am all of those things and soon I will be going to school for architecture.
What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?
I don't look at anything as a struggle, I look at things as a learning process. I really just do what I feel in my mind, I do what compels me always if it's in a positive direction. Sometimes I move too quickly and miss a few steps and then I have to go back. I've done that a lot. Right now I am making sure I take care of all of the essential steps in order to have a better outcome. But when I finally get it right it is RIGHT!
Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?
While owning my own business I make sure I do what I want. If I want to hang out with my friends and family I do that. I make sure I put myself around people, especially family, where I can give and receive unconditionally that helps me day by day. Sometimes I get so busy though that I forget to eat, hence me being so thin...I am making a better effort to eat all throughout the day to maintain my health and energy. I love to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. I love spinach and kale, and I love all fruits.
Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?
Ha! I am so hard on myself and honest with myself that I don't care what anyone thinks. Seriously. I talk to myself all throughout the day, but I have fun with myself in making sure I'm doing what I feel is best for me and my path. I am my biggest critic. So any type of rejection is nothing to me. I have the thickest skin of anyone I know.
When I was younger people used to laugh and talk about my forehead and how skinny I was, and I laughed right with them because the jokes they said were funny. Nothing anyone says can affect me, the only thing that can affect me is if someone does something to me physically then they have a problem, not me.
What do you do when you're having an off day- maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?
When I'm having on off day, I usually just sleep to rest my mind. Sleeping is fun sometimes because it renews. People are like, "Team no sleep" I'm like, "Yeah whatever."
Sometimes I will go to the beach and look at the water and let it run over my feet. I find that very cleansing. Maybe sometimes I will go to the park. I like to unify with nature if I'm feeling a little off balance.
What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?
One misconception that people have about me is that I only design, when in fact I'm very well rounded. Not only do I design but I dance, I act, I write, I paint and sketch. I know Spanish, I am learning Japanese and I know a little bit of Korean. I can talk about anything from foreign policy to indigenous cultures. I like to learn so any chance I get to learn, I'm always on it.
In my upcoming projects I get to show my mind, my thought process and my views of the world and all of what I can do. I'm excited.
I understand, though, why people may have misconceptions about me because most of the time I'm very quiet, I just like to observe things around me. I don't go along with the crowd, I'm always standing out of it watching all that's around me and I've come to find out that sometimes that makes people uncomfortable because people are taught that they have to do things to fit in. I never wanted to fit in because I am not designed to fit in. So people have their thoughts...and I let them have them.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
One of the biggest lessons I've learned is to do the art for the art and not for the money.
The money will come. Just dedicate yourself to your craft and the rest will follow. I recently just learned that, and I'm glad I learned it at this point because the experiences leading up to it are invaluable.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?
Well no one really follows anybody else path unless they're a copycat, but anyone who wants to do anything in life, the most valuable advice I can give is to just do it.
A person should do what they want and what they feel to achieve the success they desire and not let anyone dissuade them.
Since I was a child I've never let anyone tell me I shouldn't do something because I've always known what I wanted in my mind and have always had a very clear vision of my future.
When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?
I feel most like myself every single day of my life. If I'm having an off-day or a very fulfilled day I know each step is a part of my process. I am grateful that I have a keen sense of awareness which allows me to be very introspective and check myself if I'm not elevated towards my higher self.
Sometimes, not that often, I let myself vibrate on lower frequency just to get the experience out but I immediately check myself and go back up. I really enjoy myself and love myself so that love keeps me on high feeling like myself all of the time.
What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?
Anything that has substance, that has a soul, life, character, gets my attention. In a world where most things are mundane and lack substance, the things and people that are true to their core catch my attention.
One of the people in my life who inspire me though is my dad. He has great character and integrity that he's had all of his life and he has never wavered and is very well respected. He gives me something to aspire to. Its also great to know that I have a lot of his attributes.
My mom also inspires me because as I get older I see how wise she is and her thoughtfulness in the decisions that she made towards her children. She always bought paint and sketch books for me. She bought me my first sewing machine when I was 15, and I didn't even ask for one. Her dedication to people outside of herself inspires me.
Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.
My favorite moment in my career so far has been all of the moments leading up to this point and my future moments. I really am grateful for this process. I enjoy it all. Like I said I love to learn and each day I am learning and going higher and right now at this point in my life I am excited because of what's coming.
What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?
The most exciting thing in my life right now is that I am living and experiencing. I am having fun and doing what I want. I'm meeting new people everyday and having fun with the people I've known for years. I'm seeing people get wiser, I'm seeing some regress lol.
I am seeing more people wake up to who they really are and right now in my life I am becoming who I will ultimately become. I can't wait to meet myself 6 months from now, a year from now, 5 years from now, 10. This is all exciting to me.
When I am older and ascend to my next life, I will just smile because I know that I will have lived my life the way I wanted to live it and not how anyone else wanted me to live it, and that excites me.
I am self-taught artist. I am in love with my family and in love with great things. I design, I paint, I act, I dance and I write. In the near future I will release a book about my life which is way too interesting and I am releasing a documentary about my father who is a very influential figure in South Central Los Angeles. I am working on several projects in the film arena.
I have a blog called Agent of Fashion which you will see more of as well as my YOUTUBE channel under the same name. I am working a non-profit for children. My couture line, which the new collections haven't been released yet, is www.batanikhalfani.com. My couture line is where my creativity and the different levels of it can be seen.