Bhavna Kanakia

Moms to Know: Bhavna Kanakia

Just as the lotus emerges from muddy waters to bloom into a beautiful flower, the story of Bhavna Kanakia is one of growth and transcendence. Rather than remaining in her birth country of India, among the familiar ceremonies that honor the cultural symbolism of the lotus, she resolved instead to expand an offering of superb craftsmanship across the globe to Tampa, Florida.

Believing in a life where her two daughters would know limitless possibilities for their dreams, Bhavna herself found herself living in one of her own. Now, with a new blossoming venture  (branded with the lotus) and an established headband line found in boutiques and spas in the Bay, Bhavna’s story in Tampa grows more beautiful every day.

Please share the story of how you became a business owner in the fashion accessory space in Tampa Bay.

Bhavna Kanakia: In 2020, I moved during the pandemic with my family to the United States. I had already launched Missy headbands in India and saw that I could expand in Tampa. I met Didi Zudar at Dillard’s at International Mall. Didi offered me several opportunities to set up Missy pop-up shops, and since then, there has been no looking back.

I met Julie Tingley at one of Dillard’s events also, and she connected me with women like Danielle of Don Me Now, who gave me a platform for the Gasparilla collection. Today, I have become a Tampa girl who loves learning the Tampa culture and designing for southern women’s style.

I moved into making unique jewelry pieces that were different from those that I would see in stores and boutiques based in America. I decided to create jewelry that evoked emotion, featuring nature, tropical greenery, and even palm trees. Additionally, it was important to me that every piece would be lightweight and comfortable—making them easy to wear.

How is the new Bhavna Kanakia brand different from what you have done in the past as a designer and entrepreneur?

Bhavna Kanakia: I have always followed my instincts from the start. MISSY is the brand I started back in India to dress up my girls every morning. I had to make the headbands stylish, fun, and very comfortable for them to wear. I began moving on to jewelry which has been my love since childhood. I would begin with a statement piece to accessorize my set, so making a statement headband with a coordinated earring and a statement necklace comes to me easily.

Not formally trained in jewelry, it was not easy to enter the jewelry business, but with my risk-taking skills and my husband’s support and belief in me, I elevated my business from an entrepreneur to a designer. Next, I wish to deep dive into fashion and keep growing.

From managing the home as a wife and mother of two girls to overseeing international operations of your multiple brands, how do you draw creative inspiration for your designs found in the new Bhavna Kanakia debut line?

Bhavna Kanakia: After becoming a mother to two girls, my ability to multitask since my childhood gave me the strong support to begin my journey into business. My day starts at 3:30 a.m. to give my creative mind a kick start, and this helps me manage the time difference between my business in India and America.

We are Indians and we love to eat, so I finish my cooking before my family wakes up. This way I can spend more time with them and also have time for my multiple businesses in India and the United States.

Of course, I love looking at the latest trends, but at the same time, creativity has no boundaries. I draw inspiration from things in nature, which I feel blessed that my creative Indian inspiration helps me blend the Western culture and create my designs for Bhavna Kanakia.

It is not unusual to see your husband and daughters by your side at markets, trunk shows, pop-ups and even media appearances. How have they contributed to your success, and what has your business taught your children?

Bhavna Kanakia: The dream was mine, but my husband helped make it possible. We always tell each other we are going to walk together and hold hands in all of life’s ups and downs, not only having your back but also holding your hand and doing things together.

That’s the example we want to show our daughters. We love doing things as a family. Even designing has been fun with having my girls around, taking their ideas and implementing them. I hope it teaches them to believe in their own special power to pursue the dreams made possible by incorporating their cultural heritage in their adopted country where everything is possible.

How has life changed for you as a mother since moving to the United States?

Bhavna Kanakia: It has changed 180 degrees totally and I am loving everything about it. Back in India we had help for cooking/driving /cleaning—everything was in-house. I had never cooked in my life, but moving changes the perspective of doing daily errands as a family and enjoying every process, from cooking and making mistakes to creating recipe notes for my daughters.

I am learning the American way of preparing and understanding that everything is a process and it takes time, so I have developed patience as a mother.

Where can we shop the Bhavna Kanakia and Missy collections?

Bhavna Kanakia: Bhavna Kanakia is launching soon on The collection can also be found at the Rock Spa (in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino), hazel + dot in South Tampa and Safety Harbor Resort Spa. MISSY is available in the Rock Spa, hazel + dot, Butter Bug, Safety Harbor Spa, Great Giftsby in Dunedin and Wild Poppy in Westchase.

What can we expect next from Bhavna Kanakia herself?

Bhavna Kanakia: My signature collection! Bhavna Kanakia is a brainchild of Tampa. We want to grow the brand from a local entity to an international brand. We also want to do collaborations with chain stores, do trunk shows and local pop-ups at events like the Mommy & Me Tea and the Junior League Holiday Gift Market. Finally, I’d like to do a big fashion event with some big collaborators.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family in Tampa Bay?

Bhavna Kanakia: I love the water, and God has given me what I asked for. I am surrounded by water, and our favorite thing is to go to Ballast Point to sit and watch the sunrise after dropping the girls off at school. My husband and I also like to take them to enjoy the beach.

Originally published in the May 2024 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.