At Home With Mikhara Ramsing
Posted in: At Home With


Equality is something Mikhara Ramsing has strived for her entire life. Whether it’s gender, cultural or sexual orientation; Mikhara has experienced inequality in all its forms, and witnessed its cascading effect on those around her.  

We had the privilege of visiting Mikhara in her home to hear her story and learn more about the work she does to empower those around her. The founder of two social enterprises, Mik’s Chai and Ethnic+, Mikhara’s liberating work is shaping the future of human rights, globally.  


Abbotson linen shopper bag in flax


Born in South Africa, with Indian heritage; Mikhara comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Inspired by her Grandfather’s ability to change lives through his social enterprises, Mikhara set off down a similar path, embracing the idea of using business for good. Mikhara moved to Australia with her family at 14, and it was during these early experiences in Australia that she began to realise her own identity. However, not without obstacles arising along the way.

"My family and I immigrated to Australia when I was 14 and we moved to the country town of Albury Wodonga, which was an incredible place to learn about Australia, but quite a culture shock coming from a big thriving city. At the same time I was navigating middle school and high school, I also started to understand my own identity and realised that I actually identified as a queer woman.

I’d actually never met another gay Indian woman. So, for a long time, this duality existed in my head that I thought I could either be Indian, or I could be gay. It was a really powerful narrative to have as a 17-year-old, because it really made me question so many aspects of my identity. I felt really lost."



Mikahara found stability in her education, capitalising on her opportunities to learn and develop the skills that would shape her future career.

"I finished high school and I was lucky enough to get into a Double Degree of Law and Economics, and I completed my Honours in Social Entrepreneurship. I was also part of a group who organised Queensland’s first social enterprise conference.This word social enterprise kept popping up in my life. 

I finally finished uni after 7 years and landed a job at Deloitte doing economics in Sydney. I purposely chose to move to Sydney because I needed representation. I moved to Newtown where I had diversity all around me, it started to become normalised."

Mikhara had spent the decade prior working alongside her family to shape her identity. After writing a letter to her parents, she reached a turning point in her relationship with them, which ignited the spark that would kick-start her journey as an entrepreneur. 

"My parents said, look, we don’t want to lose you, we accept you. It was such a huge shift in where I was and it gave me a lot of courage. I thought, ok if I can hold my parents hands and we can come to this point, what is stopping me then from starting a social enterprise? If I can conquer these fears, let’s take the leap. So, I only spent 10 months at Deloitte. Although the team was great and the projects were amazing, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a social entrepreneur. So in 2017, I quit my job."



Seeking a quieter lifestyle, Mikhara moved with her fiance, Elise, to Byron Bay. It was here that Mikhara’s ideas had a chance to breathe and come to fruition. 

"If you’re a Byron Bay local, everyone is happy to talk to you and I really flourished in that environment because I had to now gain the confidence to start my own business. 

I knew I loved working with young people. What I found with 15 and 16-year-olds was that it was such a turning point in their lives where if you gave them a bit of inspiration, a bit of role modelling and a bit of belief, it could make or break them. I thought, I really want to work with this age group, let me start writing programs for them. So, I started writing these workshops, which covered very basic things like how to write a resume and how to sit a job interview, to how to make people sit up and listen. 

What I found out very quickly was that, although I was living in Byron Bay, it was actually one of the lowest growing regions in Australia. A lot of the kids there in primary schools couldn’t afford $5. I spoke to principles of these high schools who would take kids home for dinner because there was no food on the table. This is in the Byron Bay region. You would think it’s such a prosperous region. 

This is where this idea of selling chai was born."



 For Mikhara, the chai business was more than a means to fund these educational workshops. The message interwoven into Mikhara’s business made her chai a lot stronger than your average cup of tea. 

"When I reflected on any huge milestones in my life, whether it be with friendships, break ups or new relationships; there always seemed to be a cup of tea. To me it conoted a safe place where real conversation could happen. I thought, ok it’s stuff I know how to make and I make it well. Let me start selling tea at markets. So that’s what I started to do. I started to source ingredients from the locale, make this chai and sell it where I could. I’d then use the profits to fund access to these skilled workshops for young people."

As the chai business grew, Mikhara extended her focus to migrant women. She joined forces with non-for-profit, Global Sisters, and she began writing entrepreneurial workshops tailored to migrant women. 

"I got to work with migrant women all over Australia and write these programs of entrepreneurial skills in a language that they could understand, with case studies they could see themselves in. It’s awesome because mission Australia has now taken that over. So that’s a program that I can feel really happy about. I love my chai business and I make really good chai! But building on that, the chai is about creating a space where we can have a cup of tea and talk about real stuff. Because I know from my lived experiences, literally working with thousands of young people now, the biggest reason they think about committing suicide is because they feel alone. They just feel like nobody gets it, and that’s common. Every 15 and 16-year-old I've spoken to all over the world just wants to be heard. I want the chai to be recognisable and for someone buying it to know that it forms a space for stories to be heard. At the heart of everything I do, is this belief that stories save lives. And that’s the messaging that’s most important to me."



I wanted them to know they weren’t alone. I see you, I hear you. 



The reTHREAD tea towel, crafted with 100% recycled materials.  


Mikhara’s fight for equality didn’t stop at her chai business. She didn’t lose touch with the struggles she faced as a teenager herself, and retained the desire to use her experiences as a tool to guide others.

"I’d been on this journey with my parents and I’d come out of this really healthy place. I knew there were a lot of people like me, especially young women of colour who would feel they’d have to choose between their sexual identity and their cultural identity because of lack of representation. I wanted them to see my story and I wanted them to know they weren’t alone. I see you, I hear you. I decided to put it out there to the world, so I started to blog about my story and the letter that I wrote to my parents.

When I was coming out there weren't resources that were culturally specific to me. It disregarded the rich, sexual history of Indian culture that I didn’t even know was there. So, I sat down and learned how to build a wordpress site to put my story out there. Then I started to talk to other LGBTQI organisations, because I realised, a large part of why I didn’t go to their events was because I was often the only person of colour in the room. Again, that reinforced the notion that - ok, you can either be Indian or you can be gay, there’s no both. You don’t belong. Research backs that up, when you don’t see yourself in messages, you don’t matter.  

Ethnic+ now stands as a platform for those who identify as LGBTQI and allies. It houses stories of both troubles and triumphs, and some can now be found in the state’s archives. This means, for the first time, LGBTQI stories are published in Queensland's history. 



Mikhara remains humble in her achievements and this transcends through to her lifestyle at home. Mikhara and Elise live in a ‘tiny home’ in Brisbane’s West, which they impressively built themselves with only $25,000.

"We always wanted to have this lifestyle where we can put going on the road, nature, family and friends first. That was a large part of why I chose to run my own business and it was the same with building a house. We didn’t want to buy into a mortgage at this stage. We didn’t want to get caught up in this idea that we needed to get full time jobs, buy a house and have a family.

So, we built this beautiful 9x2 metre home that’s fully functional with running water, electricity and compost. I love it because it’s so intimate. A lot of my friends thought I was giving up luxury, but to be honest, this is the most luxurious home I’ve ever lived in compared to anything I’ve rented in Sydney or Brisbane. 




 From top: Eden Organic Cotton towel with Lyocell in ink and white, Lyssan organic cotton quilt cover collection, Organic Cotton Percale sheet set in dove & Abbotson linen bed cover in tabac. 


There’s something really powerful about creating your own environment around you and being accountable for it. The thought behind it being a lifestyle movement that makes the notions of a career work around it. It’s all living, I don’t believe in this distinction between work and living. 

I figured out very early what success looks like for me, and it was freedom over my time. I know if I compromise on that, I’m not going to be happy. So I had to build a lifestyle around freedom over my time." 

We advise you to watch this space. Mikhara Ramsing is a force to be reckoned with. One that will continue to shake up old and outdated opinions, in order to establish a new and equal approach to life in Australia. Mikhara leaves us with some final words on equality.

"To all human beings in general, gender equality benefits everyone.

A big thing I realised on my journey, as a queer woman of colour, is that I would come up against barriers of gender inequality, racism and homophobia. Things that didn’t only hurt me, but also hurt my parents and my friends. Inequality hurts everyone. So by that virtue, equality benefits everyone. In particular I’d like to give a shout out to young women of colour, I want you to know that your stories are important and deserve as much space as anyone else’s. I really encourage you to share your stories, because it’s only through sharing our stories that we can create a more inclusive Australia."

Photography by Natalie McComas

Styling by NC Interiors



4 years ago