The Indian SCENE publisher Lipsa Sheth shares why she launched a publication to share stories of people in her community.
By Taylor Morris
Photography by Allison Farrand
With no journalism experience, Lipsa Sheth took a leap of faith by launching a new Detroit-based publication, The Indian SCENE. As an active member in the Metro Detroit Indian community, she noticed something was missing: a platform to share the stories of people in her community.
“What I had was an idea, and this was something that was brewing for a good five years,” says Sheth, founder and publisher of The Indian SCENE. “To me, it’s all about timing…and the time was right about a year ago.”
Indian SCENE is a digital publication dedicated to telling the stories of Indian American life in and around Metro Detroit. In partnership with Renaissance Media Solutions, theindianscene.com launched in early February and covers health, culture, parenting, style, youth and more.
Sheth moved from India to the United States at age 7. She grew up in New Jersey with her family and moved to Michigan in 1998. Before that, she spent most of her career working in the finance division for media companies, such as CBS and Lifetime, in New York City. Fast-forward to today, and Sheth, 45, lives in Bloomfield Hills with her husband and three daughters ages 12, 16 and 18.
Sheth has no publishing experience — but that didn’t stop her. She says she believed an Indian publication was needed not only in the Detroit Indian community, but the community as a whole..“It’s been a learning curve,” she says of launching a media outlet, “but…it’s been a wonderful journey.”
According to Sheth, the Indian community has over 100,000 members in Metro Detroit and is expected to keep growing. She says many young families are choosing to move back to Detroit since the city is now an attractive place to live and work.
Indian SCENE editor-in-chief Maitreyi Anantharaman, a University of Michigan senior, says editing the new publication has been the best kind of challenge. In the beginning, Anantharaman says she was concerned people wouldn’t open up about their private lives, and share their stories, but that wasn’t the case.
“I was pretty pleasantly surprised by the community’s response to what we’re doing,” she says. “We’ve had some really positive, heartening feedback. My favorite reaction, which I’ve heard from people of all ages, is gratitude for what The Indian SCENE is doing to start conversation and open up that forum.”
Some of her favorite stories have been on Neehee’s, a popular Indian restaurant in Troy and Canton, as well as profiles on elders in the Indian community. “Some of the stories we’re working on are about people, events or institutions that I had been vaguely familiar with for years without knowing just how rich and interesting the full story was,” says Anantharaman, who’s from West Bloomfield.
She adds the publication wants to increase dialogue among the greater Indian American community.
“Many of the stories we’re hoping to cover in the future, like attitudes toward same-sex marriage or the immigrant women unable to work on spouse visas, are the kinds of conversations that Indian Americans, and even non-Indians, are having across the country,” she says.
Jack Sandhu, 49, of West Bloomfield is an avid Indian SCENE reader and has known Sheth awhile. Sandhu agrees the publication is something the community needed and says it’s the perfect platform to spread awareness about Indian culture and help combat stereotypes.
“The more you can educate and create awareness of the melting pot that we have in America,” he says, “I think it’s beautiful.”