Monday, November 5, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Veteran Air Force wife Doreen Choudhry's successful jewellery brand

Hello everyone! I’m popping back in just to share another interesting interview in the #TheBrigadethatBuildsBrands series. We’ve recently moved to a small town base and between living out of a suitcase, getting ready to move into a house & getting used to new responsibilities, I’m grabbing a moment to hop onto my blog. Today, I’m sharing Doreen Chowfin Choudhry’s story. A veteran Air Force wife & jewellery designer, Mrs. Choudhry tells us about how she started a business at a time when entrepreneurship amongst ladies was almost unheard of in the defence services. I do hope her story spurs many of you to build your own brand & create meaningful work opportunities for yourself that you can cart along with your trunks as you move from one base to another.


 C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

D. As a child of five my father was posted at the JSW (later known as NDA), as the Record Officer, at Clement Town Dehradun. I guess I grew up influenced by the fauj!

Mrs. Choudhry at her wedding

My brothers too joined the Indian Navy and the IAF as pilots, and I got married to an Indian Air Force Pilot at the age of 24. In January we completed 50 years of marriage and that’s how long I’ve been a fauji wife. For the last 35 years or so I have lived in Delhi. 

C. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

D. It was 1982 an I was attending the annual AFFWA garden party hosted by the Air Chief’s wife, when to my surprise and mild embarrassment, I was handed a tray of pearl strings to show and sell that morning by none other than the hostess herself and of course there was no question of refusing!  Many of the ladies bought strings but wanted matching ear tops etc. This was the beginning of my journey of jewellery designing.

Mrs. Choudhry, 4th from the right, seated & in a check sari

When I was a child I used to have glass beads of different colours and textures and I used to make small necklaces with those. Later on when I got the opportunity at the Ladies Club, my hidden talent got a wake up call. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Air Force wife Anamika Sarkar's crafty business

Hello everyone! Welcome back to The Brigade that Builds Brands. Today, I'm chatting with Air Force wife & teacher-turned-crafter Anamika Sarkar. She left her well-established teaching job when her son was small and turned her hobby into her profession. Something that she could pack and take along on all their postings across India, Anamika has found immense joy in her handmade craft business. Here's how she's done it, and how anyone with a wisp of a dream + the gumption to work, can do it. I hope Anamika's story inspires you to take your dream by the horns and turn into work that you can juggle along with the bustling service life.


C. Please tell something about yourself- what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a Fauji wife?

A. I have been married to a fighter pilot since the last fourteen years. It was an arranged match, and since I came from a pure civilian background, I had no inkling of what I was getting into then. Till that point in my life, I knew very little about Fauj in general and the Air Force in particular. Fourteen years and seven postings later, here I am, a well-travelled Fauji wife presently based in Delhi, and slightly more knowledgeable, in how to set-up and decorate a government allotted accommodation, invite friends over, manage the household, and wind-up and move to another part of the country, and all this in a short span of two to three years. I have attained a Masters degree in Museology, and a Bachelors degree in Education. I love listening to music, reading, and a bit of a movie buff. Painting and Craft are my stress-busters. I have a son aged nine years, and he is in the fourth standard.




C.  What has been your business or creative journey been like; how and when did you start your venture?

A. I have always been into the teaching profession, but realized my actual passion towards the Creative Arts only a few years back. Though I have been interested in painting and creating hand-made objects since I was a child, but it was only a couple of years back when I had to quit my job from a renowned school in Pune, (as my son was very small) that I decided to take up Creative Art as a career. Today I work as a freelance artist and conduct workshops with various art forms.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Headlong Homeschooling – Our homeschooling (in India) journey so far

We never planned to homeschool N this year because he was already going to a happy little Montessori school. Yes, I’ve always liked the concept of home education, and have wondered if it will work for our family, but I never expected to take the plunge this year.

N creating a 3-D model of a butterfly's life cycle with clay
You see, as we waited for N’s lovely little Montessori school to open for the school year, my husband got his orders to travel for work. With a very long work trip looming ahead, we decided to travel as a family. That’s when I started teaching N at home, or rather, in our hotel room. With play dough clay and drawings of robots (his current favorites), stories and simple phonics lessons, with everyday material and a dash of fun, our makeshift homeschool took off happily.

When we returned back home, with the Montessori school unable to send transport to drop him back and us (we live very far from the school), on the brink of embarking on yet another work trip, going to school became near to impossible again. And so our homeschooling adventure has been a work in progress.

Now, we’re returning from our second work trip in a row. We don’t know if N’s school will be able to slot in a school van to drop him. We’re also expecting to move very soon, and are wondering if sending him to school for a few days before we move, makes sense or not.

We’re still wondering if we should send N to the neighborhood school wherever we are moving to or if we could continue homeschooling him. Even though we have several question marks sticking out of our homeschool plan, I’ve been mulling over the way that I want to teach N. The best part about being a homeschool parent is that you can borrow from a wide range of curriculums and teaching methods, take what you like and leave what you don’t find interesting.

N's version of an Igloo with the 3 of us inside - after we read about houses across the world
Continuing homeschooling: I have a loose curriculum that seems to fit in with the way N learns. It’s a slice of world education with beautiful books forming the bedrock of the “syllabus”. We plan to learn about this vast planet that we live on, the people who inhabit the world, the landscapes & animals in different parts and about children of this world. I strongly feel that in today’s time and age, raising global citizens, who can embrace the world culture, understand the issues that are plaguing the planet and have more tolerance for differences, is a must. The more our children can marvel at the beauty across the world and understand that people do not need to look/talk/behave the same way to be your friends, the more empowered they will be to create a warm and loving life for themselves and others. 

Simple sums with aliens, robots and clay balls
We’re also planning to continue our counting & simple addition + subtraction exercises through everyday material: playdough balls, rajma beans, coins, spoons and storybooks.

Natural science will be an important part of our “studies”. We study the life cycle of various insects, understand how clouds are formed, see how leaves are the kitchens of plants & trees, understand how seasons change. I’m not using any book for this, but letting the natural world around us + high-quality Youtube videos to guide us in our learning adventure.

Storybooks are ingrained in our homeschool and home life. We read lots of stories to N. I do believe that all this reading is helping encourage better vocabulary and letter recognition. We do a bit of phonics, and this is something I want to bump up a bit more.

Free play is a big part of our days
Nature study is also part of our homeschooling. It can be free flowing, with us moving around a garden, looking at the plants & insects there. Or, we go out on a mission, collecting all the different kinds of leaves in a space, and then go back home to draw a few of them, marvel at how different each of them are, and learn how leaves cook food for plants.

Art and craft is a major component of our days. N likes to do whatever I am doing, so it’s also a great way for me to re-ignite my love for all things arty-crafty. If I paint on a canvas, N also sits down with his own to create his painting. If I embroider, then N makes things out of the thread. If I make collages in my journal, N sticks Washi tape, stickers & ephemera in his scrapbook. We can spend hours making things with either music or audio stories playing in the background.

This is our current plan for our ‘headlong homeschooling’. I would like to add or tweak things as we go, see if this journey is nourishing for all of us.

Do you homeschool or are considering homeschooling?

 #homeschool #homeschoolindia #homeschoolinginindia #teachingchildren #prekhomeschool #homeschoolparent 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Army wife Gunjan Mishra's hand-crafted jewelry & accessory brand 'Pink Pitari'

Hello everyone! Welcome to another story from The Brigade that Builds Brands series – an ongoing interview feature that turns the spotlight on the #faujiwife / #militaryspouse entrepreneur, who crafts her own brand and makes it work through frequent postings, long stints of single parenting, several social commitments and unavoidable breaks that happen due to erratic internet or when you’re packing up or setting up house at a new base. Today we have Gunjan Mishra over at the blog - an Army wife, passionate crafter, mompreneur & the gal behind Pink Pitari - her handmade jewelry + accessory brand. We love the practicality and happiness with which Gunjan approaches this work + military life balance. Hope you find her words just as inspiring as I did.


 C. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife.

G. I am a stay at home mompreneur who turned her crafting hobby into a home business. I mainly create jewelry and accessories, though my work is not limited to jewelry making. I also bring in a lot of art and craft forms into my work because that’s just what I love to do, a variety of creative things. I love to express myself through writing on my personal blog. I began my ‘work from home’ journey through content writing which eventually gave way to full time crafting. Currently, I am based in Kanpur. I will complete 9 years of my being a fauji wife in December 2018.

C. What has your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your venture?

G. When I realized I could not do a steady job due to my husband’s frequent postings, I decided to pursue my hobbies instead. Initially, I was only pursuing the hobbies, but gradually I realized I had a strong desire to take it to the next level. Meanwhile, I was already blogging which led me to content writing. It kept me busy but my passion for crafts wouldn’t let me settle for content writing. However, I was still clueless about what it was that I actually wanted to do and how to do it. By pure chance, I discovered jewelry making. It really appealed to me, made me crazy in fact! Things eventually fell into place and Pink Pitari came into existence 2 years ago. From sourcing materials to dispatching orders, my work involves a lot of things which I do myself mostly and yet never felt like I am working, it keeps me so happy. I do it honestly and diligently and take a lot of pride in it.


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