Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Author, Recycling Artist & Army wife Reshma Kadvath on how she has created a home, lifestyle & creative career around her passion for upcycling

Hello friends! Today I'd like to welcome Reshma Kadvath to The Brigade that Builds Brands. An avid recycler + up cycler, author of two coffee table books on sustainability, and a creative blogger, this Army wife champions a cause very dear to my heart. A cause that many of us can weave into our lives now too, to not only nourish our creativity but to nurture the Earth. I "met" her on Instagram, and was instantly fascinated with how she creates jewellery, furniture and decor items out of old, broken objects that anybody else would probably discard without a backward glance. With the magic wand of her creativity, a broken doorknob turns into a candle stand, a woven hand fan into a coffee tray, hooks into a necklace, and much more. 


Army wife and recycling artist Reshma Kadvath wearing an up cycled necklace
Reshma Kadvath - Author, Upcycling Artist, Blogger & Army Wife

Let's dive into this chat and find out how she does what she does while moving from one small military base to another with her Army officer husband. (You are welcome to read about all our featured milpreneurs here.)

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife (and which service are/have been part of i.e Army/Air Force/Navy).
RK. Hi… I am Reshma Kadvath. Basically I am a Keralite, but after 22 years of marriage to an Army Officer, I can safely say that I have a bit of ‘all states of India’ in me. I am a self-proclaimed lover of everything Indian, and it reflects in my fashion sense and décor sensibilities. I am a nature lover and try to surround myself with plants and greenery wherever I go. Apart from this, I am also a writer. I have authored two coffee table books, primarily dealing with creativity and upcycling.

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your brand/business/creative career?
RK. The journey has been very fulfilling and satisfying. The creative roots can be traced back to my childhood, but the journey truly took flight, once I became an Army wife. My first born was diagnosed with clinical ADHD, so it became difficult for me to venture out much. That is when the décor bug bit me real hard. I started transforming my Fauji homes into the ultimate creative and inspirational sanctuaries. However, soon the pinch of a single earning member started curbing my creative instincts. That is when I started my creative journey, into the world of UPCYCLING (creative reuse of old and discarded objects). Although it initially started as a means to save money, once I became aware of its ‘POSITIVE IMPACT ON OUR ENVIRONMENT’, it has become my one true calling… my IKIGAI. Now my main aim is to spread awareness about this beautiful creative process and its many benefits on the environment, to one and all.

Reshma Kadvath with her coffee table book on recycled crafts
Reshma with one of her coffee table books

Reshma Kadvath's Fuji home with up cycled decor items and recycled furniture
Reshma's beautiful home decor - most of it created through up cycling and recycling
CB. Fauji wives make their home in an assortment of obscure places across the country. Our lives are about living in the moment and doing what we can, when we can. Can you share how you stayed creative or found work that satisfied you while moving across the country?
RK. I believe travel expands one’s creative horizons. You get inspired by the various cultures, traditions and rich art forms. Every state I get posted to gives me new raw materials (mostly from junkyards and flea markets) to work on and introduces me to local artisans, trained in different skills, who help give life to my ideas. It is a two way affair. I get to see my ideas fructify, and I with my creative imagination in turn help open their minds to infinite new possibilities of their craft/talent. Taking inspiration from all over the country, in addition to décor accents, I create upcycled jewelry, fashion accessories, utility items, furniture… you name it I upcycle it. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

How to Homeschool Regularly - 6 tried-and-tested tips from this homeschooling mom

Whether you’re #homeschooling for the long run or during the time that schools are closed during the lockdown, there are few things to keep an eye on if we’re setting up school at home on a regular basis.

homeschooling in India
Find your homeschooling "HAPPY"

While I’m no expert in this, I have been homeschooling my son for the last two years, and there are a few things I’ve learnt on this journey.

1. Make up your mind about homeschooling regularly. Embrace the fact and be very sure that your daily routine will include sitting down and teaching the kids. When you know that this is on your plate, you not only learn to make time for it, but also get in the mood for teaching. 

2. Use methods that feel good to your child and you. Experiment. Try new things. Don’t feel compelled to stick to one method. There are so many teaching tools and methods out there, and as homeschooling parents you might wonder which one to go with. So let’s say, you are using the Charlotte Mason method but after while, feel like borrowing some techniques from Montessori or the Classical or the Waldorf way of education. Give yourself permission to feast on this buffet of methods or stick to just one, depending on what works for you and your child. Just because you may have spent money on buying a teaching tools or books that adhere to a single method, doesn’t mean that you can’t still explore other methods.

3. Be open to changing things up. If you feel that something - a routine or way of learning, isn’t working for you and your children, then make some changes to bring back the fun. It could mean changing the syllabus or bringing in more story books or using online games or documentaries to supplement your lessons. It could mean changing the schedule or taking more breaks. There is no use in sticking tight to one way of doing things when it is not serving you.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Artist & Army wife Shahataaj on how she has created an art venture around her passion

Hello friends! The Brigade that Builds Brands is back with another inspiring military wife entrepreneur story. Meet Shahataaj Afzal, a Sculpture Painting Artist, Army wife and mom to two small kids. I like the tenacity with which she can crafted a handmade micro business, one steady step at a time.

Let's dive into this interview and get inspired by how Shahataaj has built a artist venture around something loves to do.

Army wife and artist
Artist & Army wife Shahataaj with her clay sculpture art

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji/military wife (and which service are/have been part of i.e Army/Air Force/Navy).

SA: I'm Shahataaj, a proud Army wife, wedded to the OG for 14yrs, a proud mommy to two adorable kids aged 7.5 & 5, a budding  Artepreneur, a certified Sculpture Painting Artist. After a 3 yrs separation due to my Army man's professional commitments, I've just shifted to our service station in North India from Hyderabad.

CB. What has been your business or creative journey been like: how & when did you start your brand/business/creative career?

SA : I'm a huge art lover, everyone says that for sure. My tryst with art started when I was in grade 6 with Mehndi cones. My mum brought home a mehndi design book from an exhibition, and I caught hold of every hand in my family to try them. I love to draw & sketch a lot, my schoolies still remember me for my mehndi stalls in our school fetes. These days it's called DIY, back then it was holiday timepass. I started doing abstract painting on earthen pots & old paint buckets. Then, Glass paintings, Fabric Painting, etc.

 Being married to an OG Soldier, we need that talent to fill up the walls, right ? That's when I started Relief Art, I garnered quite some attention for a Tree of Life mural I made. Whatever I did, was just confined within my walls. My thirst to learn new art techniques flourished with the internet and Russian Sculpture Paintings intrigued me a lot. It's a unique art technique created by Evgenia Ermilova from Russia. I followed every Sculptural Painting page on instagram. And, in May 2019,when I was on a holiday to the US, I came across a workshop by Laurel Pulvers,the 1st certified instructor for Sculpture Paintings in the US. I enrolled for it and started my journey in this beautiful art.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Author & Army wife Tanushree Podder on creating a successful writing career on the move

Hello friends! Hope you're well and making the most of this slow-down + stay-at-home phase. Today, I have a special guest at The Brigade that Builds Brands - a series that turns the spotlight on fauji wife entrepreneurs/authors/ladies who launch. Meet Tanushree Podder - a well-known author and veteran Army wife, whose articles and books we've enjoyed reading for years. It is an honor to have her over at the blog and I'm really looking forward to knowing more about how she has carved out a prolific writing career over the years.

author taunushree podder
Author & Army Wife Tanushree Podder

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife (and are you an Air Force or Army wife).

TP. I am an author based at Pune. To tell you the truth, I have wandered through several professions before opting to write. After finishing my management degree, I worked as a HR professional with Larsen & Toubro Limited for about seven years before opting out of the corporate scene.  As an army wife, there were two options before me – to pack my bags and travel with hubby or to stay put in a big city and continue with my career. I chose the former and followed my soldierly-half to the remotest locations of the country. Not for a day have I regretted my decision.

At one point in life, I did Montessori teacher’s course and took up a job in a renowned convent school, so my daughter could get admission in it. I did a beautician’s course, and several other things before realizing those were not my calling.

It was at this point that I decided to change my hobby into profession. I had been freelancing for many magazines and newspapers even when I was working, but now I began to take writing seriously. I ventured into the world of books. My first book was published while we were posted at Bikaner. It’s been twenty years since that day.

CB. What kind of books and articles do you write & what is your writing routine/schedule/process like?

TP. I call myself a maverick writer. I am a free spirited person with a curious mind and that doesn’t allow me to stick to a specific genre in writing.

As a freelance journalist, I wrote on several subjects and interviewed several prominent personalities for various newspapers and magazines before deciding to specialize in a genre. Since I loved travelling, I chose to write on travels and that took me to about sixty odd countries around the world.

Army Novels by Tanushree Podder
Books by Tanushree Podder


My journey in the world of books began with non-fiction and soon I ventured into the fiction territory. I write whatever comes to my mind. Right from the Death of a Dictator, which was about Saddam Hussein to several books on health, fitness and nutrition, I wrote about 13 books in non-fiction, before moving to fiction. Here again, I didn’t restrict myself to any genre. As a result, I wrote Nurjahan’s Daughter and Escape from Harem, both of which are historical fiction, to Boots Belts Berets, On the Double and No Margin for Error, which are military fiction, I have been writing in various genres.
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