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. 

CB. How do you market your work/business and products while moving from base to base, place to place, and often to remote areas?
RK. With the advent of internet, the world has shrunk and even the remotest of areas are connected to all parts of the country. Now, via social media, if you have a message worth telling, it will surely reach the target audience. I write a creative blog and share upcycling ideas on my insta page, which has a modest following of nearly 15K. My articles have been featured in leading newspapers like the Times of India, The Statesman and a number of local newspapers too, thus helping spread the word.

Reshma Kadvath and her fauji wife friends at a social commitment
Social commitments are part-and-parcel of the Fauji wife life

CB. How do you juggle that load of social commitments & welfare activities + postings and stints of solo parenting that are an integral part of the fauji lifestyle, while nurturing your passions and meeting work deadlines?
RK. I always say in jest that Goddess Durga has eighteen arms…. kudos to us Fauji wives for managing so many tasks with just a pair. After 22 years in this setup, I have become an expert juggler at managing the commitments of a fauji wife. As far as nurturing my passion goes, all these interactions help me spread the word about upcycling and help further my goals. Frequent postings have helped broaden my creative horizons.

Reshma Kadvath in a saree and an up cycled bag
Reshma Kadvath  with an up cycled potli bag

CB. As a creative/entrepreneur + fauji wife, is there something that you cherish very much about being part of this community?
RK. It is my absolute pleasure and privilege being part of this Fauji community. I attribute my identity as a ‘creative person’, to the encouragement and support provided by my huge Army family. The immensely talented Army wives have been a huge source of inspiration to me, all through my creative journey.

CB. And is there something you feel must/can change for the better?
RK. With constant postings and separations every two years, I feel that there is an urgent need to augment the accommodation available for married personnel, in all military stations. This would help ensure that families are able to spend quality time together in a secure Fauji environment, at least during peace postings. This would increase the Happiness Quotient of Fauji families manifold. “The sky’s the limit if you have a roof over your head”.

Gardens in Reshma's military homes
Lovingly created green scapes in her garden

Reshma Kadvath teaching a green workshop on recycling to Army wives
Reshma conducting a recycling workshop for military wives

CB. What tips would you give to fauji wives out there who’d like to pursue a career in your field while living at small and busy bases (many still believe or are led to believe that you can either be a fauji wife or a professional, and that’s not true)?
RK. As an author of two coffee table books, which I had taken out while in small stations, I can safely say that you needn’t always venture out to make a difference; you can stretch your wings from the confines of the four walls of your home, at your convenience… be it a metro or the remotest of stations. 
As an upcycler, who strongly advocates the mantra of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, I believe that this pandemic which has seized our world is a wake-up call for the entire Mankind. As individuals and as a society, we should do our bit to prevent further degradation of Nature. 

Thank you, Reshma :)!

Ladies, a call to action for YOU:

Are you ready to learn how to launch your own portable, work-from-home micro business on the move? 

Do you want to know how to work-from-home, be the CEO of your home + homeschool the kids?

1. Check out + subscribe to my Youtube Channel, where I share a "coffee & chat" about all of these things. Cruise over to my my Youtube Channel here.

2. For Free tips and articles on crafting a work-from-home lifestyle, Sign up for my blog (you can download my Free ebook once you sign-up).

3. Get my book "The Work-At-Home Military Wife" to launch your own portable micro biz.


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