Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Textile artist & Army wife Meenakshi Sharma on building a brand around your passions

Hello friends! I'd like to introduce you to a fabulous Army wife artist & my online friend, Meenakshi Sharma, in today's edition of The Brigade That Builds Brands. I often reach out to her to know where to source certain art supplies (for my small art brand "Jugnoo Story Art") or how to start on a new medium, and every time, she shares with generosity. Mrs. Sharma is known for her beautiful hand-painted soft furnishings and she puts in her heart & soul into every piece she creates for her clients. Let's find out how she built a successful art business post-50, while juggling her many personal commitments.

Artist Meenakshi Sharma in her living room
Meenakshi Sharma

CB. 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)?

MS. I’m Meenakshi born and brought up in Delhi and married to an AMC officer, now retired and settled in Mohali. I'm mom to two children aged 26 and 22 . I'm basically  a self taught artist . I'm passionate about all kinds of folk art like Madhubani, Pichwai Gond and tribal art. I started doing it on paper and later brought it to functional home decor items like decorative wall plates and on fabric like cushion covers dupattas and dresses I have also started doing small projects in watercolour. I sell these under the brand name Tulika. 

Three dragonflies watercolour painting
Meenakshi's watercolour dragonflies

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

MS. I had always been a creative person but all my creative pursuits had taken a back seat when my son was diagnosed with autism and most of my time was spent either running around for therapies or trying to cope up with the emotional turmoil the whole family was going through. Acceptance brought in lot of stability. But I started with my creative venture after my husband hung up his boots. At the behest of my daughter and few good friends, Tulika was born about 2years back.

Mustard yellow raw silk cushion covers with Pichwai paintings on the,
Hand-painted Pichwai on silk cushion covers

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?

MS. Like I said I had been a creative person, I use to paint basically for myself or gifting  and tried my best to contribute towards organisation whether it was gardening decor or activities involved in conducting or participating in ladies club or family welfare. My favourite projects had been doing up paediatric wards and making them as cheerful as possible . It gave me immense satisfaction and happiness and it was as if I was given a new blank canvas to paint .

CB. How do you market your work/business and products while moving 
from base to base, place to place, and often to remote areas?

MS. This doesn't apply in my case as I started this venture when we finally settled at one place. But with most of the art and craft supplies available online one just needs a good internet connectivity. I sell my products through my page on  FB...@meenakshi.tulika... And  Instagram @tulika_kalatmika  only without indulging in any marketing gimmicks so far. My experience had been great with both the platforms.

Bright birds on handmade wall plates
Handpainted birdies on plates

CB. How do you juggle your personal commitments and carting for your family while nurturing your passions and meeting work deadlines?

MS. As far as juggling responsibilities is concerned ..may be no Army commitments these days…but I have my own share of responsibilities being a mom to a son with special needs. So my schedule is all woven around my son's activities. He has a lot many anxiety issues regarding his schedule and strong likes and dislikes and aversions to any kind of changes in the above mentioned things .Though he's fairly independent but needs help in activities involving fine motor skills like buttoning, lacing and shaving, so most of my painting activities are scheduled accordingly. I take order requests where there are no time constraints because for me it's much more than a business. I like to put my heart and soul into each piece I create. Thus, I have a few people who keep coming back to me again and again. Whatever free time I get, I love to do something creative.

CB. As a creative/entrepreneur + fauji wife, is there something that you 
cherish very much about being part of this community?

MS. Oh yes! No other organisation gives you so many opportunities to learn about and travel to different parts of the country. If one is willing, each station has something to offer in terms of learning the art and craft specific to that area. I am proud of being a part of this wonderful fraternity.

Pretty handprinted lotuses on teal cushion covers
More handmade love

CB. And is there something you feel must/can change for the better?

MS. I feel that more opportunities can be given to fauji wives and some rules need to be relaxed to accommodate  this kind of entrepreneurship.

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 led to believe that you can either be a fauji wife or a professional, and 
that’s not true)?

MS. My little piece of advice to all young girls there..never give up your hobbies for anything. Do takeout time to pursue whatever you love to do. If any of your hobbies can be turned into a business from home, then do it. Today everything is so easy with internet access.With little time management and support, you can give your dreams a shot. If I can start a brand at 54, anyone can ..believe me, nothing is more painful than that cringing feeling of ..”oh I should have done that”.

Thank you Mrs. Sharma, for this wonderful tete-a-tete!  :)

INVITATION: To learn how to turn a hobby/skill/talent into a micro business from home, join me at my FREE Online Workshop on May 17/Sunday at 4.30 pm.

Whatsapp me to sign-up: 8427989038

The workshop will be either on Facebook Live or Google Meetup.

For more tips on #workingfromhome, setting up a #microbiz, #homeschooling in India and creating a happy #homelife, check out my Youtube Channel here.

#workfromhomelife #microbiz #artist #selfemployed #meenakshisharma #tulikakalatmika #handmadebusiness #workfromhomemom #momprebeur #milprebeur #armywife #thebrigadethatbuildsbrands 

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