Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Brigade That Builds Brands: Payal Mittal Talwar's take on building a business & juggling service commitments

Hello everyone! Welcome to 'The Brigade that Builds Brands'. It's all about fauji wives / military spouses, who make work work for them through multiple postings, back-to-back social commitments, spotty internet connections, long stints of single parenting, community mindset regarding how military spouses should or should not work and a lot more. 

Meet Payal Mittal Talwar, a Life Coach, Trainer, Co-founder of WINGS Team and Army wife. I was introduced toPayal a year ago, when I was looking for ladies to interview for my article about Military Spouse Entrepreneurs. Since then, we've followed each other's journey and Payal has been especially supportive of my sojourn as a Green Wellness Educator & Entrepreneur

Here's our chat about what it takes to build a sumptuous work portfolio, while also living and working at back-of-beyond bases.

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

P. I’ve been married for over 22 years – a fauji to boot as I’m also a fauji daughter and a fauji daughter in law.

I co-founded a company, WINGS team, with my best friend- Priyanka Renjen Kumar(a  fauji wife herself). We are into Life Coaching, training and facilitation, and content development (social media as well as academic).

Payal with her best friend and business partner, Priyanka Renjen Kumar

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

P. We started about 6 years back – with a dream to provide fauji ladies with opportunities wherever they might be. Having stayed away from husbands to work and wanting the best of both worlds, we both were well aware of the frustration that sets in when one can’t be an earning member- esp. when one looked at the college and school friends who had earned a name for themselves.

The idea was to be able to provide a platform, so that if a lady wanted and was willing to get out of her comfort zone a bit, she could create work opportunities for herself.

To this end, we started qualifying ourselves suitably to gain an edge in this competitive world. Though we both had the required basic qualifications, we went onto get one major qualification per year. By God’s grace (and a lot of hard work ;)), we both are IFC (a world bank arm) certified trainers and LOA trainers. We are also Neuro-Linguistic Programming Master Practitioners as well as NLP Life Coaches.

These certifications have enabled us to approach corporates and garner experience. With this standing, we are now better placed to look for work opportunities for other ladies.

C. 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?

P. It’s been a struggle but we made it work. We work from home and meet up in a coffee shop for our monthly meets – now that both of us are in Delhi. We have a team of over 14 ladies who are involved in content development with us. Then, there are trainers pan India who we employ on project basis.

Technology has been a boon towards this end. We share files over the cloud, have whatsapp groups for various projects, and train our trainers over Skype or Zoom.

We both have been actively participating in the fauji activities – though maybe a wee bit less than ladies who can give more productive time to the fauj. But where we’ve been needed, we’ve been there- often jostling between stations and meetings.

It’s a fine balance – and requires a lot of perseverance. But with the support of other ladies, and our families –I think, we have been able to manage well. We have been blessed that we never lacked the support of our families and friends (fauji ladies who reinforced our belief, cheered for us and lend us a lot of support).

As for doing what one could, apart from managing WINGS, the quiet Army cantonment gave me the perfect setting to churn out my first book, ‘Kanta Bai Pvt Ltd’. J

 Payal's book 'Kanta Bai Pvt Ltd'

C. How do you juggle that load of social commitments & welfare activities that are an integral part of the fauji community, while nurturing your passions and meeting work deadlines?

P. As I wrote earlier, it IS tough but can be managed. You compromise on some work issues and some fauji issues. Prioritizing is very important here. We’ve never forgotten that we are an integral part of the Army and how much it’s done for us.

At times, it’s through the support of other fauji ladies and at times, it’s the relationships you create at work, which make it all happen for you. We are very conscious of not letting either be an excuse for the other – which might mean letting go of a few work opportunities or not turning up for a few fauji events. One has to grade according to the importance of the event – and maybe work overtime (at either place).

It gets tough when work deadlines are not compromisable – one cannot afford to put forth a non-professional veneer. We’ve let go of important assignments because of some important engagement of the fauj – but then we have also not attended some events when we can avoid them.

C. As a creative/entrepreneur + fauji wife, is there something that you cherish very much about being part of this community? And is there something you feel must/can change for the better?

P. The key here is for the Fauji fraternity to understand the compulsions a working woman has, as also for us to be fully aware of our roles and responsibilities as fauji wives. And it’s heartening to see this becoming more and more evident now.

There is much more acceptance of the obligations of a working fauji wife. And similarly, the wives are also trying their best to maintain this balance.
I really cherish the opportunities that the fauj gives us for our growth. The various ladies meets/ welfare activities are places to explore our creative sides and really make a difference. The lectures that we attend and the exposure to fine living, all go into building us up. We learn so much by just being a part of this wonderful community.

The only thing that needs to change is the maybe we could have more acceptance of everyone – and also start looking at our blessings more.

C. What challenges have you faced in balancing work and fauji life?

P. Time pressure is the biggest challenge. Also, being posted in remote areas does cut off a lot of opportunities.

C. What tips would you give to fauji wives out there who’d like to pursue their dreams 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)?

P. In the end, it’s a call each one has to take personally. Work catches up after maybe a lot more effort than if you were in a bigger place with a regular job. 

But the fauj not just gives you a family but also a pride at being a part of it. I would say that since you’ve taken the choice, explore the possibilities. There are lots online - ask other ladies on such forums. If nothing works, you could get actively involved in some welfare activity and really make a difference. Or educate yourself.

If you are so inclined, you could paint (towards some end-an exhibition or some display), author a book or start some classes. There are online groups for everything – get connected and form a network. People will seek you out.
My one advice would be – get out of your comfort zone – explore. There are always schools/ colleges nearby where you could give lectures/ maybe travel to the nearest town once a month to do something.

It might seem difficult and maybe not pay enough at all – but if you really want to, you can build up your work-life and be intellectually stimulated. All it requires is a resolve and a lot of discipline.

C. A parting quote or philosophy that helps you stay calm and do what you do?

P. Lol- the one mantra all faujis follow –
This too shall pass!

Thank you for joining me at my blog!

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Artist & Army Wife Harpriya Bains's Story

Are you a fauji wife/ military spouse with a project/business/brand/aspirations of your own & would like to be part of this series? Drop us a comment below telling us about what you do and how we can reach you.

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  1. Interesting read, thanks. Try and get spouses pursuing different business domains. That would add value. Kudos again.

  2. Here’s a tip for people trying to come up with brand names: check out this site! They give out great advice on brand naming ventures, and can even help with creating taglines! I highly recommend them to anyone new to the business scene.


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