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.

clay sculpture art by army wife artist

Handmade business from home
Clay sculpture art - the joy of a handmade micro business

As it is said, practice makes perfect, this art needs a lot of practice. I kept trying & trying and it was my family & friends who kept encouraging me throughout, to start it as  a business venture, I would rather call it an Artistic Venture, & that's how 'springbudsnblossoms' started off. 

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?

SA: I met like-minded ladies in different stations, who had this inclination towards art. We shared our techniques with each other, no qualms about the trade secrets, though. There are some of my commissioned artworks that I had gifted and lingers as a memoir in some of my Army Friend's homes, and I have some works of my friends too. 

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

SA: Frankly speaking, this is my 1st move, since the inception of 'springbudsnblossoms'. I din't find it difficult though, since most of my marketing is through word of mouth, Whatsapp, Instagram & Facebook. I provide them with my contact, and the clients place their orders. Once the orders are ready, I pack them with a personal note & courier it to them. 

work-from-home business
Intricate art by Shahataaj

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?

SA: This is exactly where the family plays an integral part, Mrs Banerjee. It might sound like a cliche, but I must say, I have been blessed with adorable kids & the world's best mother, who have never failed to keep my spirits high. My mum has been a huge support for me in this. When I started this venture, I was Solo parenting my kids, whilst my husband was away in the Field. I juggled out time, I used to start my work, once they left for school, making it a point to complete before they came back. This art however is time consuming, a single full bloomed rose might take at least 2.5 to 3 hours to complete, different flowers take different time actually. 

A handmade piece from Shahataaj's homemade + handmade brand

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

SA: Yes! Indeed, I cherish being a part of an Army wife. After spending 3 yrs in the civvy street, it gets easy to differentiate the way we live, the way we perceive life. The strength, the individuality with which we Army wives deal with any given situation is what I feel sometime lacks in women out there in the civvy street (not generalizing, but my point of view based on what I have witnessed). 

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

SA: Handcrafted artwork is something we create with utmost love. I strive for that perfection and it hurts when sometimes people look for a bargain there. Hours & hours of hard work goes into creating one painting, and then you are termed overpriced, this notion is what I would want to change.

clay art painting
Tools + Techniques + Dedication

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)?

SA: Self Motivation is the only key that can lead one to the pinnacle. Create opportunities for you to go ahead, rather than wait for someone to create it for you. If one wants to pursue a career in the art work I do, it's easy. There are certified instructors who conduct workshops, join them & learn the art. The sheer dedication for what you do, what you want to achieve and the determination to reach out, is what will make a person know the value of himself/herself. In this fast track world, there are so many opportunities at the click of a button, all you need to do is discover your path. Once it’s set, there's no looking back. 

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.

Here is a something to think about. Click on the image to go to my video.

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