“Paisa Chahiye”. “You need money to be independent” were the words that were instilled in me ever since I was a child.
All I ever worked towards was to finish my studies successfully, get a job, start earning. And I did, for a good 10 years, before I decided to take up entrepreneurship, and this is my story.
I am Namrutha, I run a venture called Upcyclie– that diverts fabric waste from landfills and makes products out of them. I work with women from marginal and difficult backgrounds to create these products.
My first corporate job after college was as a marketing professional.
I gained exposure into digital marketing, and product building in one of the largest SaaS players in the world.
That’s when the thought of entrepreneurship got kindled. As a 1st Generation entrepreneur himself, the Founder and CEO, encouraged his very own employees to become entrepreneurs. I came up with multiple ideas. I discussed it all with my friends, and my fiance. I loved the discussions, but was too scared to take that step. Laziness or inertia to step out of my comfort zone- I wasn’t sure. The ideas remained buried in the “Google Drive”.
Marriage happened, I had to move cities. The thrill was too much to handle. Life took over and entrepreneurship took a back seat. Career skyrocketed. I learnt a lot on the job. Jumped companies, earned salaries that my middle class upbringing would be very proud of.
It was after a good 8 years in this roller coaster of corporate that I looked at “purpose”.
I didn’t know what I was working towards. Did I have an aim- what was my goal. Am I creating, providing any solution to an issue, helping people out in the process? I tried finding joy in just going to work and coming back. There was none.
Some are lucky to find purpose as part of their corporate jobs, some find purpose in life- something makes them spring out of their bed everyday. I didn’t know what it was, till I saw what was happening to fabric waste. As someone who was trained in tailoring, I wanted to know if I can provide some solution. It was not a new concept. Was it a business idea? I knew it could be, if taken seriously. I didn’t worry about the result, I was in love with the process. I was creating something out of waste, and people can use it for a longer time.
I started visiting tailor shops to understand what they were doing with the extras. They happily dumped it in the dustbin every week. They neither had the energy nor resources and selling platforms to make sense with the waste they were generating. I volunteered to pick up the waste, once a week. Requested them not to dump it anymore. Brought it home and sorted them- by size, by materials, just to realise I cannot do it all by myself. I started looking for people.
COVID hit, a lot of people had lost their jobs, especially the part time and contract workers in large companies. The women stepped out of the house looking for jobs as house helps. When a couple of women approached my house, I asked them if it would be okay to work with tailoring waste. I was doubtful about what they would say, if they would agree. They said (and I am translating in English for convenience) “I am doing this work for my kids, to leave them a better world. I am able to do something good for society, good for the environment and at the same time be paid for it. Who else gets to be this lucky?”. That was the starting point of Upcyclie.
We have been able to convert 160kgs of waste into products and we are working on more everyday.
While Upcyclie started as a side hustle, I wanted to scale up and I had to quit my job. Do I regret it, absolutely NOT. This venture makes me spring out of my bed everyday. I am doing something good for the environment and for the women in my society.
I am not sure of the destination, it has been an amazing joy ride with waste and a lot of colours. And there is a long way to go.
Do share your love and follow us on Instagram – @upcyclie
If you are looking for a purpose and you are reading this article, give those ideas that are stashed away in a Google drive/ journal somewhere, a read. It gives you exactly what you have been looking for.
About Author :
Namrutha Ramanathan , did her PGDM from IMT Nagpur and having work for a decade in branding, product marketing she quit her full time job to focus on her brain child – @upcyclie
She and her team are working with tailors and companies who work with fabric collect the scrap and create toys, wallets, laptop bags, ear phone pouches , Ukulele bags and so on. Yes! unique products based on fabric size and shape.
If your looking to place an order , please check www.upcyclie.com
In Picture : Namrutha Ramanathan