Tuesday, February 26, 2019

#641 : Eco Friendly Products by Dopolgy - Review


With the recent plastic ban in the state, all of us have been pushed to look for Eco-friendly alternatives for bags. I successfully managed to switch to cloth or jute bags for everything including grocery shopping and vegetable shopping. It was that forced switch which made me realize that we were all literally drowning in mounds of plastic which cannot be recycled. I decided to slowly switch one product at a time and do my bit for a sustainable environment. 

In spite of the plastic ban in full swing, tender coconut vendors are still providing plastic straws. They tell me it's very much available in the market. To do my bit, I got myself stainless steel straws and have begun to carry them around in my bag. Just as I was looking to throw out a couple of other items - toothbrush and my plastic loofah, I chanced upon a tweet by a person running this Eco-friendly store - Dopolgy. They were offering Charcoal infused bamboo toothbrush, News paper color pencils, news paper seed pencils and news paper pencils. My employers - Schneider Electric - a company known for it's green initiatives - had earlier provided us all with paper seed pens which turned out to be quite good. These pencils by Dopolgy are the latest addition to my conscious stationery kit. 




Having used them for a little more than a week now, these pencils are no different from the regular wood pencils. I found no difference at all whatsoever. They are study and as perfect as the ones made out of wood. 



Having used a natural loofah made out of Vettiver roots ages ago, I had very less expectations of these loofahs. They aren't exactly durable. The fibers tend to come loose and irritate the skin in a very short span of time. This loofah are comparatively thin and do look sturdy. It's been more than a week, so far it is quite good and do not show any signs of tear or wear. 


The charcoal infused toothbrush was the perfect product of all. The brush felt weightless and the bristles are super soft.  It feels refreshing to use a product which is easy on the nature and our health as well.


All the above mentioned products are quite reasonably priced as well. 

More than the overall quality of the products, which of course is good enough, it feels good and satisfying to have made the switch! 

Please do make the switch, it's just the little bit that we can do. 

Do buy these fantastic brushes and loofahs from Dopolgy from their store here. 

Note: Dopolgy sent these products for a review, however, the opinions stated are my own.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

#640 : Women In Business - Wands by Megha : Interview


It is every Potterhead's dream to own a wand. For unlucky people like me, who are yet to visit the UK and buy the actual merchandise from Warner Brothers (which might end up burning a hole in your pocket), Megha's wands are a dream come true! Albeit at a lesser cost. 

Here is my interaction with this beautiful young woman with a quirky business!

Hello Megha,

First of all, congratulations! Your wands look so perfect.

Me: Warner Bros have their own official wand merchandise. What made you to take up this idea of wand-making?

Megha : Wand making wasn’t an idea as such , being a Potter head I wanted to own a few wands and that’s how it all started J One instagram post later people had me asking if I was selling them , and here we are J

Me : How do you really make a Wand? What’s the process and effort that go into it? Give us an inside sneak peek. 

Megha:  Magic! ;)

Well , the wands are hand made and hand painted and go through several drying processes to finally look like the end result and That’s all the Tea I can spill!

Me : Investing time and money into a business is not an easy decision, especially if you are a woman, the society tends to treat us with kid gloves. Though that is a changing one step at a time, there is a long way to go. Enlighten us on the trials and tribulations you faced when you decided to get into this business.

Megha : Wand making wasn’t something I thought I would get into you know , but when I first started I invested  my own money on it . Self doubt was one aspect that kept bothering me .Will people like my work was the one thought I had 24*7 but then I let go of that and everything was easier after that , also , not to forget ,the shipping! But … it got better with time so we’re all good now J

Me :Your business is online predominantly. Do you have some offline sales as well?

Megha : Yes , people who know me in real life are my offline customers J

Me : The small business scenario in India – How would you describe it from your experience, what are the procedures you had to follow to bring your product out.

Megha :  I think there is a lot of scope for small businesses if you base your store on something that isn’t already available and with the emerging use of social media it seems even easier , but you cannot just depend on what’s in front of you , you need to work equally hard and give them the best so your business flourishes ! Hard work gets you places is all I can say for now.

Me : Pillars of support! Immaterial of gender, we all need support to embark on a venture, who were yours?

Megha : I have always had weird dreams but nevertheless I have gotten endless support from my family and my Boyfriend J

Me : Words of wisdom for women aspiring to start their own business.

Megha : Work hard and give your all without calculating the outcome ! You’ll be shocked to see how much you achieve!









                                           

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

#639 : The Heart of You by Aarti V Raman : Cover Reveal

~ Cover Reveal ~
The Heart of You 
(A Geeks of Caltech Novel)
by Aarti V Raman


Mixed martial arts studio owner Kit Barranos has always been a fighter. He will fight for his family. For his friends. For anyone in need.

What he doesn't know how to do is fight for himself...

... Or the inconvenient and consuming desire he has for single mom Lily Fallahil.

Office manager, Lily has spent the last decade raising her son and proving her independence to her protective and overbearing brother, Drake.

She has no time for romance. Especially with Kit Barranos, who has a body to die for and eyes that rip at her soul.

When Kit reveals his heartbreaking secret to Lily - he has a brother he never knew about, one he considered his closest friend - it brings them closer, creates a bond neither can deny.

And paves the way for a steamy attraction that explodes between them.

But it isn't just Lily that Kit is slowly but surely falling for. It's her adorable son, Bret.

Navigating the holidays, their families and their feelings is no easy task.

Flawed and fiercely loyal, Kit and Lily have fought the odds and survived.

But, survival no longer seems enough.

Can they take a chance on each other, on their hearts... On a love that braves The Heart of You?

The Heart of You is Book Three of The Geeks of Caltech, a unique band of friends bonded by loyalty, brotherhood, and pain. The Geeks of Caltech are to die for and their women all they wish to live for!

COMING SOON!

About the Author:
Aarti V Raman lives in Mumbai, India and has been a commercial editor and business journalist for the better part of a decade.
She is an incurable romantic who has taken up the task of bringing Happily Ever After to life for the characters in her head. She has three traditionally published novels out, all contemporary romances from 2014-2016, with the next one slated for release in 2019.
She currently writes and self-publishes steamy contemporary romance for urban millennials with a global twist. Sometimes, there are guns and car chases too.
Her new contemporary romance series include GEEKS OF CALTECH and ROYALS OF STELLANGARD as well as standalone romances - all of which have become Amazon India and US bestsellers.
She has also appeared as speaker at lit festivals and events around India and also dabbles in poetry, while conducting creative writing workshops.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook Page * Twitter * Instagram


This Cover Reveal is powered by b00k r3vi3w Tours


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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

#638 : Maha Vishnu Trilogy: Part 1: The Code of Manavas by Arpit Bakshi : Review


Set in the future,2 million past the year 2050 to be precise, the story talks about a mysterious element called Bhoomodium. While the element makes people immortal and improves their cognitive abilities, on the long run, it is does have other consequences. Kali yuga has ended and the Swarnim yuga has begun. The people of the day are much evolved and are know as the Manavas. Lord Krishna, the actual protagonist of the book, is a scientist and the sole reason for the people,ie. the Manavas to have survived Kali yuga. Would Krishna be able to work his magic again to save the Manavas from the negative force which threatens to usurp the clan. 

When it comes to a science fiction set in the future, I'm apprehensive about reading such a story. While the genre by itself gives that freedom to let one's imagination run wild, it really doesn't warrant that the writer gets too carried away with the technicalities of it. This writer didn't do that and I a managed to read through till the end. The premise - Lord Krishna as a scientist in far future - seemed very interesting. However, I wished the writer explore the connection between the Krishna from Dwapar Yuga and the Swarnim Yuga a bit more. 

While the first quarter of the story was very interesting to read, the rest of story felt forced and quite unsure. I felt the writer could have done away with the female characters and the love triangle. They really didn't have any major role to play which seemed a bit chauvinistic to me. 

The editing felt a bit choppy in a sense that the flow felt quite inconsistent. The characterisation was basic. Since this is a trilogy, it could be that the writer intends to develop the characters in the forthcoming books. 
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Monday, February 11, 2019

#637 : Women In Business - Hooty Hoot Store by Abirami Kumaraswamy : Interview



Can happiness be brought? What is really the definition of happiness? All these questions popped in my head as I scrolled through Hooty Hoot store's beautiful Instagram feed. Her store is based on the concept of Hygge - translate loosely to cosy in Danish. I looked up and did a bit of research and realise that it was all to do with mental well being. 

Curling up in a comfortable nook with a steam hot cup of chocolate and a nice book when the weather if icy cold can really bring happiness. That just sounds a lot like what the Danish people prescribe to be happiness. Most of the products that she sells - the Hooty hoot crate, Vintage Journals, Valentine day combos, all seem to focus on experiencing happiness in a aesthetic manner. Intrigued by her concept, I decided to have a little chat with her about her business, here is a snippet of our conversation. 

Me :  How did this of concept of creating/curating a box based on Hygge come by? What or whowas your inspiration to start this business?

Abitu :  Year 2017, when I learned about the concept of Hygge, it got me hooked to it. As a person with a bit of OCD and seeks something comfy all time to read or watch, hygge sounded perfect to me. Hygge is not only about comfort and relaxation. It changed my way of living, making me more productive and positive. The 2017 Christmas season gave me a perfect opportunity to start a business, focusing primarily on gifts. The fusion of hygge and vintage products I ideated and created made my friends happy. I wanted to bring smile and glow to more such faces, thus began my journey of Hooty hoot.

Me : Investing time and money into a business is not an easy decision, especially if you are a woman, the society tends to treat us with kid gloves. Though that is a changing one step at a time, there is a long way to go. Enlighten us on the trials and tribulations you faced when you decided to get into this business.

Abitu : Investing money is a big step, it took me almost six months to make my family to understand what exactly I’m trying to do and how far I need help financially. There are few things about this subscription box that is tricky. Many people are not aware of how a subscription box works. Though there is an active and support Instagram community which understands all this, there is a long way to go. We cannot be pros overnight, every hurdle and every problem faced will help move forward.

Me: Your business is online predominantly. Do you do some offline sales as well?

Abitu :No, there aren’t any offline sales yet

Me: The small business scenario in India – How would you describe it from your experience, what are the procedures you had to follow to bring your product out!

Abitu : Small or big if you have an innovative idea, you’ll be certainly noticed by the crowd.  It is important to be clear about the idea, research this thoroughly and do a good deal of value addition to it before indulging in sales.

Me: Pillars of support! Immaterial of gender, we all need support to embark on a venture, who were yours?

Abitu: Without my two friends Indhumathi and Sara, Hooty hoot would have been hiding in some notebook’s last page. The concept of Hygge was introduced to me by my friend Harish DV on his trip to Denmark. He sent me a photo explaining Hyygge and few more Hygge concepts followed all over Denmark. This literally was the a good twist in my life which change my way of thinking and living. All thanks to my dad, who believed in me every time and supports me mentally and financially through this start up. 

Me: Pearls of wisdom for women aspiring to start their own business.

Abitu: Whatever makes your weird is probably your greatest asset, be weirdly creative and be your own boss.

About Abirami Kumaraswamy :


Abirami kumaraswamy (Fondly known as  Abitu by her friends) is  26 years old and lives in Coimbatore. Given the count of engineers of India, well she is an engineer too.  She finished her M. Tech Computer Science and Engineering and Worked with TCS. Scrap paper and Scissors was always her hobby and passion. The hectic round the clock job was unsatisfactory for this one awesome life, so she quit her job to start a small business. Almost 2 years later and three notebooks of ideas Hooty hoot was born. Hooty hoot is all about hygge, vintage and more. The love for Vintage, writing letters and making postcards are things from her childhood, all thanks to her mother.  Apart from hooty hoot and crafts she loves reading has published a book titled MazhaisaaralumTheenerkoppaiyum (Tamil poetry). The Japanese word Tsundoku, used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread books suits her perfectly!


Do check out her store here - Hooty Hoot Crate

As I signed off my conversation with her, I realised that one really needn't put in effort to find happiness.

PS. Her journals are super cute, her valentine combo is real pretty. DM her on Insta, she is really active and responds with such enthusiasm!  
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Friday, February 8, 2019

#636 : Women In Business - Happiness is Handcrafted by Archna Sudarshan : Interview


Up-scaling is probably only of the favorite activities of women from my previous generation. I've seen my mom turn our old skirts to fully functional pretty cloth bags for shopping.  People have become a bit more nature conscious these days making way for recycled and ups-scaled items into their homes.

I stumbled upon Archna's Instagram handle - Happiness is handcrafted, where she sells beautiful art items which are made from bottles (decoupage) and other scrap. Here is a snippet of my conversation with her.

Me : So what made you take up this business?

Archna : So - this initiative didn’t start as a business up-scaling things has been an integral part for dad and me since my childhood. When I had projects at school to make models, we wouldn’t buy raw materials from a store, instead try use materials from home waste. 

For example, once I had to make a skyscraper. We could have done it with cardboard and get done with it, Instead my dad encouraged me to make the building with empty shampoo bottles - this would be way back in 1996-1997, my third grade. Though it wasn’t appreciated at school, I had this satisfaction that I could make waste products beautiful.

Likewise I did my graduation in architecture and the first year had many exercises with art from waste - 
- made wind-chimes with newspapers, shoe laces and broken anklets
- collages with magazine sheets
- Jewelry with coconut Shells 
- slippers with straws, etc
It was reminiscing my childhood and the beautiful times dad and I shared making such projects.

Now being a design consultant for architecture and interiors - designing spaces having personalized touch has been my forte.

The 2 above points put together makes my interior space exciting. Mostly I work with jute ropes, wool, glass bottles - be it honey jar, pickle jar or liquor bottles.

Glass as such is a wonderful material and what an amazing way to articulate it and make it a designer piece of the home interior!!

Also, I started making personalized gifts for family and friends using these bottles which gained a lot of appreciation. Thus making my passion also my home Business and creating drama with up-scaling 😇

Me:  Investing time and money into a business is not an easy decision, especially if you are a woman, the society tends to treat us with kid gloves. Though that is a changing one step at a time, there is a long way to go. Enlighten us on the trials and tribulations you faced when you decided to get into this business.

Archna : Getting into this business has had its ups and downs just like any other business, with time being such an important factor.

Bring a handcrafter - time is of most essence. The time and energy that goes into making a product is enormous and I really wish people do realize it and appreciate it.

Also managing home, work and passion has been crazy but beautiful. Everything is what I love doing - so it’s been an amazing journey so far.  With my backbone being my husband, encouraging me to be more creative - be it interiors or handicrafts, helping me collect materials and not term me a hoarder, help with ideas and give feedback and be my support system with house hold chores, there’s nothing more I could ask for.

Money wise - it’s majorly the supplies needed, which cost wise is high in our country also with much lesser options (it’s getting better now) compared to other places, but it’s all about how you manage it.

Also this being a home business, there ain’t any major investment but for the storage spaces for all supplies and products with their packaging materials and that occupies a whole lot of space 😌

Many have realized the importance of supporting handmade artists but there’s a long way to go.


Me : Your business is online predominantly. Do you have some offline sales as well?

Archna : Yes I do make offline sales as well - but that’s usually with word of mouth, within family and friend’s circle, apartment-mates, existing client referrals, etc.


Me :  The small business scenario in India – How would you describe it from your experience, what are the procedures you had to follow to bring your product out. 

Archna : So there wasn’t a particular system I followed. It was all just trial and error.

Many products which I made for family and friends were gifted to them and only till about recently (until about 2-3 years ago) I realized I do not have pictures of them. Back then I didn’t have the idea to sell them - that’s something I truly regretted.

But of-late I’ve learnt from those mistakes and making progress.

Also, in order to get recognition - I had to make one each of all the products I had made in the past just to take pictures and post it online.

The bright side of it is that, few of them are displayed at my home, making my place colorful.
Also when someone visits my home, these products excite them and I get orders, either for the same product or something similar with customization.

Instagram has been the primary source of online sales - if not sales in a big way, at least recognition and contacts . I do have plans in the future to sign up with recognized organisations for online sales, taking it one step at a time.


Me : Pillars of support! Immaterial of gender, we all need support to embark on a venture, who were yours?

Archna : Nagarajan - Dad being the first - to teach me or even get me into the idea of up-scaling or up-cycling 

Bhuvana - Mom - being supportive of all the excitement, disappointment, mess I’ve made and everything under the roof

Sudarshan - my teenage love and now my husband 
The support, encouragement, the push, the critics, all of it through the last 15 years and forever to go - makes me what I am today.

Gowri - my mother in law
She is the primary support to help me procure raw materials here in Chennai and go around with me to markets or suggest where I can get what.

My girls - friends, sisters and sisters in law - who are always around to be happy for me and get excited with every product I make.

My regular courier service guys - who know how delicate these products are and take good care of them while packaging and shipping, in however possible ways.

This is just the start and there’s  a long long way to go.

Me:  Words of wisdom for women aspiring to start their own business.

Archna : It might be scary, may think it’s impossible, could be a doubtful move - but it’s just fine
Jump into it.

We are here to make the impossible - possible 

Create whatever starts a revolution in your heart

Be strong enough to stand alone.

Smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it!

Thank you Archna for taking time out to have this conversation!


Please do reach out to her via her Instagram Handle - Happiness is Handcrafted or her Mail ID!








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