Life & Style

Deepa Pradeep’s upcycling venture, Small, has a range of products for everyday life

An upcycled product by Small

An upcycled product by Small   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Reduce, reuse and recycle are the key ideas that sustain the eco-friendly products

Deepa Pradeep’s eyes light up when she sees what most people would easily label and dismiss as trash. To the upcycling entrepreneur, everything is an opportunity at reinvention. Deepa’s upcycling label Small, with a Facebook page of the same name, displays her many creations. It is hard not to gape at the range of products that can spruce up one’s interiors or even make everyday living a more eco-friendly effort.

There are the now-common products such as newspapers made into paper bags, old tees as grocery bags, and table and bed runners from eye-catching pallus of old saris that are hard to let go of. But Deepa’s recycling abilities go an extra mile with fridge bags to store vegetables made from the ubiquitous thorthu, nylon umbrella fabric turned into durable, water-proof bags for buying meat and fish, and old furniture livened up with a change of upholstery, a new knob here and a bolt there.

Deepa Pradeep

Deepa Pradeep   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Cake boards become hand-painted clocks by Deepa, while cushion covers are enriched in themes as requested by her patrons, cotton fabric with dabu, ajrakh prints become Christmas tree hangings, earrings and pouches or embellishments on bottle bags and table napkins.

A civil engineer, Deepa worked in the field of construction for seven years. She was also an RJ with a Malayalam FM station in the city for two years. Deepa’s stint with upcycling began on an impulsive note after discussions with a friend who specialised in embroidery. “Now that I think of it, I don’t know the names of fabrics in the market and neither can I embroider but the thought of playing with fabric appealed to me. That is how Small was born,” she recalls of her journey.

Cake board converted into hand-painted clock

Cake board converted into hand-painted clock   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“The name stands for small enterprises such as these and was chosen by my husband, Pradeep, a marketing-communication professional,” she says. Mother to primary schooler Govind and teenager Karthika, Deepa says her daughter, with whom she attends art classes, is also her harshest critic.

Small’s range of cushion covers

Small’s range of cushion covers   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Once the first few orders brought forth praise from customers, Deepa was able to take up bulk orders for weddings and corporate events. In the process, the initiative has also given several people a new means of livelihood or an added source of income. “It was a revelation to my tailors that so much could be made out of the scraps that they usually burn after cutting patterns,” she says.

Deepa has a tailor each for products made from cotton fabric and jute. One of the tailors used to work as a security guard at her husband’s firm but an accident rendered him unwell to continue. That’s when he took to stitching for Small. Bag-making is handled by a group of women from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in Kovalam.

Fabric coasters made from used clothes and tailoring waste

Fabric coasters made from used clothes and tailoring waste   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Vacations now also include trips to handloom units for collaborative work, exposure to natural fabric and their possibilities. She talks about a recent visit to a handloom cluster in Kannur where scraps of khadi that caught her attention now sit on her table as tastefully designed coasters. For Deepa, Small is about a big heart for the three Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 11:59:49 PM |

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