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How Mallika Reddy turns industrial waste into lifestyle products

Mallika Reddy

Mallika Reddy   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

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Sustainably stylish: Hyderabad-based Mallika Reddy turns industrial waste into lifestyle products and believes that there’s no plan(et) B

“I was very inspired by John Lennon’s quote ‘Life is what happens when you’re too busy making plans.’ I tend to cancel a lot of plans to stay home and watch Netflix, just like a lot of millennials so it felt authentic,” smiles Mallika Reddy when quizzed about the story behind the name of her sustainability fashion brand, Cancelled Plans, which makes lifestyle products from industrial waste.

The 27-year-old has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and was inspired by a quote she read online — “there’s no plan(et) B” which struck a chord and stayed with her. She explains, “We need to do things differently, change things up and cancel old plans to make room for new plans — the same way we are rejecting the idea that the materials we use have served already served their full purpose. We are cancelling the plan to send them into our oceans and landfills by giving them a new life and a new plan.”

Sustainability is the byword for Cancelled Plans. It uses materials (cotton, aluminium, plastic and even latex rubber) that are traditionally discarded without much use and are produced in excess due to the nature of industrial processes to manufacture a wide range of lifestyle products from totes to wallets and sling bags amongst others. The majority of the products are handmade and the young entrepreneur works with local factories to find interesting materials to use.

Mallika shares, “The waste we generate is pumped back into our chain and we find creative ways to use the materials. We ensure a safe work environment with fair wages for our employees and partners. We do small batch production so that we are not creating excess in our processes. We design our products to be durable so they can have long lives and customers will not dispose them quickly.”

The design process is entirely driven by the materials sourced and the way they behave. It starts with a survey of the factory floor where waste is generated. They are then checked for quality, durability, malleability and select materials which can be given a second life. Once the materials are collected there’s a period of rigorous experimentation until its tweaked into a cherished product.

Mallika, who belongs to the family of the pharma behemoth Dr Reddy’s, says that is something she always wanted to do is a true expression of who she is. She shares, “I have been interested in sustainability from a young age, in fact it was my area of focus even in my undergraduate studies in Architecture. I think there is a popular notion that if you do something within sustainability it makes you an activist. But that’s not entirely true, it’s bigger than that — it is a part of my upbringing and a part of my attitude.”

A firm believer that sustainability can be an outlet for creativity as well as a platform for some amazing business opportunities she states, “Increasingly, it’s becoming essential to address sustainability in any business. It is no longer a specialized field but rather a necessity. The earth is bleeding and creative sustainable solutions are exciting signs of hope for our generation and those to come. I believe design is a truly powerful medium to create impact in the world.”

Aiming to be a responsible brand — by not creating excess; encouraging people and planet over profit; and partnering with changemakers, Mallika’s biggest challenge thus far has been sourcing their most unique aspect — the materials! “Nobody has used these materials before in this manner, which makes it difficult for us anticipate how they age but we test to make sure we’re producing products that have long lives and can last years of wear and tear. We work with a lot of artisans and another challenge we face is convincing them to try doing things a bit differently — using alternative materials that they are unfamiliar with,” she states.

Planning to expand upon their product range and collaborations with other design house, for now Mallika is happy to ensure that her sustainable has entered the fashion lexicon in Hyderabad.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:44:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/hyderabad-based-mallika-reddy-turns-industrial-waste-into-lifestyle-products-for-her-label-cancelled-plans/article30338284.ece

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