The birth of Happywagon

I’m going to start where I left off. – My previous blog post.

Life is about the people we meet. It truly is. Since my last post, almost a year back, we have grown from a team of 6 to around 20 people strong and there are currently more chairs in office than there is space. I guess, these are good problems to have.

So during the last year,  stars aligned quite a few times again and got us in contact with few brilliant artists and creators. The first of them being – Katie Abey from the UK and Angel Bedi from Delhi. We instantly bonded. It turned out that our core purpose of being in business, was common. And that was to make people happy with the work we do.

We started working and creating products together. People who didn’t know these artists, discovered their work through us. We could tell, that people loved what they saw. At stores, We often spotted people picking up these products and smiling wide.

We realised that there could be strength in numbers. We knew, If we could get more like minded people in the wagon along with us, our goal of spreading smiles and happiness wouldn’t be far away.

We decided to create an umbrella brand. A brand that would set us off on a journey together. So we could leave happy trails wherever we went and with whatever we did.

Quite naturally, we ended up naming our wagon (Brand) – Happywagon

It’s literally, just the start and it’s already got us feeling like the Scooby doo family. (especially when one of our pet members walks into office) Solving mysteries and hopefully spreading smiles as we keep wagoning along.

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We’re working hard to get Happywagon to your city, soon. Until then, we are always online on Happywagon.com  You can also find us on Instagram – @happy.wagon

Alicia in her own comical way describes this story in short. However, the only thing I don’t agree with is how nerdy she thinks I am. :/

How I ended up starting a company with Alicia Souza

My name is Saurabh Sharma and this is my story.

It was a regular day at the ex-office. I was aimlessly facebooking and happened to stumble upon Alicia Souza’s interview on yourstory.  (Looking back – facebooking that day turned out to be life changing!)

Something about her, made me think. Instinctively, I felt like reaching out to her. I also thought – why would she even respond? I still wanted to try my luck and wrote to her on facebook. I mentioned that I work with a candle manufacturing company and wanted to discuss if she’d be interested to work on a range of doodled packaging.

She responded and gave me her email ID, asking me to share a detailed brief. I was truly elated!

I sent an email out to her and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Funnily enough, a line from my first email to her said: “Hopefully, we’ll be able to make this connection meaningful.

She got back saying she was excited about the possible outcomes of the project and suggested that it would be good to have a meeting. We met few months later in Bangalore.

One day, very randomly I sent her a list of ideas, of how she can make the most out of her talents.

Some ideas for Alicia – I wrote this email back in 2014:

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  1. Start expanding into various product categories. Example: pillows, phone cases, t shirts, accessories.
  2. Get someone to handle the business side of things so you can focus on creating content. ( I had no idea this person was going to be me! )
  3. Get your products selling at major retailers.
  4. Develop a beautiful website for all your merchandise,  find a company to whom you can outsource day to day operations and build a model where they report to you on the key performance indicators of the website/business.
  5. Find a link between doodled interiors and workplace happiness. Wall art, office space interior designing are some areas your illustrations can do wonders.

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Looking back, the email sounds almost creepy! Most of what I wrote to her, has actually transpired into reality. In fact, just last week we launched our wall art collection and we are coming out with a range of decals for offices soon!

Just so you know – there were couple of other points in the list that I’d sent to her – one was about distributing products globally and the other about someday having her own retail store! Watch out! 😃

Coming back to the story, sometime in mid 2015, I had invited her to Tuticorin to see the factory. A small town in Tamil Nadu, where I used to work. She somehow made it!

The factory visit went well. We were out for lunch and I told her about my plans of quitting. I wasn’t enjoying the work and was feeling a bit too safe. Risking a safe secure job to pursue something I loved doing, seemed like the right thing to do.

She told me about how her career panned out after quitting a job. And how her life has been nothing less than rewarding. I was awe- inspired by this super human! She just said – “if you happen to be in Bangalore, do meet me and we will figure out something together.”

That’s me having the ultimate fanboy moment!

Far away from the safe sea shores of Tuticorin, I met her again sometime in July 2015. By then, we knew there was some scope of us working together. We agreed to risk our time and re-start her online store. No paperwork, no agreement and no plans for the future. Things just felt right. She thought we could close the online store post valentines day and just run it for few months a year. The response was overwhelming. And I knew this could be turned into something more bigger and more meaningful.

So after a year of running the store on an experimental mode, a ton of emails and multiple discussions,  – we started Alicia Souza Studio Pvt. Ltd. (May 2018 Update: We’ve renamed the company to Futurewagon Pvt. Ltd.)

From just two of us, a year back, we are currently a team of 6 humans and two fur balls working towards spreading smiles and happiness all around.

If there’s one thing you would like to take back from this post, It is this  – Life is all about the people we meet.

Pearls of Wisdom From Sadhguru

A week back, during my visit to the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore, I was among the fortunate 100 or so people to witness Sadhguru share some pearls of wisdom in an intimate arrangement.

Soon after he took his seat, there were people crying, sobbing, some shaking uncontrollably and others looked like they were shocked. There certainly was magnanimous radiance coming through this mystical being. I was simply stunned by the impact his aura could create, which I was witnessing for the first time, unfold before my eyes.

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For the next two hours, what followed was pure wisdom. I gathered some pearls so you could also be positively influenced by these beautiful perspectives.

1. As the new year starts, leave behind the baggage. Our ideas, thoughts, prejudices and conclusions.

2. Choose to see the good in people. When we choose to see only the good in people, they will also start noticing the same in us. We call a rose plant, a rose plant not because of the 1000 thorns but because of few roses. It is wise to condemn an unpleasant quality, not the person.

3. Question: ” Sadhguru, what is the age of our soul? ” Answer: Please don’t get confused with meaningless philosophies. Live what is real in this moment. There is only life. Live life as best as you can.

4. Question ” How do I be conscious of earning money that is only satvic ( positive ) ”  Answer: Money is just a consequence of the actions we do. If we ensure our actions are positive, that should be enough. We should introspect to find out what we would like to create. If this creation is of some value to the world, the world will pay us back with money, which is just a currency.  If our actions are tuned to ensure money is earned, this is a surely a miserable way to live.

5. Question ” How to achieve mastery ” Answer: Becoming a master should never be a goal.  Continuous focus on what grips us, may lead someone to call us a master, someday.

6. In the end, a person got up crying with the mic in his hand to ask Sadguru his question. He wanted to know what he could do for his recently dead mother. He explained that for the last 7 years he tried to make her walk but couldn’t succeed. Sadhguru said, ” Your mother took care of you all her life. She made you walk when you were young. You must live this piece of life in way that all her hard work doesn’t go waste. Do justice to her struggles of upbringing. Just look forward and create a beautiful life for yourself. This is the best service you can do to your mother. “

The Life Story of Sam – An Ice Cream Lover

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Once upon a time, in a village called Icecreampur there lived a boy named Sam. He grew up with ice creams all around him. People in the village were in the business of making ice creams. When he was a kid, he used to have a lot of ice creams. All the flavours you can think of. Multiple times a day. Soon, Ice creams became his only love.

His ice-creamy life went on until the boy was 16. On a stormy night during winter, his mother fell ill. She had a problem in breathing. She couldn’t talk and was shivering badly. People came to help but no one could do anything to make her better. She was rushed to a nearby town.

After months of heavily dozed medicines and numerous treatments, she was finally able to survive. She came back to Icecreampur. However, for Sam and his family problems weren’t over yet. His dad became an alcoholic. They were barely able to survive as the treatment and medicines washed away all their savings.

Before Sam could figure things out, another fateful night his father passed away. Elders in the village said, he had too much alcohol in the past few months and it had weakened his heart.

Sam was left with no where to go. He had to stop school to fetch money for food and his mother’s medicines. As fate would have it, he worked in an ice cream shop. Sold hundreds of his favourite ice creams everyday but couldn’t taste a single one. His boss always kept an eye on him.

For years, he used to work twelve hours a day to earn enough to make ends meet. His mother passed away just after marrying him off to a girl from a nearby village. He had to keep toiling hard for money. Few years later, his boss increased his pay. But soon after, he had a kid to care for. He was always short of money and this went on forever.

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In the mad rush for survival, like many others, Sam lost his love for ice creams. I sincerely hope you don’t.

How a routine flight turned into an Indo-American thought fusion

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I had heard about ideas & thoughts. Also about fusions in music. I had also heard about idea sex. Nothing about thought fusion until I was part of one, recently.

SpiceJet had cancelled it’s Tuticorin flight from Chennai. They put me on their Madurai flight. As a gesture of kindness, they gave me the best seat in the flight.

I met an American guy who was seated on the aisle seat. His name was Josh. We started talking. It was his very first international trip. He was excited about touring India for the next three weeks. We talked along. After an hour or so, the pilot landed the flight, so badly that some overhead bins popped open. I realised that I didn’t realise how time had passed. We got off and waved each other good bye. I was left musing with the warmth of some silently beautiful perspectives. ( Thank you, Josh.)

1. On Indian Traffic

Indians are so aware of their surroundings while they drive. In most cases, Indians are able to survive utter chaos on the road by fighting our way out without harming or getting harmed. If American roads were any similar, they would all die of accidents.

2. On living in small towns

He stays in South Carolina. Population: 200,000. Low rent. 2 hours away from the beach and 2 hours away from the mountains. Some times, little cities let you enjoy pleasures huge ones can never.

3. On change of plans

He is 31 & not happily single. Had saved up for his honeymoon trip. He’s spending those savings now on this trip. Enjoying it thoroughly. –  Live life & figure out ways to enjoy, even if your planned honeymoon trip doesn’t happen.

4. On American & Indian parenting

Most American parents give their kids too much freedom. Most Indian parents are still nursing their 20 year old babies. Two extreme ends of a scale. He said, in his typical american accent “Somewhere in the middle is probably an ideal place to be.”

5. On family culture 

Most American kids move out and stay away from the family. Sometimes get emotionally distant. Most Indian kids are sometimes forced to stay with their families, often feeling smothered and over protected. Yet again, in his typical american accent he uttered the words “Somewhere in the middle is probably an ideal place to be.”

6. On dating culture

These days, apps can find you your so called cupid in an instant. With the wake of dating technology, Love – somewhere along the way has lost it’s essence. In most parts of India, however hard anyone tries, it’s difficult to find a meaningful relationship via a random app. Few things in life are nicer when you’re a bit traditional. Like preferring a coffee shop meeting with your potential partner rather than just limiting it to a whatsapp text.

7. On experiencing

Someone who’d visited India would have written down an experience thats unique to him or her. It almost never does justice to read about an experience than to just experience it yourself. There’s a lot of difference between the both.

8. On Career

He likes interacting with people and establishing deeper connections. He teaches at a community centre. Bringing positive impact to the society through small groups of people. Being a catalyst. A career is not defined by the suits and ties and 100’s of emails everyday. It’s defined by the positive emotions, work-life balance and overall happiness.

9. On frozen water pipes

I asked him how cold it is back in his home town and he said – 8 degree Celsius. Can’t imagine how cold that feels. He said he was worried about his home pipes bursting due to the water freezing. He had left the tap slightly open to keep the water flowing, this would ensure that the pipes don’t burst. This was new to me! I thought to myself, when you’re emotionally cold and have no outlet, you can burst too!

10. On Acceptance

We didn’t speak of this topic. Nothing close. But the way he seemed to be living through life did speak volumes about his acceptance of various things. I felt, It made him a happier human. Acceptance of the Indian traffic, mindset, people, food, bad landing et all.

I think I stole the last point from the silent words in the conversation.

Silent words. Shhh. we should listen to them.