Wild Ideas: A Patchwork Quilt of Stories in the Making
Set up in 2014, Wild Ideas was born out of a young couple’s search to get back to the roots. They chose Tiruvanamalai, a Hindu pilgrimage town in Tamil Nadu dedicated to Lord Shiva, as their abode to start work on developing sustainable livelihood projects.
The idea was to engage local disadvantaged women and youth in economic activities–from organic agriculture, low-impact architecture, and small-scale industry. The Wild Ideas brand stand for transformation and as a testimony to natural alternatives—to be good to yourself, your home, and the earth. The cooperative by, for and of disadvantaged women now produce chemical free products for home and personal care that compete with the best in the country.
In 4 short years, they have become a household name for effectiveness and affordability. Their recipes are trusted for their therapeutic value and are highly recommended by doctors, especially dermatologists for its non-toxicity.
பண்ணிடலாம். Let’s do it!
Vanitha is all things positive. Always with a beautiful smile she will readily accept any challenge head on.
Her situation at home demands a lot from her both emotionally and physically. But that doesn’t stop her from smiling.
Eager to learn and participate in the world around her she will smile and let you know that there is not a single product or process in the Wild Ideas range that she has not been a part of.
She is a true inspiration to all her friends who go to her when they feel stuck or down. She picks them up, encourages them and simply says “panidalam” which means “let’s do it” .
If you ask Kamala what she is most proud of, teaching her husband how to ride a TVS and learning how to make vegetable castile soap will top her list.
Kamala can sit with you for hours talking about ‘her’ Vegetable Castile Soap / liquid soap and it’s properties with great gusto and concentration. You can feel her dedication and love in every bottle of liquid soap we sell.
Her story is an amazing one. She was married into a large family and it was only when she got here that she realized they didn’t even have enough to eat. Her husband refused to go to work due to his epilepsy. With mounting medical bills and no income she came to Wild Ideas.
From being completely dependent on the extended family for her day to day meals and small things like bus fare to now providing for her family, educating her children, riding a scooty and even saving some money she is one proud and happy woman.
She says the best thing that happened to her was getting married to someone in Tiruvannamalai. Otherwise how would she have met Wild Ideas?
“Hellooo Akka !! This is Wild Ideas.”
She is the voice that greets you when you call Wild Ideas. Her journey in Wild Ideas is a remarkable story of determination and courage.
Suganthi joined Wild Ideas as the only tailor for our cloth bags 6 years ago. At one point Wild Ideas needed a person to handle billing and take care of customer needs. This meant computer knowledge. We were delightfully surprised when Suganthi (a quiet and reserved person) stepped up and said “Akka, I want to learn and do this.” She was a little apprehensive since she has only been to school till 8th grade. But the women encouraged her to try. She showed great courage and determination to learn something that was completely foreign to her and out of her comfort zone. She is now a confident, ever smiling, determined young lady ready to take on any challenge that life brings her.
Dhanalakshmi – another name for resolute.
Having worked in coffee estates for almost 20 years she came to Tiruvannamalai back to her home village when her husband and son passed away. With the income she makes in Wild Ideas she supports her second son, who is unemployed and often drunk, her sick daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. She knows that her income alone will not be sufficient to transform her economic condition. But if there is something she has learnt from Wild Ideas it is to be resolute. Even at her age, she has her targets well laid out; to repay a loan the family has incurred, to see at least one of her grandchildren go to college and continue to work till she has the strength to do so.
We learn from her every day.
“Wild Ideas is my family. I am so fortunate to be part of this group of women. While we all have individual responsibilities and problems to deal with back in our homes, being together with my colleagues at Wild Ideas means that I have a strong support structure to lean on. There is a lot of concern for each other. If I do not turn up for work one day, I would be flooded with calls and enquiries from my colleagues asking whether everything is fine and if I require any help. Among other things, this is what I like about Wild Ideas.”
Seven years back, Kalaivani’s husband, a tailor by profession, abandoned her and disappeared overnight after failing to repay a hefty loan of Rs. 6 lakhs. She was left alone to face the relentless pressure of debtors. Added to this was the torment from villagers who heaped insults on her. It was at this time, she came to Wild Ideas, desperate for any job. In the last five years, Kalaivani has gone from strength to strength. From a woman reeling in abject poverty, she has quietly and very determinedly charted her way out of her problems.
Today, thanks to financial literacy and discipline inculcated in Wild Ideas, she has repaid her husband’s debt. Her two children are not only fed but pursue studies with the help of the education sponsorship program of Wild Ideas. From a woman who felt she had no social skill she now interacts, quite confidently, with individuals as far-ranging as tailor machine mechanics to bank clerks. But more importantly, Kalaivani sees a future ahead of her and she is convinced that she can move forward.
“I will never forget the annual trips that we undertake in Wild Ideas. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that I, from a small village who had not even been to the nearest city, would go to different parts of this country. When I showed the photographs that we clicked on these tripsto my family and friends they were amazed. These were very memorable moments to me.”