“There’s Beauty in Broken Things” - Shikha Rathi, Founder, The ReUp Studio
The ReUp Studio, founded by 24-year-old Shikha Rathi, is a sustainable fashion brand that collects discarded pieces of cloth from factories to make dresses that are one of a kind.
Indians are no strangers to the concept of recycling. We’ve all seen our nanis and dadis put good old clothes/utensils/clay pots and whatnot through creative lifecycles before finally deciding to toss them away. Although rise in global waste production throws light on the importance of recycling products, real change can be brought about once next generations follow suit. Fortunately, the textile industry has seen a major shift as millennials and Gen Z move away from fast fashion, embracing thrift-shopping and eco-friendly clothing brands that are local and sustainable.
While social media paints a pretty picture around fast fashion trends, a Pune-based startup is gradually gaining popularity for recycling scraps collected from factories and turning them into beautiful clothes. Meet Shikha Rathi, 24-year-old optimist and founder of The ReUp Studio, a local, eco-friendly brand that promotes sustainable fashion. One conversation with Shikha is all it takes to realize that she doesn’t look at the world like most people do. “As a kid, I was drawn towards discarded objects. I would collect broken parts hoping to make something new out of them. Throwing away things was hard as I thought those broken objects had the potential to be fixed. It was the little things throughout my life that led me to this journey”, she said, while explaining what led her towards sustainable fashion.
She believes in influencing young minds by helping people find value in broken objects instead of tossing them away. With ReUp, Shikha aims to create a world where people see value and hope in brokenness, thus making room for creativity and innovation. “We live in a world of broken people and broken things, and when we see something broken, our instinct is to throw it away. We use things and people and discard them without taking time to repair, heal or mend them. The ReUp Studio believes in challenging this ‘use-and-throw’ mentality by looking at things with potential and belief of something better.”
All businesses come with their share of good and bad experiences. While terms like organic, natural, and eco-friendly are not widely recognized (or accepted!) in India, one of the major challenges for Shikha was something that came from within. “The biggest challenge for me was starting up. I had my fears, and it was difficult for me to believe that I could do it. I had nowhere else to go and I didn't want to go elsewhere, because I had a conviction in my heart that this is what I am supposed to be doing. Gradually, the power of those voices in my head grew weaker and well, I am where I am!” When you start off with something new, whether it’s a tennis class or a business venture, you’re bound to have fears and you will make mistakes. What matters in these moments of doubt is the attitude you adopt to move forward. With ReUp, Shikha brings to you an optimistic outlook, hope and self-confidence, along with eco-friendly purchases that help reduce your carbon footprint.
Inspiring someone is no piece of cake! One of the most valuable things we humans can do is motivate each other to make better choices. A brand that promotes and supports the environment, is eco-friendly and sees value in what we call ‘waste’ is one that holds the power to influence young minds. Shikha believes that ReUp has the potential to influence lifestyles and help this generation make mindful purchases. “I think people are becoming aware, and if given good options, people will buy sustainably. Also, getting clothes from ReUp is not simply purchasing eco-friendly clothes. It is so much bigger than that, even bigger than ReUp. Choosing sustainable clothing makes you part of a much bigger movement, a bigger picture where a choice as simple as sustainable clothing helps bring about change.”
Lastly, Shikha has a message for all young minds, one that encourages us to choose hope by not giving up on ourselves and the environment: “Learn to see things in a new, fresh way. Just because objects or people are broken, instead of tossing them away, look for value and potential in them. Something new and beautiful can come out of the most broken situations and things. So don’t fall prey to the use-and-throw culture and above all, choose hope.” Giving for Good Foundation looks up to local heroes like Shikha Rathi who do their bit to make the world a better place. It’s not about ‘how much’ you can give. If you’re someone who is just starting out, taking a sustainable step, then you’re already way ahead of most. It's all about perspectives.