Freelance Designer, Co-founder of Pikkabox, Trendspotter for Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve
Mumbai, India (Most recently living in NYC)
What are you working on for the year?
Three months ago I had one title and a single job. Now I have 3 titles and 3 roles. By profession I am an Industrial Designer and work as a Design Strategist helping companies with their consumer research and insights to reflect on product design and roadmap.
While on Remote Year, I started a company with my husband, Gaurabh Mathure, called Pikkabox. A mystery box, that gives a snapshot of one country every month through curated products that we find locally. There are two criteria for these products, they should tell a local cultural story and/or they are designed by a young local designer who could use an international stage. We have curated and sold boxes from two countries so far, Prague,Czech Republic and Ljubljana, Slovenia. We are now working on Pikkabox from Istanbul, Turkey. Check us out at Pikkabox.com
I also write as a Trendspotter for Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve (faithpopcorn.com/culturepulse/). Last but not the least I host traveling dinner events with my fellow traveller and friend, Geetika Agrawal, in every city we go to. Food for Thought is a dinner event created by travelers, like us, for locals.
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
Nomadic lifestyle was not on my life trajectory but I had been itching to move and work in another country. Having said that, a life in New York City with a decent job makes it hard to break the mold. When an opportunity came up for my husband and I to travel together for an entire year, break the pattern and redefine ourselves, as a couple, we just had to take the leap. It wasn't even remotely (pun intended) easy. Our Indian parents couldn't understand why we were leaving our cushy lifestyle and traveling the world instead of settling down and making babies. It took a while to explain that we didn't want to follow the beaten path but find a different life path for ourselves and we weren't afraid to take the road less traveled to do so.
How did you find yourself in a remote role?
As a designer who works in the realm of physical products, I never thought this lifestyle would be possible. Also, I am an Indian citizen but had been in the US for the past eight years on a work visa. For those who know what I mean, also know the number of restrictions this visa brings. A remote role opened a lot of doors for me. It was almost liberating.
What do you have a knack for?
I have been told, I make the best open faced sandwiches and I am calm as a Buddha.
Any advice or tips for others looking to bring travel into their lives?
The hardest part is to take that first step. Don't be afraid to break the mold. It is possible if you really want it. Never say your job doesn't allow it, or you are too old, or you have visa issues (as an Indian citizen I can write a book on that one...I will call it "Modern Day Racism"). Yes, you may have to sacrifice a few things in life or think creatively around your issues but its possible. Your brain will list a 100 issues but once you make traveling a priority, you will find creative ways to work it out. Just do it (Nike didn't pay me for that...although I wish they would read this and make a sexy ad and pay me a lot of money for it).
What book should everyone read?
Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy
What is your favorite spot on the globe for food/people/culture/music/etc?
My hometown, Mumbai, India.
What about your current work inspires you?
Running a business on the go. It is hard as hell but I love every minute of it. It makes me happy when I share it with people around the world and they have the same enthusiasm for it as we have. People and cultures inspire me the most and I am glad all my work right now revolves around them.