From the Heart of... our Team

 8th Dec 2020 |  From The Heart Of... |  Margaret Ring


We are proud to introduce Fritha, Secret Projects founder and CEO, as part of our 'From the Heart of' series. 

Through this collection of stories, we want to take you to the centre of Secret Projects, right to our heart to discover what drives us as we journey towards our vision of a world where all women have the confidence and resources to make choices, thrive and contribute to the strengthening of their communities. What keeps us going? What joy and love do we encounter on the way to women's empowerment?

Get to know Fritha a little more by reading the interview below about her work with Secret Projects and a little about his home life below: 

 

Question: In a nutshell, what does your role at Secret Projects consist of?

Fritha: I am the CEO and Head of New Business and Sales. My role as CEO is a much smaller part of my role, as we are a small business at the moment. My main focus is making sure the business runs legally, effectively, has the impact we set out to and our staff, Shareholders and Customers are happy.

 

Question: Is there a typical day for you in your role? What does it look like?

Fritha: Secret Projects is nearly a 24 hour a day business because India is almost 6 hours ahead of the UK. So Secret Projects opens at 5am my time (I am based in the UK) and shuts at 6pm. I am dyslexic so that makes me an early riser because I find I am most able to read and write early in the morning. So my day starts at 5am when my phone starts pinging with the many essential WhatsApp groups used by our global team. I drink tea, respond to the WhatsApp messages and write lists of what I need to do that day. Each day has a theme to it; for example, Wednesday is called 'Opportunity Tracker' day and I dedicate the day to networking with people and opening up new business opportunities. I check my emails with a bowl of cereal, walk my beloved dog Digger around the park and then I start. My days are all different but they all involve lots of talking via Microsoft Teams, emailing, working on e-commerce sites and thinking creativity about how to make things happen. I love working and as soon as I start I don’t look up and sometimes it feels as if the end of the working day comes about too early!

 

Question: What did you do before Secret Projects?

Fritha: I was a charity fundraiser specialising in Major Donors and Community Fundraising. I started Secret Projects when I was the CEO of a UK charity raising funds for education and community projects in India called Adventure Ashram. I also ran my own charity fundraising consultancy and worked a lot for the Dry January Campaign run by Alcohol Change UK.

 

Question: What do you find most fulfilling about working with Secret Projects?

Fritha: Paying our Makers. We pay our Makers on the 15th of each month via bank transfer. I love that da!. I also find sales fulfilling because every sale leads to us being able to have a new transaction with one of our Makers.

 

Question: How does your role at Secret Projects empower you?

Fritha:

I am not ok with the social injustices embedded into our world’s social, economic and governmental structures. I want every day of my adult life to be pushing to disrupt those structures and help prove that an equal world is a better world. Secret Projects offers me a role from which to be disruptive…

People empower me. And I have met so many people through Secret Projects. Each one of them empowers in a different way.

Secret Projects pushes me all the time beyond by comfort zone. I am comfortable out there because I am dyslexic and thrive when things are at their most challenging, it is what I am used too.

 

Question: Tell us a little about your life away from work.

Fritha: I am madly in love with a man called Olaf. We met only 3 and half years ago and now we are civil partners. We are foster carers, we are building our own home in West Sussex (UK) and we are also having a baby in the Spring of 2021. I love walking my dog Digger, growing food at our allotment and sewing and making things. I also love hanging out with my family and friends, camping, going to the beach and selling at car boot sales! I love India too, but I won’t go into that because it is linked to work!!!

Here are a few question just for fun!

Question: Dancing or walking?

Fritha: Dancing on a walk!

Question: Going out for the evening or staying at home?

Fritha: Impossible question… If I stay at home I will be asleep by 7pm…which is delicious and if I go out, I stay awake which is delicious too.

Question: If you could call up anyone in the world and have a 1hour conversation, who would you call?

Fritha: I would call my hero, the King of Social Business, Professor Yunus. He owns a Secret Pillow. I would ask him to coach me for 1 hour…

And to finish...

Question: As Secret Projects drives people to think about India what do you want to tell the world about India? What do you love most about the country?

Fritha: People ask me this question all the time. My love for India is complex… but I suppose what I love about India is the way it makes me feel. I go there and it wakes me up. It makes me understand what it means to be a human being and how to be truly alive. There is an urgency about India and an urgency to live your short life well, be grateful and just get on with it.

Photo: Fritha with a Secret Sari Dress. Photographer: Sebastian Xander

 

If you enjoyed this, you might also like to read this.

More

eBay for Change - a programme to boost social enterprise. We are proud to have won a place!

eBay for Change - a programme to boost social enterprise. We are proud to have won a place!

What is eBay for Change? It's a simple and effective idea! eBay for Change is a 'hub' on eBay UK that connects it's 29 million customers with a number . . . of social enterprises with a clear mission to provide income generating opportunities for marginalised communities in the UK, as well as overseas, which have been hit hard by Covid-19. We are proud to have won a place on the programme and are looking forward to working with eBay to grow and develop a completely new audience for our Ranges of clothing and homeware, lovingly stitched by our Maker Community.   How did we become involved? To deliver their new venture, eBay partnered with Social Enterprise UK and the World Fair Trade Organization with a clear idea to provide a global shop front to small businesses who reinvest their profits back into the communities they work with. As a member of both these partner organizations, we, and others were approached by eBay and asked to take part in a competitive application process and were completely proud and overjoyed when we were advised that we had won a place on the programme! “We are delighted to have Secret Projects on board the eBay for Change programme. We are excited that we can be a part of their mission to empower women in India and to also bring a wonderful collection of clothing and homeware to eBay customers". Helen Armstrong, eBay UK   What does this mean for Secret Projects? In short, it means a huge amount of new and exciting opportunities for us. eBay has an enormous customer base throughout the world and as part of eBay for Change, we can now promote Secret Projects, our vision and Secret Products to 29 million people! Our Makers will see their work being sold all over the world, which is something they absolutely delight in! Through being a part of this innovative programme, we are confident that our customer base will grow significantly and that will translate into more stitching work for our Makers, which means more income for them to support themselves, their families and children. As part of eBay for Change we are being given some fantastic support and guidance by the team at eBay, which is excellent and is helping us to navigate our way through this new market. We are learning so many great tips for retailers like us, who work hard to empower communities. We are starting small and selling a limited number of Secret Products for now... but with a firm intention to grow our presence over time. To visit our eBay for Change shop HERE. A plea to end... those of you who have an eBay account, please can you add Secret Projects to your favourites. Thanks!   Photo: Women from the Secret Projects Maker Community gather round the sewing machine!
Continue reading >
Notice of the 2021 Annual General Meeting of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society

Notice of the 2021 Annual General Meeting of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society

The 2021 Annual General Meeting of Secret Projects Community Benefit Society will be held on Wednesday 30th June 2021 at 1pm (BST) via Zoom. (A link . . . to the meeting will be sent to all Shareholders later on this month.) Invitations have been sent to all Shareholders today, June 1st via email. Please do check your in-box and if it hasn't arrived, have a look in your junk folders and, if it appears to still not have reached you, email invest@secretprojects.org and we will send out another. We look forward to seeing our Shareholders and providing a full up-date about the business throughout the last year.  
Continue reading >
Our Appeal - help us to make and distribute 10,000 Secret Face Masks to communities in India

Our Appeal - help us to make and distribute 10,000 Secret Face Masks to communities in India

The brainchild of Sumathi, Director and Shin, Marketing Manager of Social Power India (SPI), we would like to introduce an appeal to provide Secret . . . Face Masks, produced by women from our Maker Community and given free of charge to communities in need throughout India. The details... We want to make and distribute 10,000 Secret Face Masks Sponsorship costs are £20/€25/$30 for a pack of 20 children's masks and £25/€30/$35 for a pack of 20 adult's face masks Backers of our appeal are able to sponsor multiple packs of Secret Face Masks One of the most positive aspects of our appeal lies in the fact that not only will we be providing vital face masks for those in need, but women from our Maker Community who are able to work from home during lockdown, as we don't operate from a factory, can continue production of the masks and receive an income to support themselves, their families, and children during this incredibly difficult time. To sponsor Secret Face Masks for India Please follow these instructions carefully Please head to our online retail shops by clicking the links below. (Shop in GBP, Euros or US Dollars) Sponsor Secret Face Masks in GBP Sponsor Secret Face Masks in Euros Sponsor Secret Face Masks in US Dollars Select how many packs of 20 Secret Face Masks you would like to sponsor to be distributed in India by SPI and add these to your basket. Next, click the link in point number 2 of the instructions to choose a pack of 5 Secret Face Masks for yourself (available in both adults and children's sizes) at £10/€14/$15 per pack (the shipping is free) and again, add to your basket.* Finally, follow the instructions to complete your purchase, providing a shipping address.* *Please note that due to Indian export regulations, we do require our Customers, Friends and Shareholders who would like to contribute to our Secret Face Mask sponsorship appeal to purchase at least one pack of 5 Secret Face Masks for themselves, to be shipped out of India to their address. As Bengaluru is currently in lock down, we will ship your Secret Face Masks as soon as the restrictions lift. These instructions are repeated when you go to our online shops! How we plan to distribute the face masks Initially, we plan to provide free face masks for whoever is in need in and around Bengaluru, where we are based and in Andhra Pradesh, South-East India and the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal, where we can work with our NGO partners. In and around Bengaluru Shin and Sumathi have many contacts in and around the area who can help us. We will give face masks to hospitals as well as marginalised communities in the city, where many of our Makers live. Andhra Pradesh and the Sundarbans In both these areas we have very good links with NGO's who work with groups of marginalised women. We will liaise with our partners and provide them with the necessary fabric and funds for local women's sewing groups to make the masks, and the NGO's will arrange for their distribution. One of the most positive aspects of our appeal lies in the fact that not only will we be providing vital face masks for those in need, but women from our Maker Community will stitch the masks and receive an income to support themselves, their families and children during this incredibly difficult time. Thank you so much for your support.
Continue reading >