Meet Deepa!

 13th Apr 2018 |  Stories about our Makers |  Fritha Mason

Since starting out in 2014, Secret Projects has trained over 500 women in six different states in India. With your help, we hope to be able to increase our impact and train even more women and provide them with access to the global market.

Find out what being part of Secret Projects has meant to Deepa…

Deepa, how did you start sewing?

I have always had an interest in sewing, and my husband supported me to become a seamstress. I have been sewing for more than 10 years.

What impact has being a maker had on you and your family?

We were living in a very dilapidated house without much space at home. But through my income, we were able to save up and move into a bigger house that could also accommodate my sewing. This means a lot to me. I feel a sense of gratitude for what I have and am able to do. I hope in the future I can scale up my impact even more.

And what about your wider community?

I live in an urban settlement in Bengaluru. Members of my community often find themselves in distressing situations, and many of them are single mothers. There is a high suicide rate, as they often see no future for themselves. I can proudly say that I have been able to train many of them to sew, and they have found a new lease of life. Initially, when I train them, we support each other in the sewing and share the income. Once they are confident enough, they set up their own sewing unit at home, but it takes a long time to be able to save up to own a sewing machine.

How does it compare to other jobs you have had?

I used to feel hopeless and un-productive when I was staying at home and only doing household chores. Now I feel that my life is so meaningful.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I grew up in a small village. People there are very hard working but don’t have access to many job opportunities. I am keen to take Secret Projects to my village and share the opportunity that I have had with other community members. That would make me really happy to be able to do that.

What would you like to say to the customers at Secret Projects?

I want to thank the customers and say that your purchases at the international market has boosted my self-confidence and the confidence of the other makers in my group. Being part of this project has brought hope into our lives to do great things.


We are eBay for Change Hero Sellers of the month! To celebrate, we have 30% off all Secret Products in our eBay store!

We are eBay for Change Hero Sellers of the month! To celebrate, we have 30% off all Secret Products in our eBay store!

What does it mean to be an eBay for Change Hero Seller? It's pretty simple and pretty cool! It's a way that clever eBay introduce us as one of their . . . eBay for Change Sellers to their HUGE customer base by hosting Secret Projects eBay store on the home page of eBay! So, in short, shoppers go on to the page and there is Secret Projects to check out! It's a fabulous opportunity for us to promote Secret Products (the name we give to our Ranges of clothing and homeware) to a whole new group of customers! We are celebrating by offering 30% off Secret Products stocked in our eBay for Change store until the end of September '21! We have a growing range of Secret Products on our eBay for Change store from Secret Pillows, the cutest skirts for children to our iconic Secret Sari Dresses.  There is a wide and gorgeous Range to choose from and whether you are shopping for yourself or wanting to find a unique gift, our eBay store is the place to go! Click the link below to shop: We are proud to be eBay for Change Hero Sellers and delighted to offer this discount to attract new customers and spread the story of Secret Projects further.      
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Our CEO and her partner Olaf feature their home on Grand Designs... and of course there are Secret Pillows!

Our CEO and her partner Olaf feature their home on Grand Designs... and of course there are Secret Pillows!

She always had Grand Designs!!! The full story...  As a young girl founder and CEO of Secret Projects, Fritha had a great school friend and was often . . . at her house after school  and during the holidays. One of the things Fritha loved most about the house was the pillows... Designed by her friend's mother and called Secret Pillows, they folded out into cosy blankets that Fritha would snuggle under and she decided to fill homes around the world with them! Flash forward a number of years and Fritha had had a long and successful career in the charity sector, but had never forgotten about the Secret Pillows and her desire to sell them around the globe was as strong as ever. By now, she had also worked out how she could combine this with another of her passions to empower women in India- a country she had come to know and love. It was whilst travelling around India on the back of a motorbike that Fritha met some wonderful women living in remote regions who were desperately trying to eke out a living by making flower garlands for people to buy as gifts at local temples. Fritha noticed that in most of the homes she visited there was always a sewing machine and was told by the women that they knew how to stitch well, but had no idea how to earn an income by selling items they had stitched locally. It was at this point that Fritha knew how she and the women could work together and Secret Projects was born! The first product made by women for Secret Projects was of course, the Secret Pillow and Fritha's dream came true. Hundreds of Secret Pillows have been sold since 2014 when Secret Projects was founded and they grace beds, sofas and chairs both indoors and outdoors throughout the world. Dreams do come true. Flash forward a few more years and Fritha is nicely settled down with the man of her dreams, Olaf who just happens to be a master carpenter and decided to build them a house. It's not any ordinary house either and the build has been followed by Channel 4's Grand Designs and is one of the homes featured during their autumn 2021 series. The episode aired last week on Wednesday 8th September and has been so well received by the public. UK viewers can watch it on Channel 4's catch-up platform All 4 or view on YouTube There is a fitting end to this story, Fritha's own home is now filled with Secret Pillows and she feels proud to have helped make many people's houses around the world comfortable, as having a home to call our own is so important. Fritha actually suggested that she and Olaf 'go for' Grand Designs as she thought it was a great way to get Secret Pillows on television!!! They never for a second believed that they would make it on to the show, but thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained! The rest is history, as they say and watch out for Kevin McCloud sitting at Fritha and Olaf's firepit, surrounded by Secret Pillows! And... there is one final fitting end!  Fritha's other dream has always been to fill her home with children! She and Olaf are both foster parents, caring for a young man, with plans to look after other children too. Their own daughter Lagertha (to be known day to day as La La) took a while to appear, but after a couple of years of 'trying' and a round of IVF she sprang into the world in March 2021 bang in the middle of building the house with Grand Designs deadline looming! So... the house has 4 bedrooms and 3 of these will be filled with children among the many Secret Pillows! Secret Projects is proud to share this story of hope that highlights dreams can come true at the same time as helping others to achieve their dreams too. We are proud to sell a full Range of Secret Pillows on our eBay for Change store. Click here to shop!
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India recipes from Marigold Secrets - a book by Charlotte Marsh

Recipes from India from Marigold Secrets by Charlotte Marsh Charlotte is from New Zealand. Her mentor and teachers took a trip to India with Secret . . . Projects and return with so much enthusiasm and joy. Charlotte a keen traveller herself lapped up their stories and photographers. She felt inspired to combine them in a book with recipes from her favourite cooks and from Nirmala, a great friend of Secret Projects. The book is called Marigold Secrets and we hope that you enjoy cooking your own India food with the recipes below. Speedy Dosa This is a super speedy dosa recipe adaptaed from Nadia Lim's Vegeful. These make for a quick dinner and delicious dosas in just 30 mintutes. Serve with Potato Masala and chutney Serves 4 (2 dosa per person) / Diary Free / Vegan Time 10 mins prep + 20 mins Incredients 1 cup chickpea flour 1/2 cup plain flour 1/2 cup of rice and gluten flour 1 tbs mustard seed 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 450-500 ml water Oil to cook Instructions: 1. Place flours, mustard seeds, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. 2. Whisk in the water until you have a smooth runny consistency similar to pouring cream. 3. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium to high heat and rub the oil across the pan with a paper towel. 4. Add 1/2 cup of batter to the pan while twisting and swirling the pan to spread the batter evenly in a thin layer. 5. When the surface is covered in bubbles flip the dosa over and cook the underside for a minute. 6. Transfer to a plate and serve.   Potato Masala Serves 4 / Gluten Free / Vegan Time 40 minutes to prepare + 25 minutes to cook 300g potatoes, 1 cm dice, boiled for 5 minutes, drained and cooled 2 tbsp oil 1/2 tsp mustard seeds 1 tbsp channa dal or split gram, soaked in 1/4 cup hot water for 30 minutes 2 large onions, thinly sliced 2cm ginger, finely chopped 1/4 tsp turmeric powder 1/2 cup water 3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves 1/4 tsp sugar (optional) Salt as required Instructions: 1. Place a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add oil and mustard seeds and let them splutter. 2. Add the chana dal or split gram and saute for 2-3 minutes on a low flame or till they turn light golden or golden. 3. Add the sliced onions, curry leaves, green chillies and ginger. 4. Saute until the onions soften and turn translucent. 5. Add the turmeric powder and mix very well. 6. Add water. Mix well and simmer for 2-3 minutes or till the mixture thickens a bit. 7. Add the boiled chopped potatoes and mix very well. 8. Season with salt. Also add 1/4 teaspoon sugar for a slight sweet taste (optional). 9. Simmer on a low flame for 3-4 minutes stirring occassionally. The water will reduce and the potato masala with thicken. 10. Remove from the heat and add chopped coriander leaves. The potato masala should be moist and easily spreadable on the dosa. Lay out dosa and top with potatoe mix, fold, or roll and serve.
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