What business entrepreneurs are to the corporate world and economy, social entrepreneurs are to social change. “When I could come up with creative solutions and explore new opportunities to address social needs, people started relating to them and joined us wholeheartedly. At that instant, I decided to invest more time in such activities,” asserted Lakshmi, a designer turned social entrepreneur.
Lakshmi N Menon hails from Kanjiramattom, Kottayam, Kerala. She is an alumnus of CMS College, Kottayam and during her 10-year stint in San Francisco, she was featured in New York Fashion week as a jewelry designer while working as a featured artist in the Artizmo local artisans’ Gallery.
Her passion to give back to society led to the formation of her proprietary firm Pure Living in 2014. Her first project was Ammoommathiri or Wicksdom. The concept of making cotton wicks by grandmothers of old age homes gave wrinkled hands a ray of hope to become self-reliant. Ammoommathiri has been highlighted in the ‘Change makers’ series by BBC on Star Plus and felicitated by Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan.
INITIATIVES INSPIRING CHANGE
Chekutty Dolls: The Iconic Project
Fashioned from garments destroyed by floods, the concept of Chekutty Dolls in 2018 became an icon of resilient Kerala with the efforts of Lakshmi, Gopinath Parayil, and gazillion volunteers. The entire project helped in reviving the handloom industry of Kerala.
A Pen That Gives A Tree
What if a pen turns into a tree one day? A pen is not just a pen in the eyes of Lakshmi. Disturbed by the massive increase in plastic waste, Lakshmi invented the idea of paper pens. Made from recycled paper, with a seed in each pen making it a plantable pen, “Pen With Love” is designed with the sole intention of reducing the problem of plastic.
CoVeed for Covid
Her novel project, CoVeed was all about making miniature paper houses that can be used to store essentials (pulses, grains, etc) for those in need during the Covid 19 lockdown. She also appealed to those stuck inside homes to make miniature houses to gift to frontline workers, health workers, and police personnel. The project has been shortlisted for display by the National Museum Scotland and selected as a souvenir for Dakshinachitra craft village in Chennai.
PPE Scraps Into Mattresses
During the spike of Covid 19, the demand for mattresses, pillows, and other essentials increased in Kerala. Furthermore, it wasn’t easy to transport mattresses from other states due to borders shutdowns. Therefore, Lakshmi came up with the idea of Shayya; making of mattresses from waste material. Being a fashion designer, she wanted to create something within and for Kerala. She used this opportunity to ensure employment for women from her neighborhood. The concept of making Shayyas was very unique as it involved no stitching; anyone who knew how to braid could do it easily. This initiative attracted attention from the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda and National Museum Scotland.
THE SYMBOL OF KINDNESS AND COMPASSION
Lakshmi Menon is indeed a generous and kindhearted personality. Whenever Lakshmi faces a challenge, she upgrades and upskills herself. According to her, the hurdles appear as challenges only if we aren’t equipped enough to face them. The moment you upgrade yourself to face that challenge, it doesn’t remain a challenge anymore.
To be successful, what you ideally need is the prowess of the mind and the soul. Lakshmi is well equipped in it. She believes “Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn but you never fail.”
If she sees a problem, she immediately starts finding a creative solution and propagating it to the maximum number of people to make a larger impact. Lakshmi N Menon is indeed one of the highly renowned social entrepreneurs in India to watch out for.