Entrepreneurship and small businesses are the life blood of small towns.With limited job opportunities, family businesses are the best way to build a better life .
Small or big all biz needs balancing reality and dreams.The financial struggles small business people face,are very real.
The only way survival is possible, is with creative thinking and CSR.
Big and small businesses can come together in symbiotic partnerships to encourage and nurture native Indian art forms,textiles,weaves and handicrafts .
This is an inspiring story of one such beautiful partnership.
8-years ago, Tahir Mujabar, a hand-loom weaver in the historical town of Chanderi was struggling to meet ends for his family.Chanderi in Ashoknagar District of Madhya Pradesh, is popular for its art of Handloom weaving.
The tedious time-consuming nature of the work made supporting a family of six difficult.
I was under debt from local money lenders. With daughters growing up, I was concerned about their education and marriage. Buying more looms that my daughters can operate needed money. It was a difficult time for the family.”
Sarees woven by Tahir were nothing special.They thus sold for a very low price and negligible profit.
He did not have knowledge of new designs .Neither did he know any qualified designers.In the small town of Chanderi, there was no one who could guide him. His life was spiralling out if control !
Weaving is slow in handlooms, one hand-woven Chanderi Saree took 5 to 25 days to weave.With the low price and time-consuming process Tahir’s family was doomed to a life of poverty .
Then God intervened .
One day Tahir came across a new pattern in a magazine .This he tweaked to adapt to the Chanderi style.
The new pattern he designed had a wide zig zag woven border and a zig zag zari pallu. This made the sari look elegant and stylish .
He sold this saree to a local wholesaler.The wholesaler recognising the potential, showed it to their luxury showroom clients in metros.
The design became popular and orders for it in various colours came flooding in.Recognizing an opportunity Tahir set up more looms and the entire family started helping out.This way they could make multiple sarees every week and not muss out on orders .
“I have got two of my daughters married without having to take any loan for their wedding. It was their own money. I am proud of my daughters and my wife. My son does not want to migrate to the city to do labor work. He wants to stay here and help me with this business.”
Since Mrs Afroza weaved this pattern more perfectly than Tahir, he named this saree after his wife.
Artsy India, a famous MP based online portal promoting this local art, listed this saree.The “Afroza Chanderi Saree” became very popular many celebrities like Vidya Balan and Kareena Kapoor endorsed it.
“We have seen many Kanchipuram Sarees being endorsed by celebrities, but hardly any patterns in Chanderi. I think we need more such endorsements.”,
says Saurabh Jain, Founder at Artsy India.Honouring the artist they have printed the picture of Mrs Afroza weaving this pattern on their packaging boxes.
In the last 8 years, Tahir’s looms have produced over 1000 pieces of this saree .Different colors ranging from Black, Maroon, Off-White, Green, Grey, Royal Blue and more.All are sold as soon as the weaving is completed.
The trademark famous Afroza saree with the zigzag border and heavy zari pallu sells for anywhere between Rs. 6000 to Rs. 12500.
Tahir does not have any plans to switch to any other pattern right now.The “Afroza Pattern” is in huge demand.It is a lucky charm for the family.
Talking to Tahir and his son gave us insight into ground zero of entrepreneurship. Financial constraints an entrepreneur has goes through.The dedication, innovation,hard work,supportive family is important. But most importantly the ability tp identifying right opportunity at the right time and grasp it !
In a World filled with negative stories WATWB is an opportunity to spread stories of positivity optimism and hope.
Tahir and his family has shown us what hard work dedication and innovation can do. .
Watch Tahir weaving a sari in the video below .