A lot has been said and written on the ‘C’ word…
Frankly, like you all, I have had enough of this fellow, as it has been emotionally and mentally very very taxing for each one of us. It has been a time, when everyone has fought their own battles, winning some and losing some. These months were emotionally wrecking for all of us, in some way or the other. Each one of us have/had our own coping mechanisms, and judging shouldn’t be a thing to do in these times. Now that we are nearing its end (…well hopefully), it might just be time to sit back and ponder on the last few months. Our experiences and learnings. Our growth as an individual and as a society. We all did our best to wade through these troubled waters, in our own ways. Friendships and relationships for all of us in some way or the other, found new meanings. This crisis made us realise what is important and the need to prioritize. The need to sit back and muse. The ‘journal’ became a popular thing and many of us got back to our hobbies and passion. This time period, slowed us down or rather compulsively slowed us down and forced us to think and rethink. People quit jobs, changed industries and families moved from one place to another – some decisions made practical sense, whereas some others were emotional. As generations got to spend more time indoors, many lifestyle deviations occurred. Most of them positive – like elderly people becoming more technology (read social media) savvy. This trend resulted in many 65+ individuals (more females than males) become influencers, entrepreneurs and financially independent. They found a new purpose in life, when they had hoped for none. My Mom went back to reading, after almost 30 years, and I was so happy to see that. While we all complained about increasing screen time for kids, some good came out from that too – like coding classes, online selling of skills (especially in creative areas) etc. It also tested an individual’s patience, tolerance and resilience – made people more matured and emotionally more stable. The line between gender-based roles, especially at home blurred. Each one of us started giving importance to our mental and physical health. Building immunity and a healthy lifestyle became trendy. People became more aware and receptive of terms like sustainable fashion, eco-friendly products, as these got adopted in many a household. I wonder how much of this could, we have done, had it not been for this pandemic?
On personal front, for me too, it was a very demanding 17 months, as I lost some very near and dear ones. Debating with self, on how much of socializing and stepping out to be done (on a daily basis). With girls being home 24 x 7 and no support system in place, the things only got tougher with times.
On work front, being an entrepreneur had its own challenges. We struggled to get orders and keep our business going, especially in the initial months of lockdown, and then around 2nd wave. However, while sustaining business was crucial, ensuring continuous income for our artisans was our primary concern. It broke my heart to see their spouse losing jobs and some artisans selling their hard work for peanuts. On our part, we tried to keep giving them work and the cycle didn’t stop. The fabric was continuously reaching them, to generate sufficient work, even if it meant additional and large inventory in our warehouse. We could afford to hold inventory, but to them, each piece they created made a difference.
I also got innumerable calls from artisans who worked for some other brands and boutiques. They had stopped getting work; these were the weavers and artisans who mostly worked for middlemen. I also saw loyalties shift, as workers (some working for over 15 years with their employer), did not get paid in the months of Lockdown. It wasn’t easy to accommodate so many requests for work, but we tried to distribute work amongst as many as we could. The wallet payments came in handy, especially for immediate money needs like filling college forms etc. for a weaver’s son. We have actually seen our Ikat weavers’ son study, and dream of making it big.
There was a lot of satisfaction and mental calm to know, that we could in somewhat limited way, make a difference, in these demanding times. Honestly, in the process we also managed to scout some very able hands, and experienced workers to associate with our brand.
I sincerely hope, that we keep on adding more talent (from grass root level especially) to our bandwagon. I also hope that people at large, understand the difference in handmade (time and detailing) involved, and support and adorn handmade. And, if that ‘handmade’ is Indian, better still!
Circling back to where we started from, COVID… praying that this is the near end of it and reinstating the need to never forget what we learnt and experienced in this time.
And firmly believing that there is always a hope and light at the end of every tunnel…