Sadika Tasnim Mridu used to work for a private firm and was preparing for a government job at the same time. But with the outbreak of coronavirus, her office closed down and all exams were postponed. She returned home to Panchagarh. In that stretch of uninterrupted free time, she began to think how she could make the most of the situation. She used to like drawing ever since childhood. Then, on a whim, she began painting flowers and birds on fabric. The whim proved to be a commercial success! Over the last six months she has earned Tk 1 million (Tk 10 lakh) selling the sarees and punjabis embellished with her designs.
Sadika Tasnim said, “I used to draw since I was a child. As I grew up, I wanted to work continue with this hobby. After passing from the Department of History at the Jagannath University, I started to prepare for jobs, as suggested by my family. But I failed to pass the BCS examination and that was a setback. I decided I wanted to do something creative, but also through which I could earn. I started hand painting, which I love to do. Then the idea of opening a boutique. ‘Pancharang’ came into my mind. I started by investing Tk 5,000. I hand painted the clothes made from the fabric I bought these sold out on the very first day. This boosted my self-confidence.
I am now working on sarees, punjabis, salwar-kameez, shawls and children’s wear. I work with local fabrics mainly, especially khadi. Everyone likes my hand painted and ambush work. I wanted to make my ambush work a little different because there is a lack of variety in that work. This is why my work caught a lot of attention and interest.”
SadikaTasnim said, “Many people liked the saree I designed with the sheuli flower motif.. I have done hand paint and ambush on the saree. From 20 June to December, I sold 251 of these sarees. Then I sold 500 punjabis matching with the saree. In total, I have earned more than Tk 1 million (Tk 10 lakh) by selling these products. Many buyers, after receiving these punjabis and sarees, said these were more beautiful than the pictures. Many from outside the country have also bought my products. One of them bought clothes worth Tk 30,000.”
As sales increase, so do employment opportunities in Pancharang. At first Sadika Tasnim did everything alone, but now she has 18 women working in her organisation.
“Initially, online sales were very low,” said Sadika, “But now I get huge response online. At present, my products have reached all the districts except three or four across the country. Those who buy once, show interest in buying again. Besides, they encourage new buyers to buy. After receiving a product, when the buyer shares it on Facebook page, our saris and punjabis catch everyone's attention. It really feels good. The joy is indescribable.”
SadikaTasnim did not get support of her family at the beginning. Many did not approve of her, as a girl, getting involves in the clothing business. But now she gets a lot of support. Two groups on Facebook – WEA and DSB -- have paved her way as an entrepreneur. She said, “I have learned a lot from these groups. Many things can be learned easily in these groups.”
SadikaTasnim was saying, “The first problems we face in becoming entrepreneurs are obtaining the raw materials and finance. In my opinion, the first thing needed to be an entrepreneur is an indomitable willpower. Many obstacles can be easily be overcome by willpower. What I would say for new entrepreneurs is not to think about making quick profits. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must keep trying. You need to acquire sufficient knowledge about the subject. And there must be business integrity. Then success will follow easily.”
This feature appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashish Basu