Carving Out a Niche
‘My father always says that if you want to be happy in your life, make your surroundings happy.’ It was this very desire to do something meaningful that led Shikha to answer a call for the Purkul Youth Development Society. Swamy met the young bubbling interior designer and said that she was better suited to be working with his wife who ran Stree Shakti. That was when she met Chinni, the woman who was to turn her life around.
Shikha saw the work that Chinni and the women did and found herself at sea. She could do colours, walls, fittings and designs to suit individual tastes but knew little about product design. They told her to come and learn on the job and the very first design she made was of forests that was adapted to a quilt. That was when Chinni taught her to cut a template, understand the fabric and design. She then moved on to learning patch work and applique. Working closely with women she understood the labour that went into each quilt. Each day she was learning and she began enjoying her work.
Just when she was fitting into her job she began expecting her first child and had to leave. She had decided that she would be back within a few months but it was to take eight years and two children for Shikha return to Stree Shakti the place where she had found her calling. She was hired back as a designer, manager, marketing and human resource person. That was when Stree Shakti had decided that the only way to survive in the cut throat business of handicraft and social enterprise was not by appealing to people and corporate’s’ sense of philanthropy but was contesting each competition.
The first thing Stree Shakti did was change the way they approcached their clients – they began to look at corporate gifting and designing exclusively for the client’s needs. The very first client they got was Lufthansa – designing exlusive I Pad sleeves and notebooks in Lufthansa colours and logo. It was a smashing hit. So, more orders poured in with Brussles Airways joining the band wagon. The next to follow was an exclusive spa and resort, Vana, celebrating its fifth anniversary. Stree Shakti designed exclusive memorabilias and gifts for the occasion. Since the first breakthrough Stree Shakti now has worked with travel company Travelscope. Yet another New York based travel company ‘Learning Journeys’ uses their passport holders and tote bags. They also have a presence in the National Geographic e-portal called Novica, besides the government run e-portal Gem. ‘At Stree Shakti we understand that to stay ahead of competition we have to stand for quality, innovative design and keeping stringent deadlines – that’s our brand motto’ says Shikha.