68-year-old Tara Jayaprakash, who lives in Coonoor, has worked in knitting and crochet for the last five decades. Cushion covers, shawls, baby sets, tissue boxes and bedsheets are made and sold at fairs held in the city or directly to customers.
While Speaking with the Web News Observer, Tara said, “I’m from Badaga Community in Coonoor. This region remains cold for 12 months. Therefore, people wear warm clothes throughout the year. People here make sweaters with their hands at home. I learned this skill from my mother and grandmother. Since childhood, I started knitting and making sweaters from Crochet. However, earlier, this work was limited to family and friends only.
Tara’s husband was serving in the Air Force, due to which she got a chance to live in different cities of the country. After her husband’s retirement, Tara decided to stay in Coonoor. She says that wherever she lived, she made a variety of things for the people. She has been making many things for her house, such as bedsheets, cushion covers, pylons, warm clothes for children etc., all by herself. Seeing their clothes and other things, their acquaintances also started making these things for themselves. But, she never took her talent as a business.
Started ‘part-time’ business at the behest of her daughter:
Tara may have been doing this business for so many years, but she never thought of selling warm clothes and other products she had made. She says, “About six years ago, my daughter told me that I should take this skill as a business.” Many people look for household chores and handmade things for their children. I thought, what the hell is wrong with trying one. “But, still, she did not start it on a large scale.
After this, she started making different kinds of things for about two-three months. Such as cushion covers, sweaters, nudes, pylons, table covers, shawls, tissue paper boxes, bags etc. At the same time, she started putting up stalls in fairs and exhibitions to be held in the city. She says, “Apart from Coonoor, we also have a flat in Bangalore. We go there once a year. Whenever I go to Bangalore, I also take a few things made with my own hands. In many events in Bengaluru, I set up my stalls. Where these things are sold very well, and there is a chance to contact customers directly. I have participated in about 150 exhibitions so far. In this way, now a lot of people order goods from me.”
Amita Srinivasan, who lives in Bangalore, bought warm clothes for her children and cushion covers for the house from Tara’s stall at an ‘exhibition’. She says, “Such handwork is not easily found nowadays. You will not find such things in the market also. Everything made by Tara is going to last for years along with being beautiful.”
She said, “It takes two to three days to make a cushion cover, then it takes a week to make a sweater. At the same time, it also takes a lot of time to make a bedsheet.” Talking about the earnings, she says that she earns an average of 10,000 rupees in a month. At the same time, when she takes part in an exhibition, she also makes up to 40 thousand rupees.
Tips for others:
Tara says that in the ageing age, people often feel that they can do nothing now. But it’s not like that. It is true that with age, health problems begin to occur, and the ability to work also decreases quicker. However, to remain active, you must keep doing something. In addition, she advises women to focus on making their skills their business.
She said, “If I had started this work on a large scale 20-30 years ago, my income would have been much higher today, and I would have been giving employment to other people as well. At the moment, I am doing this work only for my hobby. But, what I would say to other women and especially girls is that if you have any such skill, then definitely consider making it your business. This will not only fulfil your hobby, but you will also stand on your own feet. Also, be able to contribute to improving the economic condition of their home. ”
For women who want to knit and start Crochet, she shares some tips:
Find a cheaper source for wool:
Tara says that if you want to do this work on a large scale, then you should buy wool from a place where you can get it at a lower price. Also, you buy good quality wool and take care of colours while buying them. You buy them in large quantities so that they are economical for you. The less you spend on these, and the more your profit will increase.
Make good use of social media:
Internet is a handy thing in modern times. From here, you can learn many new things and do good marketing of your products. Therefore, make good use of social media and other online platforms such as Pinterest and Facebook etc.
Created new and different things:
To keep customers connected, always make them available by making different things—made things keeping in mind the trends going on in the market. Also, always keep innovating in your products. Besides ordinary products, you can make many more things like- hot water bottle cover, hanging planter cover etc.
In the end, she says that it is ‘Zero Waste’ business. You can also use small pieces of wool in it. So if you have this skill, then definitely go ahead in it. Also, be self-sufficient and give employment to others. Of course, the story of Tara Jayprakash is an inspiration to all of us.