Ghitorni Village, South of Delhi, India.
Koml is a Maker, well actually she started as a Maker but now has a more creative role. Today, she enjoys the role of jewellery designer, using the design skills she has developed over the years of making unique pieces. Koml, along with a team of other outstanding women has an important role in the creation of pieces in our Upcycle Collection.
Koml, started over four years ago and today, besides her design role, supports and mentors women starting out on the journey she is familiar with: one of self-discovery and confidence building. The enterprise she works with is quite unique – remember, in her village, women like Koml are encouraged not to work, and instead to stay home, raise a family and not venture far from that base. These are social norms that are so embedded in the fabric of this part of the world, that to break away from them is a massive achievement.
As I have gotten to know many of the Makers, I have learnt that each of them has their own story that has in some way led them to the career choices they have made. When Koml’s father’s bus driving job was not enough to support the family, her mother became a jewellery maker in the a social enterprise in her local village, that now supplies us for the Upcycle Collection . When Koml accompanied her mother to work, she loved what she saw. Before long she decided she too would ask for a job, and today, this quiet, bright and enthusiastic 26 year old, has discovered her design talents thanks to the nurturing and supportive working environment she is surrounded by. What’s more, she is now earning far more than her father, something that was beyond her imagination several years ago.
There is an amazing woman and socialpreneur called Shaina behind this enterprise, who is passionate about providing employment to women eager to work and learn. In this enterprise, Shaina found that when supported by an awesome and caring team, new Makers like Koml and her mother, gained the confidence and skills needed to innovate and become financially independent. They now turn upcycled fabric into the beautiful pieces that have made the Upcycle Collection one of our most popular.
A supportive and caring environment is just what these women need, along with the flexibility to work from home or come into the bright space Shaina offers them to work in. With a cozy place for young children to nap, toys to keep the pre-schoolers entertained, and healthcare when needed, as well as incentives to keep children at school, it’s easy to see why this enterprise has become such a local success story. Many of the Makers come to work with no formal education and without any work experience and like Koml, have managed to find their own passion and develop their skills to create a career for themselves. You can watch Shaina's video here.
Koml continues to live with her parents not far away from her workplace. Although Koml understands English, she is not yet confident enough to speak it in reply, so she responds in Hindi, when spoken to. Through an interpreter, she expressed to us how much she loves working there. She particularly loves the colours of the fabrics and the creativity her role requires. Working in a quiet, clean and nice environment makes her happy and she just loves the creative process involved in designing and making the jewellery – something she believes many other women would love too.
In addition to the personal benefits, Koml is so proud to be able to contribute significantly to the household. Her mother too is very proud of her achievements and what she has become. As well as working, Koml has continued with her studies and is about to graduate from University.
When I met Koml, what inspired me most was her reaction, when I picked a design she had created as my preference. Her face reflected a mixture of pride and surprise. Her expression said it all and I will never forget that moment between us. Koml proudly explained that often clients select one or two pieces she has personally created and that makes her confidence grow more and more every time. Now, besides her growing design skills, Koml wishes to improve her English, knowing language skills will open further opportunities for her to transcend from the social norms that impact women so significantly in her culture.
Whenever I wear a piece from the Upcycle Collection, I feel so inspired and always think of Koml with a warm heart and admiration. Knowing who she is and how she worked to build her own path, really makes me feel proud to wear the fruits of her labour.
For a glimpse into Koml’s working day, check out our video above and know that when you wear any piece from our Upcycle Collection, there’s a little bit of love from Koml and the women from Shaina’s enterprise right there with you.
Until next time,
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Photo and Video Credits: Finders and Makers.