In 2011, Pooja Kanth, a resident of New Delhi quit her job as an Administrative Officer with a corporate company. She had given birth to her first child and decided to take a break from work.
“At that time, my family and I were living in Karala village situated on the outskirts of Delhi. After a few years of staying home and raising my child, I felt the urge to join work again, but I did not want to go back to corporate life. I also noticed several other women in the village were looking for jobs they could do at home to sustain their families. So I decided I will make a living by employing them,” the 43-year-old tells The Better India
Today, she runs an online platform named ‘Pooja Ki Potli’ that sells handmade macrame art made from jute, wooden handicrafts, and more.
She has employed over 25 women, receives 150 orders every day and earns in lakhs.
Weaving Jute Threads
Macrame is a decorative art made by knotting jute thread.
After Pooja decided to help the local women in her community, she decided to learn arts and crafts too. She chose this field because the women could work from home at their own pace, and the art was relatively easy to learn.
“I spent several months learning Macrame art by watching videos on YouTube. I chose this because very few companies were making these handicrafts, and the ones sold in the market were exorbitantly priced. I wanted to make different designs of the same craft and sell them at a nominal price,” says Pooja, adding that she also felt it was a good hobby for her.
She would procure jute threads from local stores, and spend a few hours everyday making planters, wall hangers and more. Pooja says one can make mandala patterns, dream catchers, and even hanging stands by supporting them with knotted thread. Sometimes she designs them with plain thread or embellishes them with glass beads and colourful stones.
Pooja would also explain the same to her neighbours and would teach them, if they were interested to learn.
“Those who were interested would come to my home and I would spend a few hours teaching them how to weave the jute threads together. We would also make hanging stands using wooden planks,” says Pooja, who started her business from a small studio apartment.
By 2015, she had mastered the craft and officially launched a company too. However, only one woman signed up to join her company.
“We launched the company with an investment of only Rs 5,000 to buy raw materials,” says Subhash Kumar, Pooja’s husband who looks after the marketing and financial aspects of the business.
Growing the business
At first, Pooja says she would get only four or five orders in a week, from close friends or family members. The money she earned was enough to break even with the material cost and pay her employee.
Over time, more people became aware of the artform and started placing orders. However, after Pooja listed herself on an e-commerce site’s local business initiative, she was able to increase sales by 10 times and expand her team.
“We were able to expand from working with one woman to 25 women in villages like Khanjawala, Jaunti, Bawana and Karala village. Soon even the orders started increasing, and by 2020 we started receiving up to 150 orders in a day,” says Pooja.
While some customers would buy the designs made by Pooja, others would request customised patterns. Soon, she even started selling raw materials such as jute thread, wooden planks, and more so that people could make their own art. When Pooja has some free time, she even conducts online workshops
Priyanka Raghucharan, a resident of Bengaluru, first purchased one of Pooja Ki Potli products in 2019. The same year she went on to start a business of the same art and says she procures all her raw materials only from Pooja.
She says, “The quality of the products she sells is like no other. I have tried other suppliers but now I am only getting from Pooja. Earlier, I would buy them online, but now I purchase them in bulk directly from her.”
Today, the business has slowed down a little, but the team receives over 40 orders every day.
Edited by Yoshita Rao