Entrepreneur ‘Nani’ Turned Her Crochet Love into Business at 86, Exports to 10 Countries
Gujarat resident Padma Parikh (89) turned her passion for crocheting into a business after her granddaughters helped her set it up. Her products have found customers in at least 10 countries including Netherlands, Australia, and Korea.
Located at a walking distance from their house in Ahmedabad, sisters Bansari and Heer Shah often pop into their nani’s house — be it to listen to the never-ending tales of their mother’s childhood or to grab their favourite homemade chavanprash (health supplement).
During the COVID-induced lockdown, the sisters went to her again, but this time with a business proposal.
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“Our nani [maternal grandmother] is fond of making handicrafts. We have seen her do this work since our childhood. She used to gift these products to our family members on every occasion. We would eagerly wait for her on our birthdays as she would gift us crocheted purses and blankets,” Bansari tells The Better India.
“I loved the blankets the most. She joins several small crocheted patches into a fully crocheted blanket. These blankets give me a sense of comfort whenever I wrap them around me,” adds the 24-year-old.
In 2020, the sisters launched ‘PB Handmades’ (PB stands for Padma Baa) to give their nani Padma Parikh global exposure through social media.
So, now at 89, Padma runs her own handicraft business, where she sells crocheted birds, blankets, sieved bedsheets, keychains, earrings, cradle lace, purses, cup coasters, and much more. Her handmade items are so endeared that she has established a customer base not only in India but also abroad.
From Gujarat and beyond
Padma was raised along with her five sisters and two brothers by their father who was a vaidya (ayurveda practitioner). She could only study till Class 7 but recalls being just 12 when she was fascinated with creating something new from nothing.
In a conversation with The Better India, Padma says, “I was always curious about making the best from waste. I would utilise old torn sarees and dupattas to make door mats, pillow covers, sheets, and purses.”
“Initially, I used to crochet chains using yarn or make mufflers and sweaters out of it. Eventually, I started making other craft items. I never went to any training classes to learn this work,” she adds.
In 2020, Bansari and Heer went to her with a challenging task.
“On Instagram, we saw a girl making crocheted birds and making a business out of it. That gave us the idea of helping our nani to set up an online business too. So, we went to her and showed her the picture of the bird. She observed the picture and attempted to crochet the bird out of wool,” says Bansari.
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After failing for the first three attempts, Padma was able to crochet the bird. “It took me three days to figure this out. It is not easy to crochet; it takes a lot of patience. I fixed the mistakes without getting frustrated, and finally, my crochet bird was ready,” smiles Padma.
Once the bird was made, the sisters posted its picture on their Instagram page, and soon, they started getting orders and the bird became their USP!
While her granddaughters Bansari and Heer help Padma purchase raw materials, she says her daughters help in packaging the products.
Priced between Rs 400 and Rs 5,000, so far, Padma has received 70 orders from at least 10 countries — including the USA, Australia, Netherlands, Japan, Korea, China, and Canada.
Every new order leaves Padma thrilled. “I really get excited when I get orders for my products. I try to be creative with every order I get,” she adds.
Follow your passion to fight isolation
After finishing the household chores, including cooking, cleaning, and watering her plants, Padma parks herself at her workplace — a swing in her house — and starts crocheting. Contrasting against her pale cotton sarees, Padma flaunts her colourful crocheted purses and models for the product photoshoot as well.
Heer tells The Better India, “Even at this age, she takes out at least three hours to crochet. Sadly, she cannot see with her one eye. Recently, she had to undergo eye surgery but the operation was not successful. It left her one eye damaged. But her dedication drives her to crocheting intricate works.”
“It takes her about a month to crochet a blanket, a week for a purse, and a day for customised birds. But she does not do it for the sake of fulfilling orders. In fact, we do not get orders regularly, but our nani does not stop even if she does not have any orders to fulfil. Often, she leaves us amazed with her passion,” she adds.
Meanwhile, running the business has not only empowered Padma financially but also has been her means to fight loneliness. “I want to keep myself busy. When I engage myself in work, I do not overthink my circumstances. Hum thakato nathi. Hum juso shauk ne vaste karun chun (I do not get exhausted by doing this work. That’s because I do it out of passion). Crocheting soothes me.”
She adds, “With this work, I also want to be an inspiration for other women. Today, the younger generation plans early retirement. I want to advise them to pursue their passion and keep themselves busy. Never sit idle.”
Edited by Pranita Bhat. All photos: Bansari Shah.
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