Three-and-a-half years ago, I shut down my business. I had a small workshop in Bangalore, India creating handmade textiles that were woven, embroidered and tie dyed to be translated into clothes, scarves and home accessories. As the textiles were created by hand, it did take time and they were in the mid-to-upper price range. Though my products were appreciated, I still struggled to meet monthly sales targets and like most small businesses, was cash strapped quite often.
Around this same time, we decided to adopt our second child. The demands on my time, both at work and home, increased.
I realized I had to make some hard choices were work was concerned. If I wanted to continue with the business, I needed to raise money to invest for marketing, building more stock and looking at foreign markets or I’d have to change the way I was working and make products that didn’t need so much of labour.
I just couldn’t get my head around giving up the hand work. I had learned to weave as a young girl from my grandmother growing up in Assam.
After a few months of being stuck at a crossroad, I decided to shut down my entire business for a while and spend time with my two little ones.
The first year, I got used to the idea of not working, feeling guilty about giving up and trying to get small projects. I decided to give work and me a break. I started by being more proactive at home with my kids and traveling with them, especially back home to Assam.
The second year, I realized I was more calm and rational about work — there was a shift in my mind set. I no longer wanted to produce clothes and focus on the retail market. Instead, I had small, portable looms made and started weaving again by myself, which I hadn’t done in a very long time.
My first exhibition of my woven tapestries got a great response from interior decorators. I am currently working towards my second show. I have also started weaving workshops for adults and children.
I consider this time my time in the quiet light. During my time, I have reconnected with travel to the north east of India. I have spent time researching, visiting places to see crafts and weaving in the region. This winter, I will lead my first curated tour to explore a few areas in Assam, to understand the customs of the tribes that live there, to enjoy the natural beauty and have a memorable holiday.
I think we all need to take some quiet time out to rethink, refocus and reset our minds and be open to change that comes through.