Namrata, founder of Biome, has taken up the challenge of spreading awareness and creating a market for the products she really believes in. Being a learner at heart, she feels a woman should do what she wants anyway, irrespective of challenges and hurdles on the way. She is also launching her own website and manages a store at Makers Loft in Kolkata. Read her full interview below:
1. Describe yourself in a few words ?
I am a learner and philosopher at heart. I like to think about the direction I am heading or walking into. I believe in conservation, growth and sensitivity to ourselves and others.
2. Tell us about your work? When did you start working?
I work with ethical textiles that consider the impact on environment, skin, and the human resources involved in making it. I started working in 2008 with health NGO, Kolkata Swasthya Sankalp, where i volunteered as an assistant secretary for 6-7 years. Meanwhile i found a sustainable organic textile company and since then i have concentrated on exploring on mindful consumption of textiles.
3. What are some of the challenges which you face in your business/work ?
Challenges are mainly to keep work financially sustainable, to create awareness as no one was asking for the textiles i was working with. On a personal level, challenge of finding mental and emotional space to focus on work as home and children duties were always mostly mine. In time i have learnt to outsource some, manage some and give up certain things to accommodate my work life.
4. Whose support did you get in your family to start and run your business ?
My husband and my mother.
5. What does women empowerment mean to you?
It is a process, not a goal to be achieved. It extends to empowerment as a human and not stop at a woman. If mind can be trained to become relatively free of prejudices, weakness, fear, self indulgence, and entertainment , that process would be empowerment.
6. How do you manage work and family responsibilities ? Is it very difficult?
It is difficult in the beginning as any new skill is. But there are visible results if one is focused and intelligent to find ways to handle it.
7. Apart from work what else do you do in your spare time?
I read, practice yoga/dance, volunteer at MakersLoft, and spend time with my children.
8. What are your future plans for Biome ?
Biome should support a community, i feel, of people who would take that extra step to make the environment better than the way we got it. Slowly, once Biome is financially sustainable.
9. Tell us more about your journey as an entrepreneur.
I learnt everything in the organic way. My starting point was common sense that a non polluting product in the most polluting industry. Then was the excitement to share this with other people, and make products. I loved customizing for others, especially after understanding their language and persona. The protocols i learnt on the way of growing from an idea to a shop. I found that when i started meeting and taking suggestions from my field experts, i felt empowered and easy than struggling alone. I am still some distance away from understanding the trade compliance bit and accounting bit. I always feel i need help there. And i am looking for a partner in that area.
10. Please tell us more about the latest project that you have been working on.
I have found that people who used my fabrics for nightwear gave me excellent feedback. And then i also found that customizing is better than storing lot of garments which you intend push selling to people. So, I may narrow down to nightwear and customized handcrafted garments for clients. I am currently exhibiting a collaborative collection- BIOMESHWET at Syuti Shaili event at Birla Academy of Fine Arts, 31st Aug-3rd Sept. on the 4th Floor. This collection has specific weaving and printing inspired by late artist, S H Raza.
11. What made you choose this field of work out of so many other options ?
Because it inspired me
12. Which area of your work do you enjoy the most?
Spreading awareness and making customized garments for clients.
13. If someone wants to check out your products, how can they contact you?
My store, Biome at MakersLoft, 22 Ballygunge Park Road, Himadri West, 1st Floor.
MY FB page- Biome Ethical Textiles and soon launching my website: Biometextiles.com
14. What are some of your best-selling items?
Organic cotton fabric customized nightwear- children and adults, customized day wear
15. Tell us about your collaboration with Makers Loft.
I started working with my sister, founder of MakersLoft from Day1. I knew it was a big step and I wanted to volunteer for its success as well as train myself in this amazing learning environment. In few months, I decided to move in the same place to be more involved.
16. Women face so many challenges in society. If you had the power, which problem would you like to fix?
Finance handling and its legalities independently
17. How can discrimination against women be reduced?
If the women choose to ignore it and do what they want anyway. Take small steps. Let the house get mad over it but don't stop. Continue the journey. You would be making your own way soon. Then involve other people's role in it. Don't do it alone. Ask for help and take help. Keep good friend/ friends in confidence.
18. What has been the most challenging thing in your life and how did you manage it?
To come out of the inertia when you have not worked for like 10 years or more and then you start. Taking small steps and not stopping
19. What makes you happy ?
A good session of yoga, dance, my children's growth and a smile on client's face.
20. Any suggestion or words of advice for fellow women-entrepreneurs ?
Just keep at it. Learn and upgrade your skills. Do not become stagnant.