It was agloomy day, the gloomiest of my life. I had never pictured this tragedybefalling upon myself and my innocent kids. What worse could it get for anyone!I had lost my husband to heart attack and now I was left with two children, ason and a daughter, to look after all by myself. When for many others it wouldhave meant retiring into a corner of a life abandoned to sorrow and heartbreak,I had to start a new life, a new living; I had to come out stronger than I evenknew I was. I always loved making jams and pickles. Everyone seemed to love themixed vegetable pickle and the strawberry jam I made at home. It was only afterthe death of my husband, when my kids were still studying and I was in a direneed to find a living to support them, did it strike to me that I could sell thisexpertise. So I ventured out to explore avenues that would come to my rescue. Thiswas when I met Hajira Begum and Mehfooza Bakhoi, both single struggling parentsand we decided to come together in this venture.
The firsthurdle we faced was to arrange finances. It is still a challenging task. Wepool in money from our personal savings for the raw materials. We make sure thefruits and vegetables are fresh. Our products are pure traditional organicKashmiri recipes made from fresh ingredients and home–based hygienicprocessing. There is no use of preservatives or artificial coloring agents. Oncethe products are ready, we take them to the local retailers for sale. We havebeen following this process for over 12 years now but have not been able toscale up because of lack of resources and absence of a proper channel todirectly be able to cater to our customers. Also, since we have not been indirect contact with customers, we do not get their feedback and thus have avery limited knowledge about the tastes and preferences and the current markettrends. Our pickles, jams and masala tikis have received a lot of fervor,locally as well as in the international markets of Dubai and the United States.Lacking proper marketing and distribution channels, all we can do is send apetty number of products via acquaintances travelling to these far off lands.This is the biggest backdrop to an otherwise promising endeavor. All theseproblems hinder our efforts to cater to a larger audience.
With the help ofKashmir Box, we now see our long held dreams coming true. Through Kashmir Boxwe hope to serve a larger audience. The biggest breakthrough for us will be togain recognition in the form of our own brand name, Sabz. To sell in our own name andto connect to the customers directly without the intervention of intermediariesis our long sought desire.
It is veryimportant to keep moving in life. One needs to stay busy and involved and mostimportantly financially independent, especially if there are responsibilitiesto meet. At an age when most of the women give up and consider it as the terminusof their life, we have started a new enterprise and have new heights to scale.It’s never too late to learn new things or make a new start. If we could, socan you. That is the message we want to give to the women of the Valley.
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