Instagram Entrepreneurs

  • Sofi Ahsan
  • Publish Date: Feb 23 2017 8:50PM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Feb 23 2017 8:50PM
Instagram Entrepreneurs

                                                            Photo Kashmir Ink

The online shopping is also customer friendly, according to Najam, as the clients can order the items of their own colour choice and suggest any changes in the product as per their taste and liking. through the interaction via Instagram DMs or WhatsApp messages.


A Dream Come True

@TulPalav, Iqra Ahmed

She has an Instagram account and it is not used to post selfies. The squared thumbnails are her shelves and the photoblog is her online store. She has done her masters in Linguistics but the language she weaves is beyond the words.

24-year-old Iqra Ahmed always had a dream to do something for Kashmir and today she is living that dream. Though fashion designing was not her field of study at the university, that has not stopped her from pursuing her passion. In November 2015, Iqra started Instagram and Facebook pages to display her designer work - a blend of Kashmiri tradition and modern style, and thus began the journey of a brand called Tul Palav.

“People just think that everyone has a dream but what I am doing right now was really my dream. I am just living that dream," says Iqra. "I had no business background and there was no idea how to do things but now I’m kind of experiencing also how it (business) takes place."

It has been more than a year since the creation of Tul Palav and today it is a flourishing online fashion store with everything from embroidered Kashmiri pheran to shrugs on display. "I am mostly focused on Tilla. The collection is sold almost within a month of its release. Tilla products get many orders and 90 pieces have already been sold of the items made public last month. Orders come in bulk," says Iqra.

Born in a family where her father and brother are lawyers and mother a government employee, Iqra's family had expected that she would become a civil servant but that was not to be because her dream was to create something beautiful and new. "Initially even no one at family knew about it. I just got some clothes and thought of a name and uploaded the work on internet. The first pictures weren’t even worth looking at but people appreciated even that. It started then and has continued," she says.

Boosted by the encouragement and positive feedback from customers, Iqra last year did a crash-course in fashion designing to add to her skills and creativity. She had done her graduation in Arts from Women's College at MA Road.

The demand for the designer wear, she says, has been increasing since day one and it is not possible for her to handle such number of orders. "There is no team. I procure the material myself; then there is designing, stitching and delivery. I’ve to handle everything. It is all done from home," she says.

When Iqra started the venture, her friends at Kashmir University would help her deliver the products to customers but now she has hired a full-time delivery boy to meet the rush of orders.

"When I completed my masters, everyone was looking for jobs but till date I haven’t applied for any job. I think I haven’t even made my resume to submit anywhere and ask for employment," she quips.

But her dream does not end here. Tul Palav may soon be available offline too. "There was no plan for physical store but now there is one...," says Iqra.



                                                        PHoto Kashmir Ink

Winter Store

@Craftcart_K, Najam Qari

Najam Qari resigned from her web designer position at a private company last year but with creativity at her back, she did not stop design - neither online nor offline. She is a freelance web developer and also owns a crochet design wear store on Instagram.

24-year-old Najam has done diploma in Information Technology but in addition to website developing, last year she also started Craft Cart K to showcase her offline weaved crochet designer wear. With multiple colour yarn in hand, she has designed traditional winter wear like caps, socks, sweaters and headbands. Croched Couls and bags are also available in her online store.

"I liked making the handcrafted items. Initially I showed them to relatives and neighbours who loved them and offered to buy them," says Najam. "I wanted to show my work to the world and I uploaded the pictures on Instagram which instantly attracted customers."

Najam could have easily developed a website to promote her products but she chose Instagram which according to her has a unique visual appeal and wide audience. "I could have made a website but that's now a normal thing from where people buy something. They will go there only when they want to and have time. Instagram is a better platform and it will remain there in the feed, instead of vanishing as is the case with Facebook," she says.

Customers send a message to Craft Cart K's WhatsApp number when they have to order something and each day there are two to three orders for the items she puts online. Najam has found a unique solution to deliver the items with limited options available at her hand.

"The delivery of the products is done as per the convenience of the customer. I take the ordered items to my uncle's shop at Lal Chowk and customers pick it from there. My cousins also help me to take the items to Kashmir University, where they handover them to customers," she says.

The online shopping is also customer friendly, according to Najam, as the clients can order the items of their own colour choice and suggest any changes in the product as per their taste and liking. through the interaction via Instagram DMs or WhatsApp messages.

Najam says it is a full-time job that she has created for her ownself and it makes her feel that she is capable of achieving something. "I haven’t created this opportunity for myself only. I think this should inspire others too who are afraid to start something of their own. Who are afraid to come out of the walls. It’s a signal to them that they can also do something," she says.




                                                                     PHoto Kashmir Ink

Friends Forever


Omaira Qayoom Khan and Beenish Bashir Khan

Armed with Instagram and an identical “degree of madness,” Omaira Qayoom and Beenish Bashir in December 2015 started an online store to sell their crochet work and floral jewellery. Next year, they bid adieu to their teaching jobs for good to focus on Craft World Kashmir. Today, they are a source of employment for not just themselves but others too.

The journey of Craft World Kashmir is not just about an online adventure but friendship too. Omaira and Beenish, both 28, did their Bachelors in Education together in 2010 and later also went for masters in Sociology in same university. They would teach in the same private school and now they jointly own the Instagram store.

“Beenish would do this work at home in the sense that she would make the crochet items for cousins etc and then it spread to neighbours. That’s when the orders started coming,” says Omaira. “Last winter she received many orders. She told me if I could help her. I agreed and then this idea came that we should start it online.”

It was Beenish’s brother who provided them the idea to take their creative work to online platform and created an Instagram account to upload photos of the designer wear. “We randomly thought of a name and began it. We started adding people and many people supported us when they realised that we were doing something unique and different,” says Omaira.

Craft World Kashmir on Instagram is a gallery of crocheted creativity and from roses to cardholders, the friends have created a colourful store of winter wear. Handmade beanies with face cover, bear caps, bookmarks and muflers are the chief attraction of the Insta page.

Each day, Craft World Kashmir recieves at least four or five orders and the customers are asked to pick the items from Beenish’s home at Chanapora in Srinagar. The work is all home-based and the friends distribute it equally to meet the customer demand.

“People see the items and direct message (DM) us asking for the products. We don’t have any outlet yet. Those who cannot reach Beenish’s house, we send them products through post. There have been orders from Jammu, Bangalore and Mumbai as well,” says Beenish.

Though Craft World Kashmir just started as a passion, when the two friends were still at school teaching children, Omaira and Beenish have not limited their online store to the traditional crocheted items. They have also introduced floral jewellery for brides, which was earlier restricted to countries like Pakistan.

Omaira and Beenish have not taken any formal training in the crochet work but are self-taught. They are not just selling their designer wear on Internet but are also simultaneously learning from the web. “We surf the internet excessively and would see that foreigners loved these things. We found our inspiration there. We would see they have made something new and then we’d attempt and end up making better,” says Beenish, adding, they would watch YouTube and learn from there.

The zeal to learn new things would keep the friends awake till midnight and in no time Omaira and Beenish learnt to create their own designs. “We kept doing it and we don’t even know how it became our full-time profession. By chance hi hogaya,” says Beenish.

The two friends have now started training three more girls to meet the rising number of orders from customers. “It was just a passion but now it’s fulltime work. We feel happy doing it and designing something new.”