Nazma learnt the kantha stitch from her mother and started practising professionally after her marriage. Her husband does not work because he has a serious heart ailment so she is the sole breadwinner of her family. They used to have farming land, but now their only asset is a house. Her only daughter is married but still studying.
Nazma had a big group of almost 70-80 women in her village, but now she has enough work only for 30-35 women. Last year she went to South Korea with an NGO to display her work and taught kantha embroidery at a workshop. Their work was highly appreciated, and she got both recognition and business there. She couldn’t believe that bedcovers that usually sold for not more than ten thousand rupees were bought for almost twenty-eight thousand rupees. It takes almost a year to complete a queen size bedcover with all over kantha embroidery.
Nazma avoids orders from boutiques, because there tends to be overly tight deadlines and she prefers to give her team the flexibility as they also manage homes. Kantha is an intricate craft that takes a lot of time. Nazma provides them with cloth, threads, designs and the ladies take their work home. Nazma then sells the items at different fairs and exhibitions organised by the government and NGOs.
Her sister, Sabina Yasmin, also works with her. Sabina was married off when she was really young and she has two school-going daughters. She supports Nazma in her business and her husband is a local tailor. Sabina wants to ensure that her daughter receive a good education and find success in their lives.
In this Covid19 situation, they cannot sell their products as all the fairs and exhibitions have been cancelled. They have a lot of stock in hand and are unable to pay their employees.
Despite their troubles, Nazma and Sabina smile when they talk. They simply state their problems in a matter of fact manner without complaining.