Of the Women, By the Women, and For the Women

“We boiled and dyed with every shrub that we could lay our hands on”, Victoria

Victoria Vijayakumar Smart Indian Women

Thanks for taking the time to chat with SIW. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog.

Victoria : I am Ms.Victoria Vijayakumar, Program Co coordinator associated with Aranya Natural -natural dyeing unit from the day of inception in the year of 1994. Started with 3 challenged youngsters, it is now proud to provide livelihood to 35 young disabled youngsters and their families. Starting with just 3 trainees, we boiled and dyed with every shrub that we could lay our hands on. Some weeds turned out to be our best bets, providing us with multitude of colour and hues with amazing colour fastness. Soon we were confident that we could go commercial and we did. But we realized that to sustain Aranya, we had to go beyond plain dyeing. We started learning Shibori, batik, tie&dye, block printing etc. with the help of eminent teachers.

What inspired you to start this business?

Victoria : Having settled in a place like Munnar with abundance of natural raw material, developed keenness to explore avenues to create nature friendly products with a vision to sustain the future with less used organic products. Empowered with disabled youngsters is the most interesting part in my job.

Our managing Trustee Mrs. Ratna Krishnakumar inspired me to start this business.

What is your USP?

Victoria : My USP is natural dyed silk stoles/scarves with shibori works.

How someone can start the same business as yours in terms of investment, material procurement, production, and marketing etc?

Victoria : To start the business one should have innovative drive, passion for this art. Continuous learning and practicing is very important. Investment depends upon the number of workers. This is a laborious job. Production can start steadily. Material procurement and marketing online. Start the business with a word of mouth, brochure, website and media.

Any challenge you face in your profession and how you overcome that?

Victoria : I am a self learned artist and I motivated the disabled youngsters to innovate designs to use their undisclosed and hidden imagination tapping their precious talents, though we don’t have an in house designer.  Yet we meet the needs in the global market.

What are your plans for the future?

Victoria : Empower more disabled youth to be creative.

Improving the production capacity.

Regular sharing of knowledge with experienced designers.

Growing more dye yielding plants to remain self sustained.

Advertise Aranya products.

Start online shopping

How you manage your personal and professional life?

Victoria : I work in the project from 9am to 3pm. The remaining time is for my personal life.

What are your favorite books that you would recommend SIW family?

Victoria : Shibori books by Yoshiko wada

Natural dye book

Inside outside Magazine

Selvage Magazine

What advice would you give to young women readers of SIW who want to follow a similar career path as you?

Victoria : Passion for a career for promoting natural products

Drive to innovate new ventures

Interest to learn new techniques and skills

Practice regularly and learn by mistakes

Constantly update the latest and new trends in customer needs

Branding products with added values

Hard work and positive outlook, to overcome challenges.

All images are property of “Victoria” and required permissions have been taken to publish it on www.smartindianwomen.com website.

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