Poonam Katyal, a government registered artisan and has worked with various departments at different levels. She has been creating “papier mache” articles for last 15 years. Originally she worked out of Jaipur, but after marriage, she moved to Delhi where she continued promoting the “Papier Mache” art. Currently she is running an art and craft academy in Janak Puri, New Delhi called – Kalakriti Creations.
In a free-wheeling conversation with Shree Lahiri, she elaborates on how she started at the very beginning and the milestones crossed in her journey…
1. Tell us a little about your enterprise. How long ago did you start up? How has the journey been and what did you aim to achieve?
My story started seventeen years ago in Alwar where I ran a small business of making and selling paper mache handicraft items. In early 2000 I decided to pursue my interest more seriously in artwork and moved to Jaipur. Although my parents wanted me to study subjects that would get me a steady job, against all odds I enrolled myself in an art school, after graduation. For more than two years, I apprenticed with local handicraft experts in Jaipur and learnt everything there was to be learnt about “papier mache”.
In 2006, I moved to Delhi to set up my own business of creativity and selling paper mache utility and decorative items.
To begin with, I would make items for my neighbours, friends and acquaintances and word-of-mouth and appreciation grew! More orders poured in and got into dealing with bilk orders for festivals, birthdays, and corporate events. Today, I can say with pride that I am a qualified, certified artisan.
2. Where did the inspiration for setting up this business come from?
As a child I was interested in creating small logos or objects out of matchboxes. In fact, I used to make the best out of waste from anything and everything that was available at home! In 2000 I decided to pursue this as a profession.
3. Could you tell us about the challenges faced by you?
As business grew I had to get workers who knew the handicraft – that was the biggest challenge!
For this, I set up a workshop in my own place and started engaging underprivileged women, who wanted to become financially independent by building a skill in the field of art and craft.
4. Do you think the current business scenario encourages women entrepreneurship?
I feel yes, because the Government facilitation in terms of finance and functionality is very much there today. And, women are being specially encouraged. I feel women entrepreneurs can handle business far better, because their degree of empathy is high.
5. What are your future plans?
Currently, I am involved with an academy that I have set up called Kalakriti Creations – one of the best in West Delhi. I have a shop in the leading handicraft market – Dilli Haat. Plus I have a presence in online e-commerce portals too.
I plan to move into Pan-India by giving out Franchisee outlets – so that I can reach out to customers all over the country. The idea is to get in touch with other states, since there is so much of richness and variety in their crafts.
I also plan to participate in exhibitions overseas, plus I already have plans in place to visit China and France.
6. Any tips for someone starting out today?
Be customer-centric rather than profit-oriented.
Don’t disappoint your customer, even if the cost outstrips your sales price and you have to spend an extra buck!