A little free time, hours spent in anxiety and uncertainty during the pandemic and its deadlocks have led many young people to revive old hobbies; some have found new ones to learn. Deepakshi Datta, a 24 year old from Kolkata, who runs an online store @knotsoflovebydeepakshi, said: “When I realized that maybe it would take time to find a job, I decided to move on. ‘learn macrame.
During the pandemic, people relied on the internet, which turned into this giant school where skills could be learned. Delhi-based Drishti Arora, 21, who runs a small business called @kalaadrishti, said: “I learned some basic crochet stitches from my aunt. Everything else I learned from watching YouTube tutorials.
From digital illustration to crochet, there was no shortage of creative hobbies, with time hardly being a constraint.
As such, social media was teeming with small businesses, like thrift stores, jewelry stores, and art stores. This exhibition has led artists to consider their art as an entrepreneurial opportunity. Tavleen Kaur Rajpal, 19, who runs the @artsymomo Instagram page, explained that it was on her best friend’s birthday that her sister suggested that she do illustrations of people close to her – as well as his pets – laminate them and turn them into key chains. “I put a story on my personal account asking if people would be interested in something like this and the support I received was overwhelming.”
Something similar happened with Naziya Nafis, 30, a mother of two from Patna. From childhood she envisioned a life of creativity and artistic exploration, but the expectations of family and society held her back. Macrame won her over and she now sells personalized macrame art on her @crazy_knot page.
Notice, they’re all artists and not seasoned business people. As such, the art of making sales was foreign to most of them. Tavleen had to face a huge loss due to the mismanagement of packages by the shipping company, and she realized “there will be days when a business takes losses and everything is fine, because this is part of the whole process ”.
Drishti said a client once requested a custom artwork and then ‘ghosted’ it after completing it. She had to learn business basics the hard way. Now she takes a 70 percent lead before starting a custom piece.
For Komal Nagi, a student at NIFT Bangalore, running her small business (@komal_drawings) while attending college meant a busy schedule. On the other hand, the social media aspect of running a small business inspired Deepakshi to pursue a Masters in Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam.
While companies have offered learning and personal growth, it also doesn’t hurt that the money is pouring in. Tavleen is thrilled that she was able to pay 50-60% of her tuition this year with her business money.
Drishti, whose Instagram page has a diverse collection of products, said, “I don’t like to stick to one guy. If I knitted yesterday and clay rings became popular today, I would quickly learn the craft and sell clay rings tomorrow.
Customers appreciate new products every now and then and artists try to keep up with trends.
The world of social media, which thrives on content, requires artists to become content creators. Aesthetics come into play and the success of your page depends on more than good products – photography, videography, language and engagement become big factors.
With a limited budget, most artists are forced to learn these skills on their own. Naziya explained, “There is a high barrier to entry for selling on digital platforms. It requires expertise in video and photo editing, like making a good Instagram reel.
A personal touch
Digital artists like Drishti, Tavleen, and Komal personalize their works according to clients’ needs. Komal mentioned that giving someone a work of art with a personal touch is always special.
The value of handmade products
Any hand-made work tends to be more expensive than machine-made items. Which begs the question: does the Indian consumer think it is worth it?
“It’s getting better,” say the artists. They met the two antipodes. Some clients appreciate the talent and the effort and are willing to pay the price offered to them. Others often ghost them and haggle over prices. In some cases, friends have requested a free piece of art or a free product!
The role of the family
For many artist-entrepreneurs, families have been a great support. Tavleen described how her whole family is a part of her small business. “My dad helps me with the logistics, my mom with the packaging, and my brother asks for parties every time I hit a milestone.
For Deepakshi, his mother is his “greatest support”. “She is my first investor, who looks at my public relations. I lost my dad in 2019 and since then my mom and I have been an inseparable team.
Drishti is grateful to her friends, who gave her a box of paint when she started her business.
Their clients – mostly strangers on the internet – have also been considerate and kind. “They’re extremely open to ideas, and when they like something I’ve done, they go out of their way to share the same thing. I cry when I get a good review, ”Deepakshi said.
After that ?
For Tavleen and Komal, the business will remain a side business, while they focus on finishing their studies. Drishti sees his business as an independent opportunity. For Naziya, this is just the start of her entrepreneurial journey. A master is waiting for Deepakshi, and she has “big plans for Knots”.
(The writer is an intern at Indian Express)
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