I’ve been blogging for about a year now. I blog about my passions- the crafts that I work with, my travels, some projects that I do for clients and all the little things that I do in my home. So this blog has evolved as something bigger than just my work. 2011 has shaped me more than any of other years and I am happy for that. I start 2012 on a wiser note and I wish to share this as well. We all believe in a cause (sometimes many) and should stand up to that, no matter what. In this section, I will write about those things, the ones that matter to me and the people around me.
I’ve been on Facebook for so long that I don’t remember a life without it. If there are a handful who know about what I do, I owe it to Facebook. Social media has changed the way we live, love and stay in touch. My mom leaves me messages on Facebook. She thinks it reaches me faster than the telephone! While spending those countless hours on Facebook, I started looking at it from a different point of view.
My current profile picture (the one with my husband) has more than 30 likes and 20 odd people talking about it in the comments section. This is unlike my previous profile picture where I am holding an handcrafted, beautiful product in my hand. That picture has just 1 like and 1 person talking about it. Worse still, the products on my ‘page’ get about 2-3 likes. It takes me a good couple of hours to create the setting, compose the pictures, take multiple shots and edit them before they finally go on Facebook.
Compare all this with 37,866,245 views on Kolaveri Di (when I last checked it), the hundreds of gushes over Aishwarya Rai’s baby and the patriotism that we shower on Indian Cricket. So why did I look up or rather wonder about all this?
Because my livelihood depends on it. Social Media helps small companies like mine achieve some kind of awareness at a relatively low cost. I work with dying crafts, less priveleged craftspeople and their handicrafts (mostly of deteriorating quality). I work at understanding their work, using my skills and my experience in improving the quality of their work and help them create products that may be relevant to the audience. All this is hard work. It may seem interesting that I travel so much, get to meet those cool craftsmen, work on those bright colors and drink chai at the highway dhaba (while some others are slogging it off in air-conditioned offices, tired of flying so much and eating all that junk food). Trust me, it is not cool to travel 30 hours in a train (even second AC coaches have rats running around), eat random meals, haggle with the hotel owners to save those of couple of hundred rupees in an attempt to reduce costs, take local transport, talk to the craftsmen in sign language (India speaks several hundred languages and I speak just 3 of them) and convince them to work for me. I cannot promise regular work. I cannot be sure that my products will be ‘liked’, will be ‘shared’ and finally will be bought.
In my naive days, I thought the tepid response was because people didn’t understand what they were buying. So I planned a day long trip to a craft village near Bangalore. Needless to guess, not one signed up. On a weekend, people had art galleries to visit, friends to meet, clothes to buy, movies to watch. So I ended up cancelling the non-event. It is not difficult to explain this to the craftsmen. They have been through it all these years and they know it all.
I am one of the few who chose this path in life. I am definitely happy doing what I do, but I will not be able to sustain this if there is no demand. A business is a business afterall. Unlike the craftsmen, I have a couple of good academic degress and I can go back to the corporate world. I have an alternate livelihood. Hope that never happens, cos I will miss the ‘chai at the highway dhaba’!