Kanchan became an entrepreneur when most people plan to retire. She is a 67-year-old woman from Jharkhand who is trying her best to revive the dying artform .i.e crochet.
Kanchan Bhadani’s ‘Loophoop’ firm has sold over 3,000 hand crochet toys since its debut in 2021. She also offers free training to tribal community females and homemakers in order to help them earn a living.
She has taught crochet to over 50 tribal women so far. Most of these people collaborate with her to create toys for the company.
Kanchan grew up in Kolkata, watching her grandmother and aunts make crochet toys and tablecloths. “All the ladies around me were aware of the technique, even if they didn’t utilise it as frequently as I did. “Every girl was taught to stitch, weave, and crochet back then,” she recalls.
Kanchan, like her aunts and grandmothers, learned the skill. “I would watch them crochet items, and then we were given special training in school to learn the art.” “I always enjoyed doing that and continued to practise,” she adds, adding that she married and relocated to Jhumri Telaiya in Jharkhand in 1982.
“I couldn’t continue my education after passing my intermediate exams because I was married and had to move cities.” “However, I kept my crocheting passion alive and didn’t stop practising,” she explains.
While she was passionate about her painting, something else worried her and evolved into a new interest for her. “Since moving to Jhumri Telaiya, I’ve met a lot of tribal women who are illiterate.” They could only work in the mines, which paid only a daily rate, and the money was insufficient,” she adds.
Kanchan was often thinking of ways she might make a meaningful impact in the lives of these women when she saw them suffer. “I knew I wanted to help them but didn’t know how,” she says.
She believes that as a housewife, her desire of doing something for tribal women got lost in the shuffle. “Raising three children and running a household kept me very busy for many years.” For a long period, I was unable to concentrate on my goals in social work. At the time, all I wanted to do was focus on my children and raise them well. “However, as they grew older and found their feet in life, my desire to pursue my passion returned,” she recalls.
While she would occasionally teach crochet workshops to enthusiastic women, she was mostly a homemaker…until 2021.
“By 2021, all three of my children would be adults, and I would be free of obligations.” I’d taught many young girls and ladies to crochet, so I thought I’d do something similar. “I got the idea for LoopHoop with the help of my children in 2021,” she explains.
“We knew it would be easy to find karigar (workers) in Jhumri Telaiya because there were quite a few tribal women who were housewives and would love to have some financial support,” she explains.
“My children assisted me in setting up the LoopHoop website and social media,” Kanchan explains.
“I hire homemakers and girls from tribal communities and teach them how to crochet for free,” she explains about her business. The majority of them are quick learners who take their work seriously.”
We ask them to bring the wool, design, and crochet needles, and work on the project at their leisure at home. This makes the position more appealing to them.”
So far, she has educated approximately 50 native women. “Although there are no prerequisites for learning to crochet, most people take about 10-15 days to learn the basics.” Furthermore, if they continue to practise, they will become more proficient. Currently, 25 of the 50 people work with us on a regular basis. They remove our belongings and return with toys,” she explains.
Kanchan’s employees are compensated for the things they create. “On average, if they work 2-3 hours per day,” she explains, “they make more than Rs 5,000 in a month.”
Sonali, 21, has been a member of Kanchan’s squad for about two years. In a month, she creates more than 30 toys. “I took two weeks of training and learned it quickly.” Kanchan ma’am assigns us tasks. We merely need to gather the supplies and deliver the finished products to her. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence and financial stability as a result of this work,” she says.
“With the money I earn, I was able to pay my tuition fees for college with the same money. I make around Rs 5,000 a month by working only for a few hours a day. The flexibility in work hours helps to earn while I study,” she adds.
Kanchan creates a wide range of soft toys, including octopuses, dolls, caterpillars, elephants, and so on. So far, she has sold almost 3,000 toys. The products may be purchased through their official website, Instagram profile, and marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon. The company currently earns more than Rs 14 lakh per year in revenue.
“I also make an effort not to waste any materials.” “With whatever wool is left over, we make some other toys so that there is no waste,” she says.
“I loved the quality of the product,” says Sunitha, who ordered a doll and a turtle for her child from LoopHoop. The fact that they are handmade adds to the product’s worth. “My toddler enjoys playing with it,” she says.
I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as an appropriate age to begin anything or pursue a dream. So I aim to continue trying to better the lives of these tribal women..” says Kanchan proudly