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One woman wanted to help another woman to earn the day’s bread and realize her worth in the society. Today, that woman helps hundred more women live a respectful life and contribute to the society. Here’s an inspiring story of Ms. Chinny Swamy, Founder and CEO of Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti.
Meet the Quilting Queen of Purkal
About 12 years ago, in 2003, Chinny and Swamy, Chinny’s husband, thought of shifting to a place surrounded by snow-clad mountains, close to nature, some place like the foothills of Himalayas. The couple chose to move to the pristine Purkal, a humble village- dotted somewhere between Dehradun and Mussorie.
An artist by profession, Chinny has practiced quilting as a hobby and, ever since she relocated to Purkal, she has been involved with providing the women of this community income earning opportunities through the creation and sale of quilted and appliqué products. She initiated this programme because she wanted to help one woman develop her quilting skills in order to improve her family’s quality of life; the organisation now has over 125 women working in its production facility.
How Purkal is Quilting Hope
Purkal is a small cold mountain village; its inhabitants, a mere 5000. Here, most of the families lacked basic education and skills and suffered from various cultural and social issues like untouchability and inequality, which kept them locked in a continuous cycle of poverty. Chinny definitely wanted to change this, and opted to contribute to the society by empowering women and making them independent, and gain respect in the society, she founded the Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti.
At Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti, the women work in different interdependent self-help groups to produce beautiful patch work and appliqué products that help them earn an income. The Organisation also runs childhood development centre called Shishu Shakti for the betterment of kids.
Chinny today proudly says, “PSSS is an organisation for empowering the women of Purkal. We are now a registered non-profit organisation, empowering women to produce textile products such as quilts, cushion covers, bags, stoles, and other accessories. Our signature product is the patchwork and appliqué quilts”. Chinny, then (in 2003, when she founded PSSS), had one woman, with whom she began quilting, now PSSS has grown into a team of over 125 women. This includes women who make the products, the designers, accounts manager, purchase and marketing manager, store manager, office assistant, supervisor, quality controllers, trainers, and more.
What Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti Does
PSSS inspires, and ignites entrepreneurial skills in women, so that they can manage a business and maximize their income. Slowly and steadily PSSS, the small initiative turned into a self- help organisation empowering women of this village, and helping them find independence, and respect in the society. The programme aims at upgrading women artisans and helping them become part of the management team, ultimately helping them work and earn better.
Slowly, over the years, the world is introduced to quilts made by the women of Purkal. PSSS retails its products through their shop at the women centre in Purkal, their online store, and at exhibitions across India. They now, also have retail partners in the US and the UK.
Let’s Support the Endeavour
What inspires us in the story of PSSS is how one dream, one seed of thought, if nurtured well, can turn into an innovative idea, and ultimately can bring desired change in the society. The women of Purkal are striving everyday to become better entrepreneurs. Apart from Chinny, there is a stream of volunteers from all over the world who lend their expertise in skill development, marketing, and retailing for no additional cost. Let’s volunteer, in whatever way we can, let’s get some movement happening and let’s make lives in Purkal a little more sustainable.
A sneak peek into PSSS’s products on Red Polka–