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Harpreet Kaur

Artisan Organization: Harpreet Kaur

Country: India

"Hi, I'm Harpreet and I was born in Kolkata, the City of Joy. My family is actually from Delhi, but my father was working with India's Airport Authority and was posted in Kolkata when I was born. I have very fond memories of my childhood in Kolkata. We were staying in the airport colony and I had lots of friends. We would play out in the open, in the playground, and it was such good fun. When we moved to Delhi everything changed, the people, the atmosphere and the environment. At first I really missed my friends but as time went by I started making new friends – I have a friendly nature, so it wasn't difficult making new friends.

"I completed my studies in Delhi, and since I have always been fascinated by India's rich arts and crafts traditions, I decided to take a course in export management. This enabled me to get a job in a handicrafts export company, where I was exposed to a huge collection of handcrafted products – it was amazing! I fell more and more in love with the beauty of our arts and crafts. Then for the next 12 years I worked with different companies, all related to handcrafted products.

"Then I got married and left my job for few years, and during this time I realized that I wanted to be in arts and crafts, so in 2011 I started my own small accessory workshop with five or six artisans. I wanted to use my experience to create my own designs. I have never taken any designing courses but I feel hands-on experience is more valuable than any formal course. I had learned so much in my tenure as merchandiser and I felt it was a perfect moment for me to start on my own.

"To this day, my biggest inspiration has been my mother. As a child, I always admired my mother. She was great at everything she did like cooking, gardening, and beautifying the house. I always admired how she made her beautiful embroidery work. All the décor at home was always done by my mother. So, although I never did any formal designing course, I think I got it from my mother.

"Everything is done at our small workshop including hand and machine embroidery as well as stitching.

"My husband is also a big support. He looks after the financial aspect. It was surely a tough journey at the beginning, but we never gave up hope.

"Apart from our work my husband and I also help with the education of our artisans' children since most of them come from an economically weaker section. It was my husband's idea. When we asked them if their children were going to school, most of them replied they were either going to government schools or religious schools (madrasa). So we asked them if they would like to go to private English schools and they all said yes. They were really excited! Being able to support them in this way is such a great feeling!

"We feel education is the birth right of every child. And since children are the future of our nation, we should nurture them in the best possible way and what better way is there than by giving them a good education? This is what we believe in.

"And we feel that if these kids when they grow up pay forward to the society by helping more children, then out purpose in this world has been served!" "