‘You are never too old or too young to dream’, my mother taught this to me at a very young age when I didn’t quite have enough grey hair on my head to comprehend the meaning of that phrase. But in the course of my growing up years, I learnt what it truly means through her outlook towards life.
From the stories I have heard about her adolescent years and as a young adult, I gathered that she has always been a very curious and eager person. When I cribbed to her about my first disastrous ‘roti’ making experience, she assured me that I will get better. She said that she learnt it as a child by asking her mother to keep some extra dough for her in the end, enough for one ‘roti’ and that is how she mastered the art of roti-making, little by little. She learnt sewing, stitching, knitting, putting buttons on her brothers’ shirts, all the same way. She would gather the leftover wool strands from her mother, tie them together and make a single long strand of wool and use two sticks to learn knitting.
As she stepped into her conjugal life, things got a little more challenging. She had a huge family to take care of, along with household work. However despite all the work that came her way, she didn’t stop.
Along with being a wonderful cook, she began to learn bandhni and batik, embroidery, block printing and painting on sarees. She started hosting exhibitions with her teammates to display and sell the artworks. The house would often smell of raw wax from the dye of batik and I remember not being fond of that smell. Oh, I was quite a troublesome kid. Coming back from school, had I not got the sight of my mother, I used to throw a lot of tantrums. What I perhaps thought was love and attachment, is quite embarrassing, and can admittedly be called annoying now. So well, with housework, two kids and an entire family to take care of, she gradually stopped pursuing those dreams. But she continued living them through colorful sweaters that she would knit for us and helping with our SUPW homework from school. I recall, at the age of thirteen, right before the Christmas party in school, bandanas were in trend. I didn’t know where to buy them from so she knitted three of those for me. The entire school was in awe. But well, apart from the joyous thank you’s and zealous hugs, not much appreciation came her way, and maybe she wasn’t looking for much too. Perhaps she just wanted an outlet to be able to pursue her hobbies amidst the monotony of life.
Gradually, my sister and I grew up and we moved to different cities to pursue higher education. Suddenly she had a lot of time on her hands. From being the lady of the house running from six till midnight, she was beginning to find some time for herself again. So she decided to press on the rewind button and bring back her dreams that had been lying unattended for a long time. And that is when Amrapali was born. She turned our drawing room into a makeshift store and that’s how she started Amrapali. She started sourcing different sarees from weavers of small villages, self-painted and embroidered on some of them and started selling her curated pieces. My sister and I whole-heartedly supported her in this new quest but since we were far away from home, she singlehandedly managed it all. It was only her determination and dedication that led to the onset of Amrapali. Admittedly, there were not a lot of customers to begin with; not to mention the multiple challenges that came along. Back then, people were not exposed much to the idea of purchasing from small, home-grown businesses. That apart, not many people knew about it in the first place and on most days there were no customers at all. The location of our house being in a quiet cul-de-sac, didn't aid much in the process too. But she kept pursuing, keeping a positive outlook and slowly by slowly started dreaming for bigger things.
It was eventually at the age of fifty; she took a space on the main road of our small town Chandannagar in West Bengal and opened a four walled boutique. ‘Amrapali Boutique’ written in red block letters, she finally saw her vision coming to life.
Naturally, she gave it her all. Right from sourcing, marketing, accounting– she was doing it all by herself with the help of four employees, who have now become family. Gradually it started receiving appreciation from across and became the talk of the town. Little joys, little victories and little bits of acknowledgement used to make her immensely happy. She worked all day, managing home and business meticulously, shifting between her identities of that of a mother, wife, an entrepreneur and the woman of the house at ease. Slowly my sister and I joined in. Her energy was too infectious to not catch onto and perhaps that is what made us fall in love with sarees and the art of selling them. We took Amrapali online, first on Instagram and then with all the love and appreciation we received worldwide, together we dared to dream bigger as we opened our website on 15th August 2019. Since then it has been an overwhelming journey. Today, Amrapali Boutique is an online store and a humble, home-grown store tucked away in the heart of West-Bengal, where we celebrate handloom in all its glory while creating and curating finest hand-crafted collections that capture the spirit and essence of India.
At present, my sister and I manage the online website while she continues to manage the store. We all live in different parts of the country but one thing that brings us together is our collective love for Amrapali and sarees.
Our mother, in her free time, goes through all the comments and messages on social media and just like us, her heart beams with joy each time one of you compliment us and our collection, handcrafted with love. And well, even at this age - after accomplishing so much- her curiosity and eagerness haven’t come to a stop. She now wants to enroll herself into a jewelry course, she told me over a call last day.
Well, they don’t make a lot like her in the universe. There are very few of them. And I’m glad I have one such gem in my life and that too as my mother.
So, this is her. The boss woman, the mother, the lady who will always be the sole inspiration behind Amrapali.
So endearing and inspiring !!! My love and regards to Kakima. Hardwork, determination and having two lovely daughters pays !! The cherry on the top …reading ‘SUPW’ and not something like ‘school craft’ after such a long time. That one word took me back to the school days and I saw my mother bent over my ‘SUPW’ work. Thanks Shramona for this beautiful blog !!
Inspiring story. Dreams..true ones…never leave you…and keep inspiring you to chase them..build them..they might go below in priority for family but your story reinforces that you must never leave your dreams.
Mothers are dauntless and extremely inspirational as is. It sounds almost like a fairy tale as to how she never let her dreams really die. Otherwise. The real world has no place for magic realism.Please tell her that I for one, am very happy with my first purchase. Waiting for the second order to reach me.
Great job, kakima!
Such a heartwarming story. I wish all of you ladies good luck and a long happy life together ❤️
Such a inspiring story
Such an inspiring story.. i always used wonder how you came into this and how you have such an adorable collection of sarees. Your mother gave life to her dream and she inspires every one who read this. Keep going stay blessed. Lots of love and care.. ♡♡
Lovely story, beautifully told. More power to your mom! And best wishes to you all for your brand and the blog!
This post made my day.. Very inspiring ❤🙏
I love the way of thinks..age is just a number.
Truly inspiring story behind Amrapali … Lots of love and respect to your mother. Good that you have penned her journey it will be great inspiration to many who are aspiring to achieve on their own.
I appreciate ur mother work,dreams and yes her hard work from my bottom of my heart…i wish ur boutique going n growing in tje whole world….and i’m eagarly waiting that day i shoping in ur amrapali…tab tak k liye gudluck….
So that’s what a Superwoman in real life is !!!
Awestruck!! What an inspiring story. I really appreciate your mother’s determination to pursue her passion. Need to learn a lot from her.
Lovely story….you are the real life influencers! Lots of love and warm wishes.. may your business grow more…..