Village near Sangrur (Punjab, India) – 2017
She was excited when her father gifted her a smartphone. The same week, she had received a Phulkari award at the local *Krishi Vigyaan Kendra and had just passed her high school exams. She was so excited. Life couldn’t be more beautiful.
Joti's mother is part of a Phulkari group and with her dad’s permission and encouragement, she finally has her own Bank Khata Number now!
She dreams of having her own Designer Label one day. "Punjabi and Hindi moviestars wear fusion clothing all the time…Long Indian Kurtis (shirts) with denims and those gorgeous Punjabi Juttis (shoes)! She wants to make Phulkari ensembles, Phulkari bags, Phulkari juttis (shoes), Phulkari scarves…", her wish-list is endless. And, Pinterest feeds it all – there are so many Boutique owners already running their own stores. "Hmmm…for that", she tells herself, "I will definitely need more time and investment".
Today, she declared to herself, she was going to be excited about her smartphone and install WhatsApp – where she could share her motifs and embroidery with her friends.
Her motifs weren’t all traditional. She knew clients loved variety and she would add her own little signature to every piece she made. So far, she was working with her mother’s Self Help Group and earning for every border she embroidered on a dupatta (scarf) or a Punjabi suit-piece. She had to be patient, her mother advised her, and start small and save money for her education. A fashion design diploma didn’t come cheap and that too in the big city.
“I’ll get there Ma, I’ll definitely get there”, she says, as she set her phone wallpaper to the image of the latest Phulkari flowers she just embroidered, “I’m just getting started!”
*Krishi Vigyaan Kendras are a type of Rural Resource Center supported by State Agricultural Universities in India