“My girls are the real champions,” says the gutsy entrepreneur and mother of two, Sunehra Koshy. Having dabbled with paper crafts as a hobby after she left her banking career upon motherhood, Sunehra turned her creativity into a business opportunity. From a one-woman army operating out of her dining room table to handling an all-women team of 15 and a crafts store in a Bangalore mall, she has come a long way.
Sunehra used to pursue her hobby of paper crafting after her children had been put to bed, often crafting till the wee hours of the morning. She used to mainly gift her creations to family and friends. But soon her home ran out of storage space, and that was when she thought of exhibiting her products. Sunehra knew she had hit upon something when her exhibition sold out.
In 2014, the arts and crafts brand, Crack of Dawn Crafts, was finally born. She started out with a lot of custom orders, children’s birthdays and anniversaries. “My brand tries to make every celebration very meaningful. That has always been the main focus of our work,” says Sunehra.
Wind beneath my wings
Sunehra’s work took off steadily, and soon she had more orders than she could handle alone. “My house help put me in touch with her young niece, and the niece brought along a cousin who needed a job,” she shares, “And pretty soon, as my order book kept expanding, so did my young team of girls!” The girls all came from underprivileged homes, and most of them had stopped studying after their 10th standard, or earier, with slim prospects of finding any meaningful employment other than domestic work.
Crack of Dawn Crafts offered them regular 9 to 5 work, which was also creatively satisfying. In addition, they were being trained in a craft that was attracting demand from the market. “I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for these women. I’m so proud of them and so grateful to them.” Each of her ‘girls’ have their own stories of neglect, abuse or discrimination. Each representing a woman’s never-say-die spirit in the face of adversity.
“The best thing to have happened to my business recently was my star performer’s return. She used to run my studio very efficiently till she left to get married. It feels great to have her back once again on my team!”
“They bring tears to my eyes with their dedication and their ownership for the business. Even after nine-hour days in the studio, and three-hour days at home for which they get overtime, they remain so enthusiastic about their work!” adds Sunehra.
There is the story of one of her workers who taught her sons back home to tie pretty bows and craft rosettes, while she prepared the family dinner. Of the lady who left home and an abusive marriage on the strength of her work as a paper crafter and the respite her workplace gave her. The young girl who paid for her own education and the family rent from her job at Sunehra’s studio. Their work mean so much to each of the craftswomen, spelling financial independence, self-confidence and self-reliance.
Soaring business prospects
Crack of Dawn Crafts began retailing online on Amazon from 2015. That was when Sunehra saw her business shoot up, and after figuring out her most popular product in 2016, the layered explosion box, there was no looking back. “The generation between 18-25 years love ordering and gifting the product among friends and family,” she says. It’s her top selling product and she sells many variations and designs of the product at various price points. Crack of Dawn Crafts also offers online shoppers scrapbooks, albums, invitations, romantic gifts and party décor, among other art and craft products.
The Valentine’s period is a peak sale season for her business, and Sunehra made Rs. 25 lakh in February 2019. That was up from Rs. 10 lakh in February 2018, which was also the peak for that fiscal. After clocking Rs. 10 lakh in 2018, Amazon promoted her business through various seller platforms and Sunehra watched her sales soar. She used to reach average sales of Rs. 7 lakh a month before that, making Rs. 10 lakh during the peak periods. Ask her what is best about her business and she turns to her team. “The best thing to have happened to my business recently was my star performer’s return. She used to run my studio very efficiently till she left to get married. It feels great to have her back once again on my team!”
We wish Sunehra and her team of feisty craftswomen the very best on their journey ahead!