India’s economy struggled to breathe; with rising unemployment, inflation, and decreasing growth rate, the COVID-19 led lockdown was just icing on the cake. Many businesses saw a massive amount of loss at managerial as well as operational levels. Even the small businesses were forced to shut due to the lack of crisis funds. There was a prominent wave of business closure. The world had never seen anything like this, and so it wasn’t prepared for this at all. It caught us off-guard. However, amid all this chaos, some people saw an opportunity to open a new one with so many businesses closing. There was a sudden revelation to many people with entrepreneurship abilities to do something out of the box, to do something unconventional.
The COVID lockdown led many people to open their new business ventures out of their homes. These newbie entrepreneurs transformed their hobbies into potential business. They proved that passion, dedication, talent, and hard work with a little bit of courage and risk-taking factors are the perfect recipe for a successful business. It takes a lot of courage for someone to step out of their comfort zone and do something with a tiny hope to generate money and subsequently also to give a boost to entrepreneurship.
Just like this, a girl named Mehak Parvez from Kashmir had a sudden stroke of revelation while she was scrolling through Instagram. She said with a smile on her face, “On one bright sunny morning, I woke up and grabbed my phone to open Instagram, where I found dazzling photos of candles. I was so inspired that I quickly decided to do candle business in Kashmir.” And in this way, during the COVID lockdown, a twenty-five-year-old graduate Mehak Parvez of Kashmir, launched her own business adventure by designing, making, and customising candles.
Emerging from a small area named Elahi Bagh of Srinagar, she says that she has always been fond of candles and the candle lighting culture since childhood. Mehak stresses that the candle lighting culture is now slowly vanishing from the surface of the earth. Candles not only exhibit light but are also capable of lifting everybody’s mood. She named her business ‘Shamaaque by Mehak’, which means candles or a Diya.
Even though her candle business is only eight months old, she claims to have received a great response, and people are buying candles from her from various places. She even makes customized decorative candles of vivid colours, which she claims are very popular among her customers. She said, “I started this business last month only, but I have received compliments and appreciation all across. On average, I am getting 3-4 orders per day which I think is not bad as a beginner. The good thing is that people are ordering different colours and designs of candles on festivals, wedding ceremonies and birthdays.”
She has started this business not just with a view of earning money, which is the primary reason why people get into business, but she also wants to revive the candle lighting culture. She stresses that people need to understand the importance of candles. We probably use candles during a power outage, but candles have a lot more to them than just burning and illuminating light. People should keep candles at their home in order to elevate the mood and atmosphere of the house and the people living in it.
The most significant factor affecting Mehak’s business is the lack of a high-speed internet facility in her area. She lamented that on just 2G internet service, she could not upload high definition content of candles. As most of her customers are from the internet, she has to put up pictures of her products online.
She asserts that “Within eight months, I have managed to get more than 1400 Instagram followers, but I cannot upload quality content on it due to lack of 4G internet service. It is frustrating to upload photos and videos of candles on Instagram on 2G mode. But I try my best to show people newly designed candles in order to attract and motivate them.” Her Instagram business handle’s ID is “Shamaaque_by_mehak”.
Mehak, who is actually an engineering student at SSM College, said that she is aiming to make this candle business her sole career; she affirms that “Since not a lot of people are doing candle business, therefore, I am eager to take this business forward to bring loads of candle variations.”
Striving to bring candle culture back to life in Kashmir, she said, “Outside Kashmir many people use candles frequently, but here people do not even know the use of candles beyond lighting. But now I hope I will be able to show people dynamic colours of candles, multiple designs, customization of candles.”
“I invested almost Rs 40,000 in my candle business. But the status of candle culture here is so poor that I could not find a single item and had to import tools, wax and other material from outside of Jammu and Kashmir,” said Mehak, who is currently running the business with the help of her elder brother Sibtan Mir.
Mehak Parvez claims that most of the orders she receives are from her social media account. She then prepares the orders and delivers them through cash on delivery or advance payment mode.
During an event which was organised by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation Limited (JKTDC) for newly emerged female entrepreneurs in Srinagar, Mehak’s candle making business was highly applauded by the tourism officials in the administration. She had displayed a variety of candles in her stall and received a lot of impressed eyes from the officials in the administration. Mehak stated, “They appreciated my work and supported me for doing this business.”
Mehak Parvez is currently running her light business at home and aims to expand her business and alongside revive the candle culture not only in Kashmir but all around the world. She is confident and very ambitious about her venture.