Srinagar: When Kashmir was reeling under lockdown, 26-year-old Sauliha Dijoo was dabbling with paper art to create a new template for business.
Two years later, her tentativeness has turned into a steadier but surefooted march towards building a successful business.
Presently, Sauliha is garnering attention on Instagram with her start-up called “Paper Puddle” offering a range of products. It includes customized Nikahnama to 3D Art to Ring platter to logos to props to floral plaques to photo frames—all from paper.
She sold the first one to her maternal uncle and got 10 more orders from the family. Soon, word-of-mouth and the internet helped secure more demand for her craft. In the past two years, she has designed and sold more than 400 hand-crafted products.
“It all started during the dreary lockdown days of 2019. I further pursued this in the pandemic-induced lockdown. My zest for art and design inspired me to religiously follow an art page on Instagram. I picked up the tools and began my paper puddle journey from there,” she said, who has done her B.Tech from Islamic University, Awantipora.
However, she faced some hiccups at the beginning which she overcame with her grit and determination. “The availability of materials in Kashmir is a major obstacle. Getting the tools like detailed knives, printed sheets, and cutting mats for papercraft remains a challenge. So, I had to get them from outside to satisfy the requirements of my work,” she said.
Today, her Instagram page stares with more than 2000 followers and offers delivery all over Kashmir within 12-15 days. Currently, she receives around 10-15 orders per week with products priced between Rs 1000-2000.
“My most popular product has remained customized Nikhanama so far. It is within a box with acrylic letters, pens, and floral décor. The most special part about it is the names written in acrylic. It is done on mirror work with laser cutting making it unique. I have received a lot of orders for it,” she said.
In the future, Sauliha wants to start a collective, a community of artists that will exhibit the different talents of women.
“Many women feel caged as they cannot express their creativity. I want to support them by giving them space and the opportunity to grow,” she added.