Age is just a number. How many times have you said that? How many times have you really meant that? Read on, and you will actually believe that. Meet Latika Chakravorty, all of 91, and an entrepreneur who not just stitches potli bags from old saris and dupattas, but retails them too at her very own website!
Her three-year-old online portal latikasbags.com has customers not just from India, but abroad as well, all hankering for her home-sewn ware. Every potli that you see here is entirely her handiwork from start to finish—from the designing to the stitching, she does it all by herself. What’s more, each potli even has a name and a story behind it.
But first, let’s start from the beginning. Sewing has always been Latika’s favourite pastime, and she would stitch clothes for her three children when they were young. Once they grew up, she took to making dolls out of old fabrics that would otherwise have been discarded. Then, some four years ago, she started making potlis, using her old saris and kurtas, and gifting them to friends and family.
So, how did this become a business, then? It wasn’t exactly a decision that Latika took, recalls her son, Capt (retd.) Raj Chakrabarty, with whom we interacted over email. His son, Joy, was on a short visit to India from Germany. “He noticed the work that she was quietly doing to make potli bags to gift to the family members coming for a get-together. Joy is from the media and felt this activity should be taken to a wider group using online tools,” says Raj. So he created the website for his granny in the short time that he was here.
But even he didn’t realise the overwhelming response it would get, from places as far as Oman and Germany as well. Granny was, suddenly, all the rage. All the online tools website, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter—are looked after by Joy. At home, Raj and his wife Sumita help with the backoffice stuff like packing, dispatch, inventory, handling calls and emails. Latika only concentrates on making the bags, 300 of them thus far, all on her trusty Usha sewing machine, her constant companion for the last 64 years!
Age has, however, slowed her down. Earlier, she would make two bags a day, now its one bag in two days. But then, as she says, “Age is not a bar to do something good. Whatever work that comes to your hand, do it with goodness. It will give you peace of mind.”
“Age is not a bar to do something good. Whatever work that comes to your hand, do it with goodness.” Latika Chakravorty