A New Path Blazes A New Trail.
Srinagar Woman Manufactures And Sells Sanitary Napkins, Wants to Boost Awareness On Menstrual Health.
A Srinagar woman’s aspiration to be an entrepreneur has made her choose an unusual line of business. Rabiya Kawoosa, who hails from Soura in Srinagar district, is the founder of Sisters Choice Sanitary Pads. Rabiya runs the online business of the delivery of sanitary napkins.
Rabiya studied from Islamia College in Hawal, Srinagar. She is also engaged with a private job. Rabiya is the Center Incharge at Harmukh Khadi at Ellahibagh in Buchpora, Srinagar, and affiliated with the Jammu and Kashmir Khadi Village and Industries Board.
Rabiya’s father Mohd Ashraf Khan drives an autorickshaw. Rabiya says that her father has worked hard for years to ensure that his children get a good education. Courtesy his untiring and consistent efforts, she and her three siblings are all well-educated.
Since her childhood, Rabiya wanted to be an entrepreneur. She also wanted to be engaged with something that would help people. In 2018, she started her small business venture delivering sanitary napkins. Rabiya admits that working alone isn’t easy. “Every entrepreneur has to deal with a unique set of circumstances and factors that are specific to their business. But when everything around seems dark and discouraging and the going gets tough, the tough get going,” says the brave woman.
Studies of successful entrepreneurs the world over have revealed that one does not create the perfect business in the first attempt. It takes many years of hit and trial for an entrepreneur to find the business that becomes a success story. But through it all, what matters most is perseverance and steadfastness.
“I know it’s tough to nail down a plan, especially if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. I’m the queen of changing my mind every day. I have many things in the queue like handmade chocolates, handmade soap and many more things,” says the feisty Rabiya.
How She Got This Idea
Rabiya says that she got the idea of starting her own business delivering sanitary napkins following a personal experience. “Once during my menstrual cycle, I went to a nearby store for sanitary napkins. First I hesitated to ask the owner of the store about the product, and also about its quality. Then I gathered courage and asked the owner of the store. He could not answer my question. He said that all the girls are purchasing it, so hopefully it’s a good product. That thing stuck in my mind. That the shopkeeper had no idea of the quality of the product he was selling, and girls were purchasing it without being aware of the quality. I realized that even though women and girls need this product regularly, they are shy to talk about the kind of product they should use. They are also shy regarding the usage of sanitary napkins. But this is not right. When a woman or a girl is paying for a product, she deserves to know the quality of the product she is using.”
Rabiya thought that other girls and women would be facing the same confusion. This made her decide that she would take up the supply of sanitary napkins of a good quality. She believed that creating awareness regarding the use of the product would also be a great step towards women empowerment.
Rabiya often visits far-flung areas of Kashmir where girls may not have access to good quality sanitary napkins. She wants to make more and more girls and women aware of the product. She asks customers for their feedback, and also asks of ways in which the product can be made better. “I want to devote myself to the welfare of the poor and the needy. I always try to make people aware on social media about good life habits like yoga and nutritious diet so that they are able to improve their health,” says Rabiya.
Small Manufacturing Plant
The young entrepreneur set up her own manufacturing unit at Mattan in South Kashmir. Due to the restraints during the pandemic period, she had to shift it to Delhi. Now Rabiya is again planning to revive the manufacturing in Srinagar.
Rabiya says that at their manufacturing unit, bamboo cotton is used for the sanitary napkins, since it is a superior quality material. She says that she wants to invite more and more girls and women to visit their manufacturing unit so that they are aware of what product they are using, and whether the right standards have been adopted for its manufacturing.
Now Rabiya gets orders for sanitary napkins from departmental stores, wholesale stores, boutiques, etc. They launched their website last year so that buyers can purchase the product online too.
‘I Want My Product To Be My Identity’
Rabiya says that while she has committed herself to make sanitary napkins of high quality, they do not want to try new things and give a chance to local high-quality products. Rabiya says it is matter of concern that instead of giving a chance to new quality products in the market, many women want to use those products which have high marketing, irrespective of what product is made of. “They will come to know the quality of our product only if they use it. We will continue to reach out to them. We are aware that success comes with time,” says Rabiya.
Bouquets and Brickbats
Rabiya says that she is highly conscious of whatever she posts on social media. “I always think over my posts. I know that people are quick to troll me because I am in the business of making and selling sanitary napkins. Sometimes people comment in a very negative way, and that hurts me. Once a young man trolled me and commented, “Show me how to use the sanitary napkins on video call.” At times I get discouraged by such ugly messages. Such messages stop me from going forward. But I draw strength from the appreciation that I get. Messages like “Hello sister, appreciation to you.” These kind of messages boost my confidence and give me the power to go ahead. When I know that someone is genuinely asking me some questions, I answer them honestly. If girls and women become conscious about menstrual hygiene, I will consider that 90 per cent of my work is done,” highlights Rabiya.