Clare Boothe Luce said,
“A woman’s best protection is a little money of her own.”
In our #WisdomWednesday blog focusing on the #WonderWomen segment, we bring to you a woman who similarly learned the value of financial independence at a very young age. Meet, Crafter and Creative Entrepreneur, Muthupriya Maniraj, who is the founder of BrownGirl Crafts and BrownGirl Unwraps. Besides this, she also does a full-time job. How and when did she start this venture and how does she manage time between a job and a business? Let’s find out in her own words.
“My official name is Muthupriya Maniraj, but most people know me as Priya Maniraj. I am a self-taught crafter and the founder, owner and creator of BrownGirl Crafts and BrownGirl Unwraps. Also, along with my passion for crafting I have a full-time job as a Junior Executive Tech-Support at a Food Processing Company in Mumbai. Crafting and making handmade gifts were something I never thought I would end up falling in love with. You can call this a miracle.
So, I had made a small sample of explosion box during my summer break in my degree college. Post this, a friend of mine asked me if I could help her with a similar gift, and then that one creation turned to 81 today with lots of learning and patience. I would like to confess here that I underwent depression due to personal problems. During this time, crafting was an escape and strength that got me back to being the cheerful person that I am today.
I had a creative inclination since I was a kid but learning to make gifts for selling is another ball game entirely as I had to learn all the techniques of how to make the products, what kind of materials to use, the time-money balance, pricing and marketing my products, etc all on my own. Balancing my daily commute time, studies and crafts, was initially a struggle to cope up with and once I got my job, it took me nearly 2-3 months to settle down into a routine of balancing it all. When I started in 2017, I received 5 orders and in 2018, which was my final year in degree college, I had to give up on crafts to give my full attention to studies, which majorly consisted of the final year thesis and exams.
During this year, I could manage to complete only one order and almost stopped post that. My dad had lost his job at the same time. This brought on a financial crisis on the family and crafting became a way for me to manage my basic requirements of travelling and college. Also, exploring social media made me realize how many amazing creators were already out there. These creators were making amazing content and I felt maybe this is not my ally. But you know God never leaves the one who is lost and has missed the direction. I felt something was missing in my life and those craft materials lying in my shelf gave me a hope that no matter what, I’ll not give up.
So, I scheduled my day, learnt new skills and 2019 welcomed me with more than 80 orders. Today when I look back at that time, it makes me feel proud that I didn’t give up despite not being a professional. My family, best friends and my classmates never missed any opportunity to support and motivate me. Also, my social media skills, marketing skills and urge to learn something new at every chance, made me and my crafts move towards new designs, fresh ideas and creative content at a price which is feasible for someone’s pocket money savings, to someone’s planned surprise party. My God is the ultimate motivation for me because he never let my prayers go in vain. His gift, my family is my ultimate support and motivation and my best friends who are my biggest critics as well as strongest motivators. My inner happiness, the feedback I receive, and the customer’s smiles too, motivate me every day to grow my little business little by little.
As a girl child in my family, I also want to prove to my extended family that I am not any lesser than the boys. To be honest, my journey hasn’t been that easy but its surely been a journey worth experiencing. I never thought I’ll be able to manage this mini business alongside my full-time work. I am so happy to help my family financially because we really had hard times to even fulfil our monthly grocery needs at a certain point when my father lost his job. I turned into more of a responsible woman every day and someone who can multitask efficiently. As I make handmade gifts, it requires a lot of time and effort. So, because of my full- time job I sometimes don’t find it easy to make these.
Hence, I have planned for gifts that fall under the customizable, jewellery and accessories category. I also plan on reselling products at an affordable price which will help the one who creates to sell and set an online base for their products. This will help all our customers get a wide variety of gifting options too. BrownGirl Unwraps is the current page I have launched on this women’s day and am currently working on it.
Also, if God’s grace is on me, I am planning to expand my team from one to 5 and instead of reselling, we will be aiming at creating our own environmentally as well as budget friendly gifting options. Also, we are working on our website and planning to launch our YouTube channel which will be out very soon!My crafting and other personal as well as professional life experiences have taught me that,
“Patience and openness to learning are key aspects before setting up one’s own business.”
I also learnt that,
“It is okay to go slow and build up on quality rather than making haste and delivering something which isn’t all that special.”
I learnt how to design and use colors as well as patterns. Because I have a coral draw and DTP course degree, this helped me in designing my logo. Learn to manage my finances is also something I owe to my crafts because it has taught me how to invest, negotiate, save and spend.
I would advice everyone out there to,
“Practice every day and follow your dreams no matter how busy life gets.”
But the most important thing is that
“One needs to treat the customers as friends for the relation last longer and to build a trust”
“One shouldn’t give up by just seeing the dark clouds. Because this can stop you from experiencing the bright moon hidden just behind that darkness.”
I would like to thank A Rustic Mind for including me in such a beautiful segment. Also, if anyone wants help in setting up their crafting business or if they want to be a part of our crafting family, they can send us an mail at email@example.com or DM us on our Instagram page.”
To drop in a message to Priya, check out her amazing crafts, inquire about the handmade gifts she provides under her creative venture, and to place an order (or more) through her page, follow the links below:
- Instagram handle of BrownGirl Crafts
- Instagram handle of BrownGirl Unwraps
- Facebook page of BrownGirl Crafts
Other personal and professional social media handles
Priya’s work through her page BrownGirl Crafts has been featured on another Instagram page where various handmade artists are promoted and featured. You can check this feature through link below:
BrownGirl Crafts is currently looking for creative helping hands. They’re also willing to teach eager learners about crafting and gift making. So anyone who wants help in setting-up a crafting business or wants to be a part of the crafting family of BrownGirl Crafts can send them a mail at:
- Mail ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
- DM them on their Instagram page (BrownGirl Crafts or BrownGirl Unwraps)
They’re soon planning on starting a Pinterest page and a YouTube channel too. So do keep a tab on their Instagram and Facebook pages to know when these are launched.