Some of us go a whole lifetime before we know for sure what our true purpose, passion and calling in life is. Devika Gurung from Namthang, Sikkim is one of the lucky ones who found that early, in her 20s. She uses her skills of traditional knitting and weaving, that were taught to her by her mother and grandma to empower less priviledged women in her homestate. Read to know more about this lovely soul.
We are happy to speak with Devika Gurung from Sikkim and founder of “Fidgety Fingers”- a project that empowers local women by teaching them traditional arts and crafts such as knitting and crochet. She talks to R&L about the struggles she goes through in search of her purpose in life.
Hello Devika! Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from and what you do.
Hi, my name is Devika Gurung and I’m 30 years old. I am from Namthang of south Sikkim but I currently live in Gangtok. I was born and raised in Sikkim with big expectations from my family to become a doctor or an engineer. But my interest was always in arts and crafts. After I finished school, instead of pursuing a medical degree I opted for a Diploma course in photography. I soon realised that photography was just a hobby; it was not my passion and I dropped the course during my third year. I then joined a BPO to earn a livelihood. But, deep down I knew that it wasn’t my real calling. I then quit and returned to Gangtok, jobless and with no professional degree.
During this process of searching for my life’s purpose, my love for writing got me a job in a local media house in Gangtok. I met many people there and learnt about several issues prevalent in our society, especially those that women are faced with. It was then that I knew that I wanted to channel my love for art and crafts to help society. So I started to involve myself in fibre arts like knitting, crochet and needlework. Finally in 2015, after working in the media house for four years, I decided to combine my passion and purpose by starting Fidgety Fingers.
Cute little bee shaped lollipop crochets by Fidgety Fingers.
Tell us more about your social venture “Fidgety Fingers”.
Fidgety Fingers is a social entrepreneurial project based in Sikkim (India) which I launched in September, 2015. The project has two primary objectives: first, it is to empower under-priviledged women financially and socially by creating a sustainable source of livelihood for them. Second is to reintroduce dissappearing forms of art such as – traditional knitting, crochet and needle work.
A peek into the Fidgety Fingers workshop.
Colourful crochet dolls by Fidgety Fingers.
How have your roots and upbringing influenced your work?
I grew up in the Himalayan region where every household still practices traditional fibre arts and crafts. I got the opportunity to learn the basics of knitting, crotchet, needlework and weaving from my grandmother and mother at a very young age. Moreover, the Gurung community, which I belong to, are traditionally shepherds and weavers.
At Fidgety Fingers, we use the traditional techniques of fibre crafts in our products. We also knit, crochet and embroider traditional patterns and motifs by hand, all of which were originally created by weaving.
Crochet doll in traditional Sikkimese attire by Fidgety Fingers.
Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur? How did you come up with the idea for your venture?
Growing up, I was unsure about my future. The only thing I was sure of was that I would never settle for a government job. Working in the government sector was never my choice.
I have always wanted to be an artist and I used to call myself an artist more than an entrepreneur – for me, it was not pre-planned. But the moment I discovered my passion and purpose in life, I realised that this was the path for me.
The ever-smiling Devika poses for a photo whilst knitting a Sikkimese doll.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your journey so far? Also tell us about some key things that you have learned along the way.
Handwork takes a lot of commitment and patience. It’s definitely not easy money! So, trying to convince women to take part in the project has been a major challenge to me. This is because they find the training sessions very lengthy and difficult.
The harworking and inspiring team of ladies at Fidgety Fingers.
Ever since I started my project, I’ve tried to pick something to learn from the many people I meet. Especially the women I work with – they have taught me a lot about life skills. Despite facing issues in every aspect of their lives, they are positive and work so hard with smiles across their faces. These women are my everyday heroes.
Indian music legend, AR Rahman vists the Fidgety Fingers stall at a local street market.
What are some of the products that you sell?
Fidgety Fingers sells handmade products which are made by using traditiona crafts of knittng, crochet and needle work with a twist of ethnic colour combinations and designs. Our products feature an array of accessories, home decor items, toys, bolls, souvenirs and apparel for all age groups.
Our products are available on order through on our social media pages and our prices range from Rs 10/- and goes up till Rs. 5,000/- depending on the product.
Hand knitted colourful cusion covers by Fidgety Fingers.
Hand crocheted booties for toddlers by Fidgety Fingers.
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