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 hers in her 20s. She uses her skills in traditional knitting and weaving, which were passed down to her by her mother and grandmother, to empower underprivileged women in her home state. Let’s delve deeper into the story of this inspiring woman.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Devika Gurung, founder of “Fidgety Fingers” – a project that empowers local women in Sikkim by teaching them traditional arts and crafts such as knitting and crochet. Devika shares with us her personal journey in discovering her life’s purpose and the challenges she faced along the way.
Conversation with Devika Gurung, founder of ‘Fidgety Fingers’ – a project that empowers women in Sikkim to earn a living through art and crafts
R&L: Hi Devika! Please introduce yourself, and tell us more about your journey that led to starting your own venture in Sikkim.
Devika: Hi there! My name is Devika Gurung, and I am 30 years old. I hail from Namthang in South Sikkim, but I currently reside in Gangtok. Despite my family’s expectations for me to become a doctor or an engineer, my heart was always set on arts and crafts. After completing school, I enrolled in a Diploma course in photography but realized that it was not my true passion and dropped out in my third year. I then worked at a BPO for a while, but I felt unfulfilled and knew that it wasn’t my 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 learned 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 fiber arts like knitting, crocheting, 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.
R&:Tell us more about your social venture ‘Fidgety Fingers’
Devika: 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 underprivileged women financially and socially by creating a sustainable source of livelihood for them. The second is to reintroduce disappearing forms of art such as – traditional knitting, crochet, and needlework.
A peek into the Fidgety Fingers workshop.
Colorful crochet dolls by ‘Fidgety Fingers.’
R&L: Can you tell us how your roots and upbringing influenced your work?
Devika: I grew up in the Himalayan region where every household still practices traditional fiber 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 fiber 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.
R&L: Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Devika: 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.”
Devika knitting a Sikkimese doll.
R&L: Can you tell us about a tough moment you faced while building Fidgety Fingers, and what did you learn from it? What are some of the key takeaways you have learned during your journey so far?
Devika: One of the biggest challenges for me has been to convince women to take part in the project. Handwork requires a lot of commitment and patience, and it’s definitely not easy money
“The training sessions can be lengthy and difficult, which can be discouraging for some women. However, I have learned that by providing a supportive and encouraging environment, many women are willing to learn and take part in the project. It’s important to create a sense of community and empower these women to believe in themselves and their abilities.”
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.
Meet the amazing team of women at ‘Fidgety Fingers’, who inspire through their hard work and dedication.
Indian music legend, AR Rahman visits the ‘Fidgety Fingers’ stall at a local street market.
R&L: What are some of the products that you sell?
Devika: At Fidgety Fingers, we offer a range of handmade products that feature traditional crafts such as knitting, crochet, and needlework infused with ethnic colors and designs. We have a variety of products, including accessories, home decor items, toys, dolls, souvenirs, and apparel for all age groups.
Our products are available for order through our social media pages, and our prices range from Rs 10/- to Rs. 5,000/-, depending on the product.
Hand-knitted cushion covers by ‘Fidgety Fingers’
Hand-crocheted booties for toddlers by Fidgety Fingers.
- Meet Devika Gurung from Sikkim Who Is Using Her Passion For Arts And Crafts To Empower The Underprivileged Women Of Her Hometown - October 26, 2018
- Drone Photographer Parth Konwar from Assam Wants Us to Get Lost in the Breathtaking Landscapes of North East India - October 12, 2018
- “Makeup Gave Me Wings to Fly – Even After Losing My Sight in One Eye” Meet NYX Face Award Winner Nimshim Jajo from Manipur - October 11, 2018