Women in Goa, are, indeed, enterprising. And there are multiple examples of such businesswomen in every field. One such is woman is Suchita Prabhu Malkarnekar, who chose to walk an untrodden path 23 years ago, voluntarily retiring from her 17-year job in a government school to start her own business from her home in Margao. During the pandemic, when every other business was at a standstill, Suchita’s team worked day-and-night to stitch and sell over 1 lakh face masks, making use of the heaps of cotton material that she had purchased for making dresses just before the lockdown.
Suchita is the proprietor of two businesses – Tanvi Collections and Prachi Creations. Through these she generates employment for more than two dozen women. She supplies them with raw material and designs. The ready material is picked up from their homes. Suchita’s product range varies from beautiful cotton quilts to clothes for the new-born. She also sells ‘mande’ (small baby quilts) to masks, night gowns, unstitched dress materials and cotton sarees. The Goan speciality of handmade ‘shivan’ – pillow covers and embroidered bed sheets – have a demand from across the globe.
“I use good quality, pure cotton cloth material – bright colours as well as light. Our cloth comes with a guarantee. Colours don’t run or fade after washing. The material softens after every wash and becomes very smooth and cosy. That’s why my quilts and all other stuff are in demand not only in Goa, but other States and outside India too,” shares Suchita, who has been one among the top women achievers in South Goa in 2022, a decade after she received Orchid Awards in 2012.
Her designer quilts come in two sizes. The king size quilts are 90x110 inch, sold at Rs 3,500 each, while the queen or medium size ones are of 60x100 inch size priced at Rs 2500 per piece. The baby quilts are Rs 125-250, smaller ones are 23x23 inch and the bigger ones are 31x31 inch in size. Suchita’s another speciality is ‘godhadi’, a handmade quilt of cotton sarees that offers warmth.
“In the good old days our grandmas used to hand stitch ‘godhadis’ out of old sarees. I have borrowed the concept but modified it – I use new sarees to stitch similar godhadis. Priced at Rs 2,200 each, these are in good demand in India and overseas,” said Suchita.
One may wonder how a single person manages multiple things. Suchita discloses that she does not stitch anything herself. She gets the work done from various women, good in the art of embroidery and stitching. It’s tedious and painstaking to cut and stitch small cloth-pieces together. But the final outcome is beautiful. The women get paid well for their hard work.
Suchita participates in exhibitions across Goa. Her entry into manufacturing of adult quilts was unexpected. Someone wanted a full-size quilt for gifting. The request came to Suchita who fulfilled it. The journey continued from baby quilts to full-sized ones. Eventually, the number of women that she offered work also increased.
Initially, daughters Tanvi and Prachi uploaded pictures of her designer products on social media. Her humble beginning with Rs 10,000 as seed capital has today turned into a decent turnover.
Recalling the turning point in her life back in 1995, Suchita said, “I had gone to Mumbai to attend a marriage ceremony. While I shopped for myself, I purchased dress materials to sell on no-profit-no-loss basis in Goa. They got sold out. So I made another trip to Mumbai, this time to keep a little margin in sales. My confidence increased with each trip. And with word-of-mouth publicity, clients walked to me. In 2000, I voluntarily retired from school to do full-fledged business by investing my retirement fund. Luckily, everything clicked. There was no turning back after that.”
Suchita has also tasted success in the world of politics after she was elected as a coucillor in the Margao Municipal Council. She is thankful to her family – her husband, both daughters and in-laws- for their support. Suchita is a role model for women out there who want to prove themselves.