Inside her office in Baghat area of Srinagar, Mehnaza is busy conceptualizing new designs on her computer system. She transfers those designs to a seven-needle- professional embroidery machine to print beautifully crafted designs on various types of fabric.
The 28-year-old entrepreneur, who hails from the border village of Kupwara district, is the first woman in the valley who started a digital embroidery business.
“I love creating designs digitally. This digital embroidery is a new concept here,” she says.
Digital embroidery is done using computerized designs. It is also popularly known as machine embroidery or computer-controlled embroidery. Computer created design is then used to stitch the design on the fabric or material.
The young entrepreneur handles marketing, finances, softwares and machines herself. Even at times, she says, her work stretches up to dawn.
“I use wings experience embroidery software and Tajima DST computer programme to map each individual stitch for the pieces of products,” she said.
After transferring the digitized designs, Mehnaza uses a seven-needle- professional embroidery machine for creating the beautiful designs on clothes, Kurtis, jackets, sweaters, t-shirts, socks , pherans, bed covers, cushion covers, summer and winter cotton mats.
Mehnaza Khan was just a 4 -year-old when she lost her father. Her mother had no other option but to admit her to a local orphanage in Kupwara.
“I don’t know how my father died. I was a kid then. My mother only told me that my father was missing. I have two sisters and a younger brother. After losing my father, my mother had to work very hard to make both ends meet,” she said.
“I continued my studies despite a lot of hardships and 12th class from a government college in Kupwara,” she adds.
In 2015, Mehnaza was encouraged by Borderless World Foundation in Kupwara to pursue a three-months training programme in Pune.
“During my training in Pune, I got to know about digital embroidery and decided to start my own unit. I could not afford to pay for the machines but seeing my talent and determination Borderless World Foundation provided me with a machine,” she recalls.
“Further, NGO ‘Chinar International’ funded me for my unit.
Now, I have a strong hold on my business and I am managing it happily,” she says.
Through her efforts and hard work, she took her venture to new heights and developed a clientele in a very short time.
“I have clients mainly in Kashmir valley. I take orders from local factories, shops, schools and youngsters. Clothing houses and various ready-made shops are also my clients,” she says.
Mehnaza says she used to get the material for embroidery from Mumbai which now is easily available locally.
“I also design digital embroidery logos and make designs on uniforms as well. I design as per the choice of clients,” she says.
She uses a variety of techniques and trilobal polyester embroidery threads to create prints that mimic her intricate embroidery and make her work more affordable.“ I am charging as per the stitches which is affordable for everyone.”
“I am happy with the progress so far, and want to expand and employ people in my business unit,” she adds.