When Marufa got married as a teenager just out of school, she did not have to go looking for a job like others. Her husband Ruhul Quddus Mondal had launched a tailoring business and Marufa became his work partner. A quick learner, Marufa was soon an employer.
Her business: stitching ladies’ wear, especially doing the interlock stitches.
Many families in Dakshin Debipur in the Basirhat II area of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district are in the tailoring business, but the competition Is healthy.
Marufa, 25, has a five-year-old son, born halfway into her marriage. She took her first microfinance loan in 2018, from Village Financial Services. That was a loan of Rs 30,000, the highest allowed for a member of a joint liability group or JLG. She bought some sewing machines. She has since moved up to the individual category with a loan of Rs 50,000, which was disbursed in January 2022.
Marufa claims she makes a profit of Rs 30,000 a month on average. She specialises in interlock stitches.
On the costs side, Marufa has to shell out Rs 2,800 to Rs 3,500 a week for labour (they employ four workers). Then there is the electricity bill of Rs 3,000 a month (they have five sewing machines) and the cost of thread, which can go up to Rs 2,000 a month.
Each week, an ostagar or overseer brings bundles of cloth cut to shape. Marufa and her team use a variety of stitches to turn them into garments. She charges Rs 70-80 a dress.
Marufa’s house is her factory; the workers live in the neighbourhood. Work begins at 7 am and continues till 10 pm, with a lunch break and a siesta.
The work is not spread around the year: it peaks during the festival season. Marufa’s team stitches skirts, tops, long dresses, frocks and lehengas.