Ambika lives outside of Trichy in the village of Tholurpatti, where common professions are farming, masonry, and truck driving. She lives with her husband – a mason– and her two children. I sat down to speak with Ambika about her screen-printing business, but before we could get started she insisted that I have tea. She motioned to a younger woman, who returned a few minutes later with cups of tea and sweet black coffee. Ambika shows off one of her sarisOver tea, Ambika began talking about her business. With a loan from Milaap, Ambika, along with four other women, spent Rs 2,000. each for the initial sari screen-printing supplies: decorative beads, mixing powders and pastes, and screens for printing. Two days a week, she goes to the local Self Help Group building and works with her fellow loan recipients and five tailors. Together they make about 10 saris a month, for an income of 1,000 to 2,000 Rs. each, although festival times are especially profitable. She has a variety of designs, including a mango leaf, an elephant, a peacock, and several flower prints. “An artist makes the designs in Chennai,” she said, “then sends them to a store in Namakkal where we buy them.” I asked if she had ideas in mind for the designs on the new printing screens, but she said that she is content for now, and will look at the selection when she gets to the store.
See how Ambika started her five-person sari printing business.