The lockdown, on one hand, has been economically disastrous and has shattered many businesses. On the other, it has resulted in many artists and people with creative instincts monetising their craft.

Amidst the chaotic system which the lockdown has created, these five women, who have established small e-commerce endeavours, have hacked the key to discover the positive side of the current crisis through their art.

Gargi Anand (Aiyar’s Pakghar)

Gargi Anand (Aiyar’s Pakghar)

Aiyars' Pakghar is a food company based in Guwahati, Assam. The venture was started in the month of May as an experiment in the local market with a range of fresh, homemade, ready-to-cook batter mixes, pickles and spice mixes. The venture is inspired by the flavours of Kerala and Assam.

Aiyar’s Pakghar is run by Gargi Anand and her mother Uma Aiyar. Gargi works as a Rural Development professional and loves music, cooking and travelling. Her mother, Uma Aiyar has immense passion for food combined with an in-depth understanding of flavours, techniques and ingredients. “Food is an integral part of our family and it is an amalgamation of Assamese and Kerala cuisine, which brewed over the last 34 years here in Guwahati,” Anand told The Citizen.

According to Anand, the motive behind this e-commerce was two-fold — Firstly, they saw how a new narrative of healthy eating and immunity boosting food habits had come about amongst the citizens. Secondly, the two women noticed a trend: Even after restaurants and food delivery systems started functioning, people were sceptical about eating from outside and chose to cook at home.

This led to the thought that if the family could deliver fresh, homemade food products to people, it could add up as not only an additional livelihood option for Anand and her parents, but also one with a cause. There have been hassles in terms of procurement and reaching out to a customer base outside Guwahati but that has not stopped Aiyars' Pakghar in expanding to local supermarkets, apartments and taking bulk orders.

Vaibhavi Garge (_momo_tai)

Vaibhavi Garge (_momo_tai)

Vaibhavi Garge, 22, is studying at the Indian Institute of Rural Management. For her, art has been a hobby. She has an art page by the name ‘_momo_tai’ on Instagram. She sells original artwork, takes commissions for art and also sells prints.

“People have been telling me that I should sell my art and since I was making a lot of it at home during the quarantine, selling art seemed like a viable option,” Garge said. This online store is also a medium for her to contribute to her earnings which allows her to buy art supplies and invest in her craftsmanship.

Punya Bakshi (bizzare_creation)

Punya Bakshi (bizazare_creation)

Punya Bakshi, 21, from Bizarre Creation has just graduated from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and is planning to pursue her masters in Gender Studies. “I had been really interested in watching calming videos of artists making art and the whole process felt really therapeutic. I then started watching videos specifically of epoxy art on YouTube and realized that it had been quite some time since I had been watching them,” she said.

“I too wear a lot of junk jewelry, most of which I buy from local stores or what I am gifted by kind souls. I just thought of making my own pieces. I mean the idea of making and wearing my own piece really got me on and a really close friend’s birthday was round the corner which is why I searched through YouTube, Amazon and then contacted the store owners and bought my supplies and just started experimenting,” Bakshi told The Citizen.

She sells epoxy pendants, jewellery stands and pyramids on her Instagram store (bizarre_creation). The money she earns from the store helps her in buying her own art supplies, aids her experimenting process and also helps her learn new techniques. Art in these times has helped her learn patience, she said: “The whole process of creating art and for a person who seems to be anxious quite a few times, it sure is helpful. Also, I have learnt to give myself time to be imperfect, to learn and not always crib if things don't go my way. It's going good and I am learning at every step.”

Vineeta Gupta (art__restart)

Vineeta Gupta, 50, is an erstwhile commercial artist. For quite some time, she has been looking after her home and children and her art was relegated to the background. She recently started painting again and has now turned it into an e-commerce endeavour.

She said that it’s easier for her to continue her art amidst the lockdown. “I can paint for as long as I wish without the distraction of wanting to go out,” Gupta told The Citizen, adding that she would love to take the business forward post COVID-19.

She has posted her art on Instagram by the name ‘art__restart’ and also on Etsy shop.

Nirali Shah (nirali.s)

Nirali Shah, 29, works five days a week as a content strategy manager but on weekends, she dedicates her time to her craft.

“I started playing with resin in February and I was endlessly fascinated. I started experimenting using a silicon cake mould but soon realised that it's a big wastage of resin while I was still learning. So I ordered some jewellery moulds so I could test out many things together without a lot of waste,” Shah said. “I started putting my experiments on Instagram and people kept asking to buy them and that's how it happened!”

For Shah, the lockdown has been very beneficial. “The lockdown has also made it easy to find ways to do this from home since everyone has moved to working from home. I always found shipping and logistics so intimidating but they're not so bad. The only regret is that you can't physically go and find raw materials, packaging material and other fun things. You have no choice but to rely on Amazon,” Shah said. She sells resin jewellery from her Instagram store ‘nirali.s’.

According to Shah, the best part about the process is that it has become a form of meditation for her. “This is a good time for me to go through everything that comes with starting a small business but in the safety of my home and also in the safety of having a steady primary income. I'm trying to see if I can fit it in my regular life without adding too much stress but things will definitely change once this lockdown ends. So for now, I'm going to see how everything goes,” Shah told The Citizen.