TheGlitz ‘Super Women’: Manjusha and Najooka Javier, Co-founders, Tohfa

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Meet TheGlitz Super Women… Manjusha Javier and her daughter Najooka who started ‘Tohfa’ when Manjusha lost her job at the age of 50. Najooka was still a fresher at that point and Manjusha was struggling to make things happen for them.

Najooka avers, “I wanted my mum to not run after jobs and was hoping she would do something that she truly enjoyed. That’s when we came up with the idea of ‘Tohfa’. So we organised a small exhibition of the utility products that she stitched at home and invited friends and family over to have a look at them. Our ideas were well-received and that’s what gave us the confidence to start ‘Tohfa’ in 2017 with an investment of Rs 2,000.”

Adding, “My mother was always passionate about stitching and fashion designing so we decided to use her skill to make fabric-based hand-stitched products. Through ‘Tohfa’. we are trying to promote a sustainable and plastic-free life. Our products are handcrafted by local women who we have trained and taught stitching to and our fabric is sold from artisans across Indian states. We make personal use, and home décor products out of artisanal Indian fabric. Our products are also made to order and can be customised according to our customer’s choices.”

The Javier’s were very clear. They wanted to promote authentic Indian weaves and encourage and empower artisans in India by sourcing fabrics from them. Najooka says, “We have helped in the skill development of local women and employed them who over the years have joined us in our initiative.

Today ‘Tohfa’ is a team of 8 women and we are hoping to grow stronger. We are also trying to promote a plastic-free life by providing 100% fabric-based alternatives to plastic products that people use. All in all, we are trying to make a positive impact on people and the planet.” Let’s raise a toast to these two intrepid and courageous women – TheGlitz Super Women – Manjusha and Najooka Javier.

Manjusha and Najooka Javier
Manjusha and Najooka Javier

Your journey has had many momentous milestones. Could you tell us about your life-changing journey that has moulded you to be what you are today?
I think financial instability was our biggest teacher. When my mother lost her job, we had no clue where we were heading and how things were going to go for us. But we knew we could face this situation because we had seen the worst. We had survived days when we had nothing, and we wanted to make sure that this situation didn’t bring us down either. We put together whatever little money we had and used my mother’s skill of stitching and her creative eye to make products.

I used my knowledge of marketing to showcase our products on Instagram and Facebook. We also organised a small exhibition at home and invited our friends and family. We showcased our products to all of them to get their feedback. Everybody loved our products and that’s when we got the confidence to actually take this business further. It has been 6 years and all this while I was moonlighting on the business alongside a job and now I have finally decided to leave my job and pursue my business full-time.

Could you list 3 of your major achievements?
We were sold out on our first exhibition itself. We got a good market certification for our products and we are now a team of 8 women working on ‘Tohfa’.

What are the setbacks you have faced? How did you tackle these setbacks or challenges? And what lesson have you learned from it?
We are still growing, we don’t have a lot of funding to put into marketing or promotions and sometimes, we struggle with orders or have challenges with labour and deliveries. People refuse to pay shipping charges and haggle with the prices.

But being in the business, we have realised that every day will bring a new challenge and while at first, we would get really bogged down by it, now we look for innovative and constructive ways to tackle our challenges. …And we believe that we are doing good for the people and planet, and hence we will continue to do so no matter what challenges come our way,

When you look back, what are the three qualities in you that have helped you become what you are today?
Sincerity, dedication, creativity, and the passion to do something good… These are the qualities that both – my mother and I possess and hold close to our hearts. When I was a kid, my mother always told me that keep doing good work and that all your efforts will be worth it one day. And that is what both my mother and I follow.

Who are the people who have been the wind behind your wings?
Our friends and family have been our biggest supporters and promoters.

Lastly, if there was a quote to define you, what would it be…
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”Eleanor Roosevelt
“If you believe it’ll work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you don’t believe it’ll work out, you’ll see obstacles.”Wayne Dyer

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