Sura—meaning shark—has helped women in a rural coastal area in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, fasten their children’s futures, much like they do their bags.
Sura was born in 2017, when a group of mothers saw that they could barely afford their children’s education, and wanted a way out. They decided they could create products and sell them, and use that money to fund their children’s education. Sura is part of Project Kanavu, which runs educational projects in the same area.
What started as one product—a simple tote bag—has now slowly expanded to over 50 products and counting. The group works with sustainable materials and traditional handicraft prints including kalamkari and ikkat, in their products.
The pandemic, whether for individuals or organizations, was a test of inner strength. It was during this time that Sura sprung to action and created new products, including masks.
Ila, one of the Sura women, would say about the masks, “We were earlier making bags, which was a nice-to-have product. What we make now is essential– it is helping someone be safe and that is a special feeling.”
Now, back on track after the lockdown, Sura has managed to bring in more vibrancy in their work through constant engagement as circle time, discussions, problem-solving, and creativity all come together, like entrepreneurs running the centre.
Nisha Subramanian, co-founder of Sura and a Teach for India alum, says she mostly ran on the women’s confidence, and her personal challenge was to figure out how to make the market linkages work. She credits a lot of it to the partners Sura has worked with over the years. “Sura is who we are today because of immensely strong relationships,” she says.
Sura constantly looks to improve not just its processes and designs, but also the lives of the women of the community, all with a practical lens. When irregular attendance could not improve in spite of incentives, the group sat together and figured that the best way forward would be to listen, not assume, and Sura introduced the four-day week for the women.
Their enthusiasm for their work is apparent to anyone who comes in contact with any of the women, or even their digital avatar.
Club Artizen is proud to bring you several products from Sura.
(All images by Sura)