Kanchan Vaidya: Bridging gap between hills and urban marketplaces

It is a saying that people from the hills can hear beckoning calls of the woods even while at sea-shore. Kanchan Vaidya, an HR Manager in Gurgaon heard the call and knit a knot between hills and urban marketplaces.

Kanchan being the first woman in her family to leave her home in Himachal Pradesh for a corporate career, she’s now the first entrepreneur in the family. In 2015, Kanchan started The Original Knit, a Gurugram-based startup that sells handmade woollen wear for babies and toddlers. Kanchan feels that the reason people are now opting for handmade woollens is that they feel an emotional bond that the knit-product is handmade for you specially. In India, it is quite common to see your mothers knitting with love and affection for their special ones, but now the time has changed as people are busy in their lives or find wielding of the woollen clothes time-consuming. Thus, in order to restore and keep the art of knitting and crochet alive and to be able to provide the best of clothing to other parents and babies, The Original Knit was born.

What started in 2015 for 20 thousand rupees, became 45 lakhs in 2016, 1 cr in 2017 and now 3.5cr in 2018-19. Kanchan has also shipped to US, MEA and Europe too over the last 2 years where the demand is growing. Kanchan’s husband works for Wipro and commits himself to keep the fire ablaze for the social impact this company now is creating.

Come Winter 2015, Kanchan started sharing designs on Facebook and accepting orders. Within a month her page received 5000 likes and about 300 prepaid firm orders. Next year in 2016 she applied for VAT and started a business properly. Of late in 2018, she had a network of 300+ ladies across Delhi, Punjab and Himachal and has grown as self-helping groups wherein a group commits to supply order and some would work extra if a few members default. The group as a collective also have access to soft loans that start in March and get paid off by November.

Currently, Kanchan is convincing corporates for CSR to create a credible and auditable social impact that can be made into the remote villages and valleys of Himachal which remain inaccessible for 3 months with roads buried in snow.

Kanchan always wished to pursue a career that empowers women. With 95 per cent of women staff, her startup aims to bring forward the women from small towns to come forward and showcase their talent. Getting to help other women be independent and have an earning of their own has been the best outcome of all her efforts.

Kanchan being from Himachal had memories of village women knitting woollens as a hobby, on the hillsides and in the valleys, chatting up in the afternoon, soaking the sun and rapidly moving their fingers on the age-old needles. She then undertook a month-long trip and went into interiors of her home state making associations to create clothes that are a sheer treat to the eyes and are made from 100% wool to keep your small ones as covered with fur. This not only brought nice products to the market but also transformed the lives of scores of women who today receive timely payments of their work and take pride in the near artwork created by them. Many such women are sole breadwinners of their families. The quality checks are done in Gurgaon, packed and dispatched to online and offline retailers.

The TOK products are available on Firstcry, Hopscotch and few retail outlets in the country. The Original Knit products are 100% handmade with softest of the baby yarn available in the country. They offer more than 800 styles across sizes every winter and at one of the best price points available in the country.

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