“A few months ago my friend gave me basic training in making the skull caps. After I mastered the initial technique, I went on YouTube and learnt a range of more complex patterns and designs. Now I know how to make bags, shoes, children’s clothing – a whole range of things!”
“The advantage of crochet is that I can do it whilst I am at home, looking after the children, instead of having to leave them to look for work. I think it is much better for me to work around my children, because I believe children that learn with their mothers are more healthy and are better behaved than those children that are left at home when their mothers go to work.”
Dian is very enthusiastic about building her now quite sophisticated crochet skills, and continues to use YouTube to learn new patterns. With her growing knowledge and her background in teaching, Dian hopes to be able to teach other women in the community how to knit and crochet, so they too will be able to contribute to the family income.
A big issue for Dian is sourcing materials for her products, as most of material available in Makassar is of low quality and as a result, people don’t want to buy them for a fair price. In order to overcome this, Dian has started using online fabric shops to source new and high-quality yarn. This in turn has led her to open her own online store via Facebook, where she sells to a growing number of customers. Whilst it is difficult to promote her work online, Dian says her husband supports her sales efforts by telling his own clients about her work and directing them to her Facebook page.
Dian was very excited about attending the CARE training, and learning about how to run a business. She was worried that whilst she had the skills to expand into a range of clothing items, she didn’t know enough about how to market her products, or produce at a scale large enough to make a consistent profit.
“When I heard about the CARE program, it felt like a friend had arrived to accompany me with a torch, as I walk towards my goal. I’ve become re-energized and more optimistic that I will be able to succeed with my business. Things are already going so much better than before! Everything is running smoothly and my businesses are developing well. I am now well known in my community as a crochet maker and I have lots of regular customers. Participating in the CARE program has helped my business to become more focused, more organised and more systematic.”
In addition to her crochet business, Dian started selling a range of herbal tonics from her house which she makes herself in her grandmother’s small kitchen. “I now make a range of tonics to help with many illnesses, including strokes, rheumatism, high cholesterol, and for pregnant women as well as new mothers. They are mostly based on natural honey, local herbs, and spices.”
Dian says that besides the ability to market her products online, the greatest benefit of the CARE program has been the ability to manage her finances. “Previously I wasn’t able to keep track of my orders very effectively. I wasn’t sure mine or the costs of production were covered by the sale price of my items. Now I have a clear overview!”
Thanks to her new marketing strategies, Dian has grown her regular customer base. As a result, her income has doubled, which has in turn led to improvements in the lives of her family members. “In August my income was approximately 1.2 million rupiah (US$ 92) per month. Now, it is about 2.5 million rupiah (US$ 192) per month. Now that our finances are healthier, we are healthier! I am able to buy more healthy food for my boys, and this has made them happier. We also have more money for relaxation – we even recently took a family trip to the local water park!”
Dian also says that the networking component of the program has been invaluable, and she has made many friends that have helped her promote her business, and provided support when she has needed extra hands to meet with new demand for her products. Dian is currently working with five other women, some of whom are program participants, to meet excess demand when large orders arrive. Information sharing through these networks has also helped Dian learn about useful government initiatives that support small businesses, which has led to her applying for a funding grant from a local government program.