Everyone dreams of making a dent in the universe but it is not easy to come out comfort zone and take the risk. Lucky are the ones who have someone to push them and encourage them to speed test their desires. But when Chennai-based Cheryl Huffton’s daughter insisted her to quit her job she was far from ready to take a plunge. She did not know that taking this challenge would not only get her a turnover of more than Rs 40 lakh annually but also change the lives of many under-privileged women around them.
It was 2008 when daughter Denise had completed her MBA and wanted to start something of her own. She wasn’t sure she could do it alone so insisted her mother to quit her job and join her. This was something imaginable for Cheryl. She was working as a teacher in a government school for 16 years and had several responsibilities on her shoulder. With her meager salary she had to take care of her parents, in-laws and two children and risking her job seemed like a very foolish idea.
But Denise knew there was something rewarding waiting for them but they just needed to try. She kept on persisting but risk taking abilities slow down with age. Her idea was to develop disposable napkins and garments from eco-friendly material. She would spend many hours in the nights working on designs and was certain about her success. She couldn’t wait to chase her dreams but then something shocking happened which turned the situation in her favour.
Their maid Prema who had been working for them for around two decades had to amputate her leg because of acute diabetes. Her son-in-law threw her out of his house considering her a burden on him. As Prerna had practically raised Denise she came to their home to seek help. That was the only hope she had in life. Seeing her shook Cheryl and she began evaluating the prospect of doing something unusual which will not only change his fate but Prerna’s too. She called Denise and said she was ready to give up her job and take up business.
Denise was moved by her mother’s decision and assured her that efforts will give a bright future to make like Prerna. The mother daughter could only manage Rs 500 to start-off which is an insignificant amount. But they filled every shortcoming with their enthusiasm, confidence and hardwork. They bought some cloth material with the money and got a sewing machine on installment. It was from there they began making bras, panties, napkins and other disposable items to be used in beauty parlors of Chennai.
At first nobody entertained them or even looked at their product. The parlors were used to their traditional style of using cloth pieces and did not want to experiment. But Cheryl and Denise had immense faith on their product. They went from one parlor to other hoping they would get a chance to showcase their product. Finally, a parlor in Alwarpet, Chennai agreed to buy their product. In the first month they made a revenue of Rs 5,000. Although it is a small amount for anyone who does business but they were happy as their investment was just Rs 500.
Two women were becoming entrepreneurs without anyone to guide them. This caught attention of Bharatiya Yuva Sakti Trust (BYST) and they helped them get a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh. The freshly-infused funds proved vital for their company Dream Weavers and they bought three more sewing machines to handle the growing demand. Seeing Prerna’s life change, Cheryl and Denise decided that they would employ more women like her who were battling some crisis situation.
Their second client was a sister concern of Hindustan Lever Limited. This gave them a huge moral boost and secured their position in the business. Today, they have many big clients who get them monthly orders running in lakhs of rupees. It has become a leading producer of one time use disposable materials used in spas and beauty parlours such as mouth masks, disposable towels, napkins, paper bags, head caps, aprons, gowns, laundry bags etc.
But Cheryl places the satisfaction of supporting more than two dozen women above every financial achievement. She hadn’t imagined coming so far when she started off with just Rs 500. Her business now has clients in Dubai, Singapore, Malysia, Thailand and Australia. The mother-daughter are a huge inspiration for everyone who wants to become financially independent and be her own boss.