Pabiben, Creator Of Your Favourite Pabi Bag Says Giving Up Wasn’t An Option!

Pabiben was one of 3 daughters in a Rabari family, her mother shunned after the death of her father. Today, she is the creator of the Pabi bag, known the world over.

‘’Again a girl! Your husband is dead, if your third child was a son he would have taken on the mantle of your family but without a husband or a son how will you bring up the three girls on your own now?’’ Pabiben recalled the traumatic experiences of watching her mother be taunted for birthing three daughters in an episode of Shark Tank season 2 telecast on Tuesday.

Ah, haven’t we heard such snide, insensitive comments all around us? ‘Bechari, bina kisi aadmi ke akeli aurat kaise ghar-parivar chalayegi?’. (Poor woman, how will she survive, run the household without a man?) Most women, whether married or single, are governed by societal and community rules and diktats and very few can dare to defy them and carve an independent path for their survival.

The toxic barbs and the fake sympathy hurt the little five-year-old Pabi also. The enormous struggle for survival that her widowed mother faced in taking care of her newborn and two older daughters strengthened her resolve to become financially independent.

Pabiben learnt the trade as a child

Pabiben was born in Kukadsar, a small town in Kuchh district of Gujrat. Her family belonged to the Rabari – shepherd community. After her father’s untimely death, the five-year-old girl had to extend help to her mother in looking after her younger sisters. She dropped out of school in grade four and began learning embroidery.

The community rules prohibited girls from pursuing embroidery for the purpose of wedding trousseau under the misconception that the girls delayed their wedding on the pretext of embroidering their trousseau. However, it was allowed if done on a professional basis. Pabiben grabbed this opportunity and joined a women’s group of artisans.

Creator of the Pabi bag

Along with the Dhebariya women, she soon created a new form of embroidery called ‘Hari-Jari’ which was a combination of machine and hand embroidery. The moment her creation Pabi bag was introduced in the contemporary market, it became an instant hit. It has found favor with many celebrities and her work has also been showcased in several western and Bollywood movies.

In her entrepreneurial journey, she was amply supported by her husband. He refused to be affected by people badgering him that his wife would leave the community. He always reiterated his trust in her and supported her dream to start a business of her own. ‘Giving up was never an option’, she says, even when people taunted her. And the same people lauded her for the positive changes she brought to their community when she became successful in her enterprise.

Pabiben did not stop with the Pabi bag

But she has refused to stop after having achieved global name, fame, and money. The multiple awardee is a firm believer in women’s empowerment and aims to help women artisans create an identity with the help of their artistic talent. She believes that empowerment is “the ability to think and choose, use maximum creativity in our work, match the potential in ourselves, to fulfill our dreams and get self-respect and recognition”.

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That is why, she, along with her marketing partner Nileshbhai and design partner Nupur, has started several other initiatives like Karigar Clinic which aims at training and mentoring artisans across the country, Karigar Ki Kahani to showcase the stories of artisans and they also plan to set up a Karigar Ki Dukan which will be a niche space for the fellow artisans to showcase and sell their creations.

In a fiercely competitive and exploitative market where buyers for handmade creations are few and profits even less, this kind of selflessness and willingness to promote other artists is a rare trait. But then, only a person who has experienced a life of deprivation, illiteracy, and anonymity realizes and acknowledges it. It is this empathetic attitude that drives the immensely courageous Pabiben to help women, especially those from a rural, marginalized background, overcome the obstacles in their path to becoming self-reliant, getting credit for their art, and getting the remuneration they rightly deserve.

Applauded by the Sharks

All the sharks heartily applauded her artistic and entrepreneurship skills, indomitable spirit, and inclusive approach towards her fellow artisans even if they didn’t find her business investible enough. However, Namita Thapar of Emcure Pharma did offer her a ‘Dil se’ deal to honor her art, her empathy, and her spirit of entrepreneurship.

India has a vast treasure of talent hitherto unrecognized and untapped. Here’s wishing that more and more Pabibens refuse to be cowed down by the diktats of a typically domineering society and strive to carve an identity of their own as an artist and a businesswoman.

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About the Author

Seema Taneja

Curious about anything and everything. Proud to be born a woman. Spiritual, not religious. Blogger, author, poet, educator, counselor. read more...

67 Posts | 234,366 Views

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