First, how are you and your loved ones?
This is such a strange and tough time. We're living in a historic moment and it surely requires so much patience and strength to all of us. Sitting at home all day, I often think about you people, how each of you are coping with it.
Is anyone interested in how amateur start-ups without much capital are coping during this pandemic? Today I document the situations of me and MIRCHI KOMACHI since India's lockdown started till now, with some of our social media posts.
(MIRCHI KOMACHI social media post on 20 April on social distancing)
Life Of Me & MIRCHI KOMACHI
Compared to my life before the lockdown, my lifestyle hasn’t changed much. Basically I’m sitting at my work desk (aka our sole dining table) staring at my laptop.
My “business outings” used to be for purchasing fabrics/attachments, ordering and picking up outsourced stitching/printing, or visiting potential events. I won’t restart them soon because I can’t make new products soon.
MIRCHI KOMACHI was going to participate at The Lil Flea in March and April. We had JUST completed making clothes enough to fill our stall on two continuous weekends when COVID-19 reached India.
Since we have the maximum stock we can hold, I’m not making new products at all. We even have new products yet to be published.
Ah, “we” refers to “the brand MIRCHI KOMACHI”. No multiple staff.
Now I’m doing whatever I can do with my laptop the whole day. The list of the “should try” things isn’t reducing, though. I wonder why because I have more time than before the lockdown. Maybe my efficiency has reduced and/or mismanaging my time.
When I get sick of staring at the small screen, I bring my sewing machine and make things like patchwork dresses or masks with the leftover fabrics. Not for sale.
(MIRCHI KOMACHI social media post on 22 May on the patchwork dress for donation)
In my personal life, not much socialising was happening even before the lockdown.
No “vacation” for years. Going to a small bar nearby with my guy for some beer and an appetizer or two once a month was my modest luxury.
My guy has been working at home since before the lockdown, so again no change.
Shopping for veggies, milk, biscuits is done by him. House chores are shared. Cooking never is my thing (hence cooking is my guy's task) and I am not interested in trying new recipes or baking bread at all.
For the people who had been working with lots of people in the office or the job sites every day, it must have been very tough to suddenly work at home isolated. Various inconveniences in work, increased burden of house chores, taking care of kids who are at home whole day… maybe the burden has been heavier for women, as a sad truth.
Still, if you’re receiving the same salary from the company, it must be a huge relief in such times. The people who were laid off by the company or got their salaries reduced, or the freelancers whose work orders stopped, must be suffering from the financial fear increasing every month.
Still, if you’re living in a safe house/flat (well, "safe" should include "no domestic violence"...), it’s a blessing. Considering the people who had no money to eat the next day and started walking toward their hometown hundreds of miles away…
(MIRCHI KOMACHI social media post on 10 April on the migrant workers)
As a brand, the financial situation hasn’t changed much, actually. Because even before the lockdown, our sales had been hitting a brick wall. I had been wondering if it was due to the economy which was more depressed than the "official" figures, or merely my poor handling of the brand.
But unlike other brands, we don’t have hired tailors/staff to keep paying salaries, nor physical shops nor a workshop. The automatically-deducted expense is not fatal.
My brand is alive just because it’s too bloody small to get hit badly!
But, after this pandemic, this rock-bottom performance would stay for a long time due to the worsening financial status of the whole society. If I don’t put the brand in the black before I use up all my savings, MIRCHI KOMACHI will disappear.
During the lockdown, I started to think that I need to reframe the brand’s direction. I think we need to change for the new era. I've been doing a lot of thinking.
The brand’s two missions remain the same, but I might redefine what to provide to whom and how.
A path appears only after struggling and searching 200% of my ability, so I am on it, in the dark.
The world has become like that in a sci-fi novel, but it’s strange that my daily life is not dramatic nor full of adventure. Instead, vague invisible stress is always in the air.
My mind is flooded with various things, ranging from trivial to huge, every day.
Struggles about necessary but trivial things in daily life, sorrow and helplessness about the people suffering from much bigger damage than mine, anger against the people who make use of such situation, empathy or contempt about what’s happening in other countries, again coming back to the totally selfish worry about my life, anxiety about the uncertainty of future…
Whatever I’m thinking, I’m totally useless for the world except not making contacts with others.
But even I, a person with no income, am a privileged person who has a roof and walls and taps with clean water. A privileged person who can’t donate a significant amount to make any difference.
And in the first place, I think it is the state’s (I mean the country, not each “state”) minimum task to ensure the very basic level of life for every single citizen (with or without “the documents”!), not the donation by fellow citizens. Asking questions to the leaders as taxpayers and making them do what they’re there for would make a bigger difference, I think. But as of now, we’re overwhelmingly powerless… Thoughts are running in circles.
I need to recognise my position in society always, imagine the pains of the people in different positions always, and look for the ways to change society or myself.
I’m feeling that the direction of my brand cannot be unrelated to those.
(MIRCHI KOMACHI social media post on 19 June on discrimination and inequality)
Living In The Present
They say that once you become seriously ill, you realise how precious and blessed all the simple moments in ordinary days were. I guess everyone has experienced that feeling this time.
I think that many people would start living in the present moment and doing what they wanted to do without procrastinating, in this era where anything can happen tomorrow.
My life as a start-up has become tougher than before. The states (India, Japan) don’t help me at all. I need to figure out a way to survive in the Post-Corona Era. I can’t yet see the future at all through this dark maze-like cave.
But still, I haven’t regretted my decision to become self-employed. I’m still happy that I have started using the remaining limited time of my life on what I chose, although it’s an extremely bumpy road.
If I can continue with the brand which contributes to Indian society with whatever it can do, while making enough income to feed myself, I don’t wish for anything more. That's what my "success" looks like.
Stay In Touch
Those who have read this dull monologue till here, thank you so much.
Me and MIRCHI KOMACHI are really really looking forward to the day we meet your bright smiles.
Please be careful, stay safe. I send you a virtual hug. Stay in touch!
(MIRCHI KOMACHI social media post on 30 March, me and Ghumi The Proud Stray who calms me down during this strange time)