Sujata Chatterjee lead her team to fight COVID-19 and make eco-friendly masks for mass distribution
The promptness with which Sujata Chatterjee’s Twirl.store took up a new challenge during the pandemic has no parallel among her peers. The three-year-old social enterprise that recycles discarded clothes, switched to making masks for mass distribution benefitting thousands. No wonder her efforts were lauded by the government. Sujata, who holds a BTech in engineering shares with us Twirl’s journey during the uncertain times and her unwavering quest to keep serving the society. Excerpts:
Being proactive helped you and your organisation to not just stay afloat but also help the nation when it needed the most. Tell us more.
With the pandemic starting to affect people across the world, we, at Twirl.store held extensive sessions at office explaining to our team the precautions that need to be taken. We closed office March 18 onwards, much before the lockdown came into force and invented ways to continue our work from the safety of home. With masks becoming mandatory the demand for fabric masks from various NGOs and DSWOs skyrocketed. Thousands of masks were manufactured by our team and it’s an honour to be recognised by NITIAayog. We have also donated hundreds of masks to slum-dwellers, the police and others in and around Kolkata.
What were the challenges in your way?
March 2020 was the beginning of an uncertain period and for a small organisation like us, it could have been devastating. Yet even with financial fears looming large over us, we were one of the first organisations to encourage team members to stay at home. Moreover, supercyclone Amphan dealt another major blow on us with many of our centre going without electricity for several days. It also slowed down our production but we were back stronger within a week.
What is it that keeps you motivated?
The road ahead for Twirl.store, as a social enterprise, has always been a difficult one but encouraging words from unexpected corners including the in 2019 by Indulge, The Morning Standard, are what keeps us going. We truly believe in the light beyond the darkness. Since inception, Twirl.store has conducted numerous donation drives across the urban slums, villages and shelters in Bengal providing basic clothing to over 3,000 needy people including the differently-abled, senior citizens and children apart from recycling clothes into beautiful products. Twirl has worked with various self-help groups/NGOs for extensive skill development and has ensured sustenance for women from the lower economic strata by selling upcycled products handcrafted by them. In fact, each of the products is a symbol of sustainability and empowerment.