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Name: Seema Khalil

Business: Chic Dock

Location: Londonderry, New Hampshire, U.S.

Industry: Apparel & Accessories

Reason for starting: I wanted to celebrate the exceptional talent of the artisans through my design sensibility, thus Chic Dock was born. The collection takes you on a journey and brings back an understated bohemian appeal to your wardrobe. A unique collaboration of yesterday and today— a bond between you and the artisans which will make you beautiful inside and out— you will unknowingly touch the soul who who created each piece with passion. We are in it together, reviving, sustaining, empowering, helping the artisans and their families and also helping our earth as these crafts save tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

I was taught by my mother to give, “when you give from your right hand, even the left hand should not know about it.” I still value her words but I was told by friends that the more people know about your cause, the more people will buy, so after much hesitation I mentioned it on my website.

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How do you define success? If we succeed we will be preserving the centuries old techniques which are ebbing away, a percentage of the sales is going towards improving their lives. Handloom weaving, hand blocking and hand embroidery takes a long time, even days to complete a final piece. The result is always breathtaking, no machine can ever replicate these crafts. The sad part is that, this is now a dying art form, as today the artisans are not encouraging their children to carry the legacy forward. We at Chic Dock appreciate their input and talent and help them in every possible way to lead a better life. Success means a lot when you’re not just thinking of yourself or your brand but know that if we don’t make it, we will be breaking hearts of those who have finally seen the light.

Biggest success: A small business needs to sustain, I have repeat customers which I believe is a success. I have been selling through home parties and it has all been through word of mouth. We will start selling online soon and hoping to do well. If the intentions are pure, the collection is unique and the quality is impeccable—success will come.

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? I want the women out there to get up in the morning with a faith that all will be well—we all are going through immense pressure, family, finance, fear of failure these three F’s are in your face every day. My biggest challenge was to generate sales and I started doing home parties. Hopefully we will get wholesale orders and will come back to write a success story —so all will be well eventually—till then I have to be strong. Some get easily what most of us have to struggle for. The more we struggle the more we will respect success when it comes our way.

Every day there is a new challenge, I wanted to attend a very good trade show recently, it fetches great wholesale orders but could not attend it. I know the brands which are selling hand embroidered apparel and hand crafted scarves like hot cakes, they have this endless lists of stockists. I know our quality is excellent, we can do timely delivery. Our styles are hip and trendy we can achieve the same if we had a PR team or a marketing budget all I have is the faith and strength to keep going on.

Related: Read about another Fair Trade fashion entrepreneur here. 

Who is your most important role model? For me it has to be my mother. She taught me that when you give to someone who needs it more than you do, you will get this inner happiness which is incomparable. I grew up without a father but my mother was a pillar, a rock. She never showed her weak moments, there must have been many. We are born with a purpose and we can either let life pass by or do something constructive.


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Edited by The Story Exchange