Meet Zarka, ‘Made in Kashmir’ Detergent’s Brandmaker

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 Zarka Tanzeel. KO Photos by Auqib Javeed.

Believed to be the first woman who introduced Kashmir’s own detergent powder, a young self-starter driven by her supportive spouse has become a new brand maker in the valley.

THIS former teacher still carries her classroom coach characteristics when she arrives in her factory—which braved successive lockdowns—to produce local detergent brand in the market.

A mother of two children, Zarka Tanzeel, 29, is only living up to her ‘empowered woman’ image, with which she wants to inspire her ‘browbeaten tribe’.

“I always wanted to lead by an example,” Zarka says in her workstation in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

“And as a job creator in the field previously thought as challenging for women, I want to help my type to become their own support in life.”

An employer of a dozen workforce including two women, Zarka is believed to be the first woman who introduced Kashmir’s own detergent powder in the local market filled to the brim with non-local brands.

In Budgam, her detergent factory produces a native brand called “KMR Sheen” detergent powder.

Zarka’s workplace.

Before starting her own venture, Zarka had to pass through her own share of struggles in life.

A native of Srinagar’s Bemina area, Zarka pursued her dream rigorously after her wedding.

In 2017, this former private teacher—a commerce degree-holder—married a businessman of Budgam.

“Soon after my marriage, I told my husband that I wanted to start my own business but I wasn’t sure what to do,” she says.

With supportive spouse at her side, she found detergent factory as a workable venture in Kashmir.

“This was something related to woman also, so I was very excited about it,” she says.

From setting-up the factory, to getting the raw material, and learning the detergent-powder-making formula, she had to toil very hard while striking a balance in her marital life.

Insufficient seed capital, meanwhile, made her approach the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), Budgam, for funds.

“But the fundraising wasn’t enough to set up my venture,” Zarka said.

 Zarka’s staff making detergents.

That, however, didn’t discourage her to chase her dream.

Zarka next sold her jewellery, and set up her factory with the manpower expertise from Gujarat.

The factory was all set to start in August 2019 but New Delhi’s sudden move to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and the subsequent lockdown casted its shadow on her venture.

“I was disappointed but I had invested a lot of money and time into my venture, so I didn’t give up and started again after normalcy returned,” she said.

By the spring of 2020, she was ready to give it another chance before COVID-19 enforced another lockdown.

“I thought this is the end,” she recalls. “But I could once again start it, thanks to my husband and in-laws, who always supported me.”

The final product.

With Rs 84 per kilogram of detergent powder, Zarka’s “made in Kashmir” product is “selling like hot cakes” in Budgam and Srinagar.

“And the reviews are very positive,” she smiles. “People especially women prefer to use my product and it gives me so much of hope and encouragement.”

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Auqib Javeed

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