Taking care of one’s own passion is something that requires a certain degree of self-conviction. But it takes a whole different level of confidence, determination, and effort to pursue something you’re passionate about for a greater purpose. With such noble intentions as empowering lives on the one hand and preserving traditions on the other, governing the passionate pursuit of her dreams, the aspirations that sparked in Devika Gurung a way to make her life an entity that also extends to others beyond her own is something that defines the beauty of what she does.
Such opening for herself the avenue of her dreams to also weave a different narrative that has helped others as well to earn a defined life identity could have earned Gurung recognition as a social entrepreneur. For Devika Gurung to take on that character when she was still young, a girl not even 30, could make it seem like it was something she had already set her sights on from an early age. After all, entrepreneurship is perceived as a lifestyle, a way of living inculcated and built through years of conscious development of the entrepreneurial mindset. However, for this Sikkim-born woman with an innate interest in creative crafts, it was not entrepreneurship per se that held special appeal.
In fact, like many who navigate the world of youthful possibility, Devika Gurung was also unclear on what she wanted to do in life. However, one thing she was more than sure of to the point of being almost adamant was that she completely avoided the routine prospect of a government job. However, her love of all things artistic had permeated the entire span of her existence and the identity of an artist was what really appealed to her the most.
Even within this dimension that unfolded as an amalgamation of all things that soothed the soul and engaged the senses, Devika’s membership in the Gurung community of weavers meant that her love was essentially expressed in specific elements of knitting and crocheting and such fabrications of not only personal interests but also historical and collective heritage. And it is from such a deep love for the fabrics that make up the canvas of life itself that Devika Gurung derived a mastery of her own home that has also been defined by painting the lives of others with colors of sustainable sustenance.
But even though his roots were firmly based on the premise of an ongoing legacy of community pride, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Gurung. Like all other parents who conform to the societal expectations of successful careers that the professions of medicine or engineering bring about, the Namthang-born girl of all idle inclinations was also ready to be thrust into that exact rat race of competition. She but she dared to free herself from the shackles of the convention and chose to follow a diploma course in photography. That in itself was quite a bold move considering the time and context of her occurrence. But what also made it a rather bigger gamble for Gurung was that her interests were more appropriately aligned in a separate realm of expression.
Failing to develop a genuine aptitude for delving into the art of photography, Devika once again opted for the road less travelled. She dropped out of the course when she was in her third year and sought employment at a BPO to cover expenses. It should come as no surprise that what followed for this dynamic lady with the fearless attitude was to abandon obviously mundane work that proved too much for her artistic inclinations.
What seems rather unusual throughout this shifting and changing of life’s stresses was that her actual emotions brought about by the wefts and warps of the threads would not yet be exactly palpable to Devika Gurung. Instead, she returned home and took a writing job at a local media house there, marking the first flashes of inspiration that helped her realize her real purpose in life.
Writing was something he really loved, but what developed out of this period of professionalizing the way Gurung had done with words would be somewhat more encouraging. It was through her work that she became aware of the many issues women routinely wrestled with throughout their lives that made an unlikely entrepreneur from someone who up to that point wasn’t really sure what she wanted her own life to be like. Turning personal and social desires into a single channel of expression, Devika Gurung simplified her identity to be a representation of the most passionate traits that she harbored.
It was the year 2015 in September when the Gurung social enterprise came to life as Fidgety Fingers. The very possibility that he expressed in this realm of his artistic aspirations to be a more than conducive route to help others was all the inspiration he needed to become the agent of change. With this goal in mind to ensure that disadvantaged women could be financially and emotionally self-sufficient, Gurung complied with the requirements to introduce people to the training process. That in itself posed a great challenge initially, as these women, until then unaware of the hope that abounded in this world of good Samaritans like Devika Gurung, were reluctant to dedicate themselves to the project.
Of course, the process itself is laborious, since nothing essentially artistic cannot be born without a conscious and devoted concentration on that intention. But trust Gurung, who even the uncertainty of her own jobless and untitled experience could not dissuade her from choosing not to stop loving her loves and it would only be a matter of time and relentless pursuit before she would write an immensely wholesome acting success story for Fidgety Fingers.
As hope flowed through these knitting, crocheting and sewing ‘therapies’, it was also tradition that regained its relevance. Reviving the arts had always been Gurung’s goal, even in her main motive of empowering underprivileged women. And what arose from this dual desire in equal esteem was a profusion of the beauty that resides in the simplest and smallest acts of kindness. With everything from toys and home decorations to shawls, sweaters and cushion covers lovingly crafted by these now proud women with ethnic motifs and traditional designs carrying about them the ultimate charm of Gurung selflessness, it’s not just the artistic identity of herself that has found validation. It is also about Devika Gurung radiant and flourishing through her new responsibility as a creative social entrepreneur.
So prominent has been this effort by Gurung that it has also earned Fidgety Fingers the opportunity to train rural women in partnership with the North East Rural Livelihoods Project. The company also won the Special Mention Award at UPSTART, Northeast Startup Challenge and Festival 2016-17 in the social sector services category just over a year after launch. But beyond such acknowledgments, awards and accolades, in fact it would be the very spark from which this peculiar collective came to life and that it has thus fostered would be all the recognition Devika Gurung would need so that her art and vision never lose that essence.
However, it would not be correct to assume Gurung as some kind of person who is blissfully ignorant of the reality of the world in which he lives. She may not have been so enterprising because of his choice, but definite traits of doing something on his behalf had always inhabited his consciousness. Her vision for Fidgety Fingers then is as carefully crafted on the marketing front as it is steeped in social service. The range of beautiful crafts created through the meticulous artistry of everyone involved in this aspect of fiber arts at Fidgety Fingers makes the company emerge as an immensely marketable brand in its own right as well. And Gurung is not one to shy away from this perspective, of course in all collective interests. While the aesthetic quality of these crafts has already made them popular purchases in the local market, as well as through the digital medium, Devika also intends to develop their global reach. For someone who so fundamentally stimulates all community storytelling, it’s only natural that Devika Gurung would seek to expand such avenues of creativity across all of the world’s greatest arenas. Call her a social entrepreneur or a fiery creative soul and this artivist behind the whole Fidgety Fingers style would be more than happy to find her place in both.