Sales workshop with Shalom Ooty

This is a blog on Women on Wings sales expert Marja Versleijen‘s visit to Ooty

We traveled by car from Kotagiri where we led a sales workshop with the social enterprise Last Forest to Ooty through the beautiful hilly landscape of the Nilgiris, to meet Sheela Powell, founder of social enterprise Shalom Ooty. She has a passion for Toda women and their unique Toda embroidery. During Covid she also had to endure a difficult period and now sales are slowly returning. What an amazing power woman Sheela is. It’s great to see what she has done on her own for her area’s tribal community.

Shalom Ooty enables willing women to strive for some degree of financial freedom to enhance their self-worth and independence within the constraints of their daily routine; keeping the Toda craft alive. It develops, manufactured and market unique, one of a piece, handmade Toda embroidered products. The embroidery, which has a fine finish, appears like a woven cloth but is made with use of red and black threads with a white cotton cloth background. Very special that both sides of the embroidered fabric are usable and very beautiful!

We met the five ladies in her office who process the Toda embroidery into all kinds of products. Lovely ladies who all got the chance to develop themselves and earn a monthly salary which they save to use for education of their kids. They are all very proud of their job for Shalom Ooty and proud of this Toda heritage.

Understanding sales, socials, and retail displays

Marja Versleijen and Shalom Ooty founder, Sheela Powell

We worked on a better understanding of her sales figures and how you can analyze and use them for making a forecast. Awareness was created so that Sheela can make better choices by interpreting the figures in a correct way.

A short meeting with the guy who does some social media work for Sheela took place. He is active on Instagram for Shalom Ooty and takes care of its website. Some recommendations were given on how to focus on which products and which customer segments.

Women on Wings Supriya Kapoor and I stayed in a house on Sheela’s compound where she was born and lives with her sister Lydia and four dogs and a cat! What a lovely couple! These two ladies are very sympathetic, careful and full of positive energy. Beautiful, old elements were kept in the house that they renovated recently. Even though we are very close to the center of Ooty, you hear nothing from the traffic, only the birds and nature sounds.

We visited Sheela’s two shops in Ooty and she took us around in the city to some third-party shops that sell her products. We travelled in a rickshaw with the three of us, very cozy. Also good to see that she used all recycled furniture in a very creative way to set up the shops, they looked very nice! We gave her some recommendations to make it even more customer-friendly and efficient.

The common, ultimate goal of Sheela and Women on Wings is to preserve the traditional Toda embroidery and empower rural and tribal women economically to create a better future for the next generation.

It was great to see all of this and breathe the atmosphere of the Nilgiris!