Singapore

Covid cannot dampen Deepavali spirit

Young entrepreneurs find success selling festive apparel and traditional snacks online

They tell Tabla! the Covid-19 pandemic has not dampened the Deepavali spirit as they venture into new territory and look to grab the attention of customers online.

COTTON CANDIES ALLURA

OWNERS: Sisters Shalini Naidu, 30, and Durga Devi Naidu, better known as Sindhu, 33, have been running the textile business for the past six years.

THEN AND NOW: Before Covid-19, they usually set up a stall at the Little India Deepavali bazaar and similar fairs such as Zak Salaam to sell their merchandise. But they have gone fully online this year.

SALES TACTIC: The sisters are using videos on their Facebook page to promote their products. Each video is about three hours long and features about 50 saris.

"Videos give a better idea than social media posts of what a sari looks like when it is worn," said Ms Sindhu. They used to stock Punjabi suits, kurtas and children's wear but are now focusing on saris.

Only one or two saris of each design are available to make them exclusive, Ms Sindhu said. "Through our videos, we can sell them fast and don't have to store them in large quantities," she added.

CUSTOMER SAYS: "In previous years, I went to their store to feel the cloth and buy. But I think their live videos are better. I can see their full range of saris from the comfort of my home," said Ms Thilagawathi Marimuthu, 30, who has been buying festival apparel from the sisters for the past four years.

THE UNDERGROUND CHAI CO

OWNER: Mr Mohamed Ibrahim Aslam, 29, sells traditionally made South Indian tea and snacks. Father Mohamed Ibrahim Oliyullah, 57, helps with the packaging while mother Anisha Begum, 48, cooks the savouries.

WHAT HE SELLS: The online business sells items such as onion pakoda, chicken curry buns and murukku along with regular tea and masala tea.

"We don't use canned or condensed milk commonly used to make tea in Singapore," said Mr Oliyullah.

"We use full cream milk. Our snacks are also made in a nutritious way, with healthy flour, less oil and salt."

SALES TACTIC: The business, which gained popularity on Instagram, accepts orders through an online Google form. There are four packages to choose from, ranging from $15 to $16.50. Customers can add items separately after choosing a package.

CUSTOMER SAYS: "It is difficult to make masala tea and pakoda just for two people," said Ms Tasneem Djabarali, 28. "You have to make them in large quantities. This service helps me get tea and snacks just for two people.

"It's important to support small businesses in this difficult time and especially during a festive period like Deepavali."

MINISTRY OF TEXTILES

OWNER: Mr Mohamed Farvees, 25, is making festive masks to go with Deepavali finery.

FANCY MASKS: "Masks are an integral part of this year's Deepavali outfit for everyone," said the Singapore Institute of Management graduate. Mr Farvees visits textile stores in Little India and Arab Street to look for eye-catching fabrics. His masks come in different varieties, including embroidered, sequinned, gold-threaded, Kalamkari and raw silk. Mr Farvees also makes masks for weddings and corporate clients.

SALES TACTIC: Sold on Instagram, the masks come in different sizes, and logos or initials can be printed on them. The price ranges from $5 to $25 each. He delivers them to customers at no extra cost if at least three pieces are ordered.

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