This International Women’s Day, we celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bohra women of Nottingham who make and sell decorative bags all over the world.
TGB by Sherwood Specials is a not-for-profit business initiative run by women from the Dawoodi Bohra community of Nottingham. Women and girls from age eight to 80 volunteer their time to make beautiful gift bags that are sold all over the world, with all profits reinvested into the local community.
This small business has now sold over 600 items and continues to grow. Furthermore, it strengthens and empowers women, allowing them to contribute in a significant and special way to their local community.
Who are the Women Threading the Initiative for Sherwood Specials?
Although all the Bohra women of Nottingham are involved one way or another in TGB by Sherwood Specials, there are some who are integral to the smooth running of this enterprise.
A pharmacist by profession, Umema Adamjee is the logistical coordinator of the business, spending her spare time organising the manufacture and distribution of the TGB bags. She also manages the orders on the Amazon marketplace. Umema loves all the vibrant colours of the bags and gets a real thrill every time an order is placed. Her favourite fabrics are the ones imprinted with flower patterns.
Marketing professional and volunteer Maria Adamji oversees the selling and distribution of products ordered on Etsy. She sometimes gets her 5 year old son to help with packaging the orders. Maria’s knowledge of marketing is invaluable to the success of the initiative.
A speech and language therapist for the NHS by day, Tasnim Sarkar has a passion for photography and is responsible for creating eye-catching social media posts. She loves presenting the bags in beautiful ways using natural light to show them off at their best.
Mariam Saigar is an entrepreneur with her own retail business, and has a keen understanding of the intricacies of selling on Ebay. Mariam notes, “I take pleasure in making sure that each and every order has a personal touch. I like to think that the person on the receiving end will get real joy when they witness the love that is poured in just the packaging.”
Using her organisation and people management skills, Psychology teacher Nisreen Mohamedali manages the sales on Etsy. Nisreen loves working with this wonderful group of women who all bring their different skills and perspectives.
Sakina Adamjee and Mariyah Gandhi – who both run their own businesses – help with online sales. “The whole experience has been such a steep learning curve,” Sakina commented. Mariyah added, “When we started out, we weren’t even sure that the bags would sell, so it’s been so wonderful to see how popular they are.”
In addition, women and girls from the community come together to assist with “threading” the bags, inserting the tie ribbons into the bags by hand. Threading is detailed but enjoyable work, and as one of the main volunteers, Tasnim Putwa, explains: “It brings women of all ages together. We chat, laugh and joke while we thread. It’s such a fulfilling experience to know we are contributing in this way.”
The vision of TGB by Sherwood Specials is to continue to grow online sales while attending major fares around the country to showcase and sell their beautiful bags.
International Women’s Day strongly resonates with the ethos of TGB by Sherwood Specials. As Umema explained, “It feels empowering and inspiring, that we can all come together and genuinely take positive action to support the advancement of women.”