It was the just reward for over three decades of nurturing a passion. A passion for weaving various patterns of ornaments with semi-precious stones and pearls. The brand she has built quite literally with her own two hands, Bejewelled, is known to complete the most chic and elegant wardrobes, each of her pieces enhancing the inherent beauty of the person they adorn. The woman behind it all is Dilshad Rahman.
Recently, as part of the Women Entrepreneurs Association's celebration of Begum Rokeya Day, Dilshad was chosen as one of 8 women honoured for their success in the field of enterprise, thus striking a blow for equality and empowerment in what remains a patriarchal society. Two organisations, the SME Foundation and MIDAS Financing Limited, were also recognised. Women like Dilshad were chosen for their substantive contributions to building a fairer and more just society.
It would be a mistake to think that the journey for Dilshad was anyhow straightforward. The perseverance she showed in negotiating the innumerable ups and downs she inevitably came across would surely serve as inspiration to future generations of women entrepreneurs. Today as Dilshan stands tall at the pinnacle of success, all those days and nights she spent perfecting her craft, working away at honing her skills for 10 hours a day on naverage, must surely seem worthwhile.
Dilshad first entered the world of ornaments in 1985, through Pearls Paradise, her family's jewellery shop that was being run very successfully and skilfully by her elder sister. But following her sister's untimely death, the responsibility was given to Dilshad to run the shop. She had to work hard relentlessly to maintain the reputation it had gained. After three years of successful performance she had to go abroad on a foreign posting.
Though away from the everyday responsibility of running the store, it helped her to learn and see many new things in the gaps between family chores. While abroad, she learnt ceramics, silk flower, decorpage (a special type of painting) and different kinds of handiworks, in which she had a keen interest from childhood.
In 2001, her foreign forays took her to Germany. There Dilshad struck up a friendship with a German lady, who made and sold ornaments to support her family. Dilshad helped her with ideas of various patterns of ornaments. The German lady's sales increased manifold owing to implementation of Dilshad's ideas. Her friend wanted to share her profits with her but Dilshad could not take it, even though her friend insisted. Instead, one day she proposed that the Germany lady teach her the techniques of making ornaments instead of giving her any money. The friend gladly accepted her proposal and taught her. From then on, Dilshad started making ornaments on her own. A new path thus opened up for Dilshad. Looking back now, it was the genesis of Bejewelled.
Dilshad returned home in 2007. Seeing the proliferation of impoverished people on the streets of Dhaka, she was moved to do something for them. She had brought back some stones and pearls that she purchased during her stay abroad. With those, she made some ornaments and showcased them at Pearls Paradise for sale. She got an encouraging response. She donated a portion of her profit to charity, and she was inspired by her own success as it allowed her to lend a helping hand to the poor. To this day, she continues to donate a portion of her profits to a variety of charities with the aim of helping those less fortunate than her.
She went on to take part in a Paris trade fair with some members of the WEA team, that emboldened her to forge ahead with the success and experience she gained from participating. Henceforth, no obstacle could stand in her way. It is now 12 years since she started Bejewelled. Her solo exhibitions number more than 50 altogether, including 12 in countries like Singapore, Senegal and Houston, Maryland and Chicago in the USA.
As time went on, the sales and profits increased, and so did her contributions to charities. At one point she developed work-related injuries to her precious fingers, the storehouses of all the skills she has garnered over the years. Following treatment to salvage them, Dilshad had to change her method of making ornaments. But true to form, she did not stop making them. Nothing could daunt her. So she adapted, rather than compromise. And the results are there for all to see. This is the journey that was rewarded by WEA for this year's Begum Rokeya Day.
The recognition of one's peers is the highest of honours, and in Dilshad's case, it is made all the more remarkable by the fact that she embarked on this journey past retirement, as her second innings in life.
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