Specialising in creating fashionable and functional work bags for working women, Gootipa has been thriving by creating quality goods integrating culture and intricate craftsmanship.
In this piece, we revel in one of the female employees at Gootipa who we interviewed. We intend to highlight her struggles and triumphs as she navigates the male-dominated corporate world while balancing her personal life.
Eti is a dedicated woman who took her first step in the leather product industry. Today, we will delve into her story.
Life At Gootipa Through Eti’s Eyes
With a red scarf draped around her slender face, vibrant yet brooding observant eyes, and an occasional smile contrasting her otherwise shy nature accompanied by her jubilant voice, Eti seemed to be the epitome of living the life of every hard-working breadwinner of the country, working diligently on her assigned tasks.
Unlike most people who work for the sake of it, she revels in her work and takes great pride in it. This is confirmed by Eti herself in the following interview, along with much more interesting facts and opinions.
Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
‘Well, of course!’, Eti chirped like a gleeful bird. ‘I was born and raised in a remote village in Barishal. Initially, I knew nothing outside of the sphere of my village. I used to play with the other children in the fields and had little idea about life in the city. Only my mama (maternal uncle) used to tell me tales of life in the bustling city, the streets adorned with vehicles, each honking rather loudly, the small shops, and the factories on the city’s outskirts. It would be safe to say I have been intrigued by such tales.’, she concluded in a dreamy voice as if reminiscing her old life.
How did you first find interest in the leather bag industry?
‘My mama once spoke of his colleague involving a job where they needed an extra worker. He referred me to his colleague, who, in turn, let me apply for the job. I remember being anticipated because it was my first step into the big capital without my beloved family. I was a new girl in a new city who ended up in a leather factory. However, I had no regrets. Therefore, my journey as a worker in the leather factory began on a happy note. Being here is undoubtedly the best life-changing thing that has ever happened to me.’, Eti replied in a determined tone.
What do you think sets your company’s bags apart from other brands?
They are unique and ethically made with lots of love and care. Each bag has its own story when an artisan makes it. Our life stories are imbued in each product from this factory. To be honest, these bags are unlike any other I have seen.
Can you walk us through your task in creating one of the bags?
‘My task may look simple, but it is quite essential.’ she chimes. ‘I colour the bags in segments. I take them part by part and apply the required colours diligently. Some bags must be coloured before certain finishing while others can be coloured afterwards. I focus on applying the dye smoothly and evenly. Many chemicals are involved, but none are too harmful, as our instructors tell and guide us through the safety process. Nevertheless, I always remain cautious.’
What if you accidentally spilt some dye?
‘That can happen often, and it is a big mistake. Colouring the parts is intricate, and I sometimes have to use octane/removing agent to fix the errors.’
I have heard of your whirlwind romance in the factory. Can you tell us your love story?
Eti giggles shyly, followed by a nervous ‘yes, I would love.’ I met Yaseen at the factory while working together. He was from a contrasting village in another district.
Meanwhile, I was from Barisal, and my family initially opposed our relationship. Thankfully, his family embraced me as if I were their daughter, and we married soon! I left everyone for him! He loves and respects me, considers my opinions and desires, and ensures my peace. I am fortunate to be married to a man such as him. Eventually, my family came to terms with our wedding. Even though every marriage has pros and cons, and ours is no exception, it is truly a fairytale marriage.’
Being a female, what do you think about having a female employer? What’s your experience working here at Gootipa?
‘Honestly, I have not worked in too many places before, but I have heard stories of unkind employers. However, I am lucky to have such a gentle and thoughtful employer. Our ma’am has been with us through thick and thin. It is inspiring to see a woman like her being our boss. When I set foot in the capital city – Dhaka, I was shy and introverted. I was afraid I had done wrong or made any mistake. Ma’am helped me get comfortable in my skin with her kind words and advice. Now, I see her as a motherly figure with whom I can share anything. During festivals, we get to talk, joke around, and enjoy ourselves as if we were a family. So yes, I enjoy working here, she replied ecstatically.
What advice would you give someone interested in working in the leather bag industry? ‘Hmm, I would be respectful and respect the work and mentors; you will learn. Once you learn your way around, the journey becomes smooth from there. The leather product industry is different, so be prepared for a long journey of learning and adapting. I love my work which is why this job is so satisfying. Try out this line of work.