This interview was first featured on 'NewsToday.'
"The Twins with Paper Powers."
We hear stories of people facing odds to reach their goals. Then there are stories of differently-abled people who defy their physical restraints to live their dreams.
Twins, Asfiya and Qudsiya (23), residents of Royapettah have an inspiring story to tell. They were diagnosed with Achondroplasia - a disorder that results in dwarfism. But it didn't stop them from starting a wall art decor business, 'Asque's Artistry.' They make exciting wall arts to their rising customers. They create party or gift products like wall backdrops, wallflowers, and also frames with names customised with a theme that rings with the customer's interest.
'To be born as differently-abled is not very easy, although we as kids never realised that something was wrong,' the twins said. 'But when you frequently visit the hospital, you know there is something wrong and it isn't nice.'
As a result of visiting the hospitals often, the twins dreamt of becoming doctors when they grow up. They had to consistently undergo physiotherapy and travel a lot to Bangalore or Coimbatore for treatments.
As children, they were very much interested in arts and crafts and they used to watch MAD - an art program that was telecasted on POGO Channel. 'It played a major role for us at that time,' they said. 'We would note down all the materials we needed and Abba would get them for us and we would try them, even though we wouldn't succeed most of the time.'
The twins then talk about their school days.
'We were home schooled until our 2nd grade. When our parents thought that it was okay to let us do our regular schooling, we were excited about it,' said the twins. 'Initially, the headmistress denied to give us a seat; she was skeptical about us coming up to such environment but our parents convinced her and then we entered our regular schooling phase. It was fun in the beginning. Everybody was too sweet. The school never failed to give all the facility we needed. They were totally up to our expectation. In no time we became all the teacher's favorite students.'
But the constant praise from the teachers cost a lot. Their classmates became jealous and they hardly had any friends. They became conscious about how they looked.
They met a chief physiotherapist of a renowned hospital.
The twins said, 'She asked if we attend PT classes in our school. We said no and why would we and what would we do there. She asked if any of our friends sit just because we are sitting. We said no. Then she was like, then 'Why would you stand just because they are standing?''
Her words made a huge impact on the twins. They started accepting who they were. They talk about the support and love their family has showered them with.
'Not only our parents but our joint family loved us immensely and supported us in all the steps. Never once in our 23 years of life, we felt alone or even sad for being born like this because the atmosphere we were surrounded with was always bright,' said the twins. 'We were always taught to be grateful for what we have. So yeah as kids, we weren't mentally affected so much but physically we had to go through a lot.'
Some products by the twins
They met Salha Amina at school who became their best friend. Salha was instrumental in inspiring the kids to start doing wall art decor business. The twins explain how it started.
'We never had an idea to do this. We started trying out the wall art stuff we saw online and gifted them to cousins or little children of our big family,' they said. 'Then Salha suggested us to do this as a business and we set up an Instagram page. It was in January of 2015. Artistry was named by a friend. Our love for arts and crafts came back to us.'
They talk about their method of creating wall arts. They split the work during the creation process. Qudsiya searches the internet for ideas or inspiration while Asfiya has the knack of carefully cutting and gluing intricate paper patterns.
'Sometimes we choose a theme depending upon the customer's taste like for example, we had a customer who loves cars and so we made a wall art that depicted car logos, etc.,' they explain. 'Making paper flowers is a tough work but still, we love creating them. We choose the right GSM and colour shades. We make sure to use papers of high quality for our products.'
Their Instagram page has several photos of beautiful wall arts that look like vibrant paints in a palette. Their followers are slowly growing and are turning into customers. 'We get customers from Instagram or through our Facebook page or through word of mouth,' they say.
The twins have completed their Bachelor's in Islamic Studies and plan to pursue their wall art business full time.
How do the twins stay motivated?
'We wouldn't be doing this business without our abba's guidance,' the twins smile. 'Ammi supports us a lot and we are so blessed to have a big family.'
The twins are eager to try more varied forms of themes for wall arts. They can be reached through their Instagram page @asquesartistry.