When Manzoor Mir completed graduation in 1989, he did not run after government job but started a small shop making wedding cards. 26 years down the line, Mir takes pride in his decision choose self-employment as his venture has become a preferred shop for making wedding cards.
"My father was a senior officer and he insisted that I should apply for government job. Given the higher position and clout of my father, I could have easily got the government job, but I wanted to go for self-employment," said Mir who has done his schooling from Tyndale Biscoe School here.
In 1989, Mir opened a small shop 'Zahoor Enterprises' at Khayam. "I had an inclination towards printing. I used to spend hours to examine printing in newspapers and glossy magazines. But I selected making wedding cards. However, at that time it was difficult task as I relied on conventional methods of card making," he said.
Gradually, Mir said his clientele increased in past over two decades. "My proud moment was few years ago when former principal Tyndale Biscoe School JM Ray who is based in England praised me during a reunion meeting saying "I receive your wonderful wedding cards from my friends in Kashmir."
Mir said card making has developed into a small scale industry in Srinagar. "There are lot of people involved in fabrication of the cards like pasting, decoration, printing and packaging. I promote self-employment by outsourcing these jobs to over 100 families including unemployed youth," he said.
Mir said he has over 2,000 types of wedding cards. "However, most of the customers now prefer wedding cards with traditional touch," said Mir.
"Card making has come a long way in Kashmir. Earlier people liked flashy cards with warm colours. Now customers want something traditional with modern touch," he said.
"But for some, wedding cards are not just invitations but status symbols. Customers choose cards on the basis of their status. We have wide range of cards ranging from Rs 2 to Rs 100," he said.
Mir said a prominent business family in Kashmir recently purchased fancy wedding cards for Rs 1300 a piece in Delhi. "Later, they fell short of cards and placed orders with us. We prepared cards for them at Rs 30 per piece. They were amazed to see the quality of our cards. It is a pride for us that we now receive orders from other states also," he said.
"Usually, both the two families whose wards are going to be married with each other make cards at my shop. But I maintain utmost secrecy that they don't know the quantity or price of cards purchased by either side," he said.
Mir said he has received best business partner award by Delhi Wedding Cards Association and CBS Radio Kashmir. "Computers have revolutionized card making but I prefer traditional way to prepare them. More than printing, I ensure that the cards are made with utmost care and love. After all these cards join two souls for life," Mir said in a philosophical tone.