A Leola-based fashion purveyor and past contestant of Lancaster’s Great Social Enterprise Pitch is striving to find her footing after her office and workspace in India were burglarized, she said.
Timbrel Adidala, 30, is the force behind Lush Bazaar, a fashion line that focuses on handmade clothing, accessories and home decor. A 2016 entrant of Lancaster County Community Foundation and ASSETS’ business pitch contest, she employs underprivileged women in India in an effort to empower them and give them jobs in a stable environment.
“When I was 24 years old, I decided to move back to India to help my people,” said Adidala, who came to the U.S. when she was 3 months old. “I never really lived there, and I didn’t know much about it, but I wanted to be a part of my country.”
Adidala taught English at a school, often working with underprivileged children. She was taken aback by the struggles single mothers experienced while trying to make ends meet. Students sometimes dropped out of school to take jobs, Adidala said, recalling an 8-year-old child deciding to leave school to wash dishes at a hotel to support their family.
“These women had no skills and were struggling to make minimum wage,” she said.
But Adidala recognized their eye for color and fashion. She started working with them to make jewelry and purses out of recycled fabrics, which she sold through online retailer Etsy.
She returned to the U.S. in September 2015, briefly putting the venture on pause because she didn’t know much about how to run a business. When she was accepted into the Lancaster pitch competition, it helped her polish her plan and build a foundation to launch Lush. Though her initial focus was helping women, she expanded her mission a bit to employ two men working to provide for their families, as well.
Today Adidala works out of The Candy Factory, a Lancaster coworking space, running Lush Bazaar remotely. Her items can be purchased online at lushbazaar.com and locally at That Shuu Girl on East King Street in Lancaster.
‘I felt like I lost everything’
Adidala received a phone call around 11 p.m. June 15 from one of her employees who had noticed Lush Bazaar’s door was slightly ajar and equipment was missing when he came in to work.
Burglars had forced entry through the door of office, Adidala said, taking three of her four industrial sewing machines, a computer, printer, wireless router and materials from her upcoming fall fashion line.
Reporting such incident in India is not as simple as filing a police report in the U.S.
Adidala said when her employee went to speak to police, officials seemed to insinuate that an employee committed the act and said that Adidala would have to file the report in person. They wouldn’t take the report over the phone, Adidala said, adding that the level of respect for women in India is not high, so being a female business owner may have also affected law enforcement’s response to the incident.
Adidala does not have insurance on the facility.
“It’s a rental space, too,” she said. “I didn’t want to make too many problems” for fear that her landlord would evict her business.
“I felt like I lost everything,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe how I was going to rebuild from this. It took a huge chunk of my business – pretty much my whole business.”
Adidala acknowledged that she needs to increase security of the office, as she previously did not have surveillance cameras.
Due to the incident, Adidala had to lay off several employees. She estimates the burglary set her back about $4,580. She launched a GoFundMe campaign this week to help recoup expenses.
“The comeback is the hardest part,” she said. “It’s tough to be positive. It made me realize that this is definitely my passion.”
Rather than wallow in self-pity, Adidala is trying to keep an optimistic attitude for the sake of her employees.
“If I let my fear and hurt show, it would just make it worse for them,” she said. “This has really taught me a lot about being positive, not giving up and pushing forward in every way.”
“This is just a new beginning,” she said. “All we can do is go up from here.”