Red Lips: Never give up! Crowdfund your dream when nothing else works

Ever since, I started to perform in drag, I never ever brought anything for Maya. It was always gifts from friends such as sarees, makeup and accessories. I was happy with the support I got. Nidha is a lovely painter and brilliant belly dancer. She believes in art so much that she was gave me all her expensive makeup. I can’t thank her enough because she has helped me when I didn’t have any makeup at all.

My friend Meena, a transwoman, though from the US, gifted me two of her kerala sarees which she doesn’t use. I was so happy that she gave me something that I don’t have. One of the sarees had a tricolor border. It meant a lot to me because I was representing India as a drag queen.

There have been many gifts from my friends, Romal and Divya which helped me make Maya, a perfect drag queen.  I never thought that my performances should get me money because it was all about my passion. But passion doesn’t pay my bills nor put food on my table. So, I had to figure a way out.

After performing as a drag queen for two years, I didn’t have many performances in my kitty. At least one performance a month would keep me happy. Unfortunately, I didn’t have performances for almost 6 months. I had reached a point where I thought I should just give up being a performer. I went through my moods of depression, anxiety and nervousness. Pride month was fast approaching, I wondered if I would get a chance to perform at least once.

That’s when my best friend, Romal mentioned that there could be four performances that I could do before the pride! After a dry spell, my gates were flooded! I freaked out. My foundation and mascara was running out. I didn’t have enough sarees to wear for all performances. Above all, who will pay for the performance space, photographer etc? I had to do a major plan for Maya. That’s when I found out about Ketto, a crowdfunding platform for raising funds for any cause.

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My performances are for a cause. So why not? So I wrote an email to Ketto’s team and even started asking them for online help. I asked them questions ranging from will I be able to raise funds to how should I do the write up. They were very supportive and helped me throughout. I learnt that the write-up had to have information about the performances, reasons for crowdfunding and the budget.

This was all new to me. My friends, Sumalika and Ajin helped me come up with a good write up and budget. Once it was done, I sent it to Ketto along with good pictures of Maya. In another day’s time, Ketto approved my profile. After creating a breakup of the funds, I was given a green signal to share my campaign. My target amount was Rs. 50,000. I was anxious about reaching the target.

I was given instructions to start sharing the campaign on WhatsApp and then move onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I created a broadcast message and sent it to all the people who loved and adored Maya. The response was amazing. I reached 20k on the first night! I flipped. How is it even possible? My friends recognized my talent and dedication. They were ready to support me.

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Within a week’s time, 80% of the target was met. I was grateful and happy that it was possible. In just 16 days, I reached the target amount. When I ended the fundraiser, I had achieved Rs. 52,200 out of Rs. 50,000 with a week left before the deadline. I was overwhelmed. I had underestimated myself. I am guilty that I didn’t do much of a self promotion at one point.

This was by far, is the best achievement I’ve had. I was skeptical about people judging me because to me, I was begging for money from them. Our art and talent is appreciated when people take notice of it. Now my confidence has gone up. I may be a struggling artist. My focus will always be on my art. Yes, I am struggling now. But, all those hard work will bear fruits soon. I know it in my heart too.

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