Tinker Jannat Meem, the admin of one of the most loved girls’ community groups on Facebook, has managed to create her own niche within a short span of time. One who has turned her group into a company, encouraging many women to do something on their own, she has proved how hard work to create one’s identity, pays off, despite all the struggles, writes Colors’ Samura Chowdhury based on exclusive interview.
There are hundreds of groups on Facebook, but not every group can claim to be as influential and striving as Pop of Color or Pochians as the members like to call them. Colors had a closer look at this influencer’s aspirations, the idea behind starting this group, future plans regarding her company and how far she thinks she has been successful in creating her own identity.
What made you want to start this group?
Tinker Jannat Meem (TJM): I’ve been a feminist for as long as I can remember. My father was an avid reader, so I was surrounded by books. It made me curious and through his collection, I came directly in contact with rich books and writers such as, Satkahon by Samaresh Majumdar, Suniel Gangopaddhay, Rabindranath Tagore from a very early age, even though I couldn’t completely grasp what they tried to convey. Reading them made me realize that I have to create my own identity.
How did you imagine this group to be?
TJM: Pop of Color is not the only girls-based group on Facebook or even in Bangladesh, but while most groups focused more on gossips and shopping – not that anything is wrong with it – I wanted it to be more specific. I depict Pochians to be posh in mentality, and not just in status. I wanted to create a platform where women were eager to make a name for themselves and not just focus on where to go and have lunch with their husbands. I knew something from the very beginning – this group is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to prove themselves. So I created it for specific people who have the same hunger to be ‘someone’. I wanted quality over quantity and not just an unlimited number of members without specific goals.
As you prefer quality over quantity, how do you decide to add members and moderators to the group?
TJM: I personally inspect and go through all their profiles before deciding to add them. As I’ve wanted particular people in the group, there has been hype regarding Pop of Color. People felt really special if they could become a part of this group. And likewise, if anyone ever violated the group rules, or hurt anyone with their behavior, they are permanently banned from the group. And people who have been a part of this group, know how much of a big punishment this is. Our group is a secret group, no one can join it now unless I send invitations. I was criticized for introducing this rule, had to deal with a lot of negativity, but later on, almost every group started following the same rule, so you could say Pop of Color is a trendsetter.
Would you tell us a bit more about your events, the Pochian conference that was held last year?
TJM: We had our first-ever Pochian Conference last year. Physical and mental health-related issues are not given importance to at all by women themselves and also the society. It’s still a taboo to talk about family planning or looking for a job, and when people are willing to do that, they don’t know where to begin with. Hence, this conference was done to make those people aware of these problems, that they have no one to share with. So keeping that in mind, I divided this event into two sectors. During the first part, I brought experts from different fields, such as lawyers, psychiatrists, gynecologist Dr.Kashifa Nazneen from Square Hospital, an Assistant Police Commissioner for the cybercrime session, a nutritionist and so son and we had 5-6 sessions on these different topics, where experts gave advice and told these women about steps to be taken to start a new business, how to take care of their mental health and physical health or steps to follow and lodge a complaint when they get harassed. On the other part, we held an award-giving ceremony for women who work behind camera but are not as famous as beauty bloggers, so they don’t get recognition as much.
Do you think you’ve been able to achieve everything that you’ve wanted to in these five years?
TJM: I still ‘have miles to go before I sleep’, but my dream of making this group a community came true in 2016 when Pop of color legally and officially became a company and got license and trademark. The first and only group ever to have turned itself into a company, Pop of Color LTD. Being able to work with brands like Bkash, Square, Unilever and other large companies, opening a new sister concern Pop of Hope for young entrepreneurs, who would get products for their business from this group at wholesale rates. This enables them to easily work on their own and earn their own money. I got personally invited by the Prime Minister to join her for the Independence Day event last year. I also was part of the UN Women’s event Generation Equality and donated clothes and food during the winter for the poor. So getting such respect and opportunity always humbles and moves me and motivates me to do better.
Did you have to face a lot of hurdles?
TJM: Yes, most definitely. I don’t think anyone can achieve anything without facing hurdles. At times, you’re constantly asked, what the need to do something is when you have all the luxuries in the world. Sadly, it’s hard for people to understand. It’s important to love others as much as you love yourself. So I struggle a lot to achieve this position of power. I want people around me to be empowered and create something for themselves. That’s what motivates me to work harder and keep going, ignoring all negativity around me.
What are the future plans about Pop of Color LTD?
TJM: Currently, I’m working on creating a Hub in every district and division, including Dhaka. The main purpose of this Hub would be to help women in need. These hubs would have experts who would help them solve their problems, which could be anything, such as it could be the need of a lawyer or doctor, cyber expert, nutritionist, at free of cost or even if they have to pay, the amount would be very small. Through our Hub, help in any sector would be easily achieved, which under other circumstances becomes unaffordable for the masses.