A platform connecting business to textile artisanal communities
Artisanal activities generate income, create jobs, foster economic communities, sustain ancient techniques, and preserve culture and meaning that is an essential component of healthy and sustainable development.
SheWorks strives to launch a campaign and a set of related activities to build awareness and broaden support of the artisan sector (assess need, audience, potential partners, conduct research to make economic case, develop communication messages)
We work with business, supporting product development and design, implementing the production through the artisans collaborating with SheWorks
Creating Opportunities for artisans and businesses
Pakistan is known for its cultural diversity and rich heritage but is struggling with widespread unemployment. People looking for livelihood opportunities head out of their communities towards already overcrowded cities and migrate to other countries by any means possible. The major cause of population flight and brain drain is a lack of employment opportunities within communities. This causes severing of the cultural memory and people’s relationship with their land, causing serious, long term social problems.
With its diverse natural resources, manpower, and distinct regional cultures, many areas of Pakistan have the potential for economic growth through craft development.
We support artisanal enterprise as the key driver of economic growth for rural communities, especially women. Our emphasis is on development grounded in the uniqueness of people and places. We strive to create opportunities for communities where livelihood and craft traditions are marginal or at risk
A crucial next step
Over the past many years, the artisanal textile industry in Pakistan has seen tremendous investment by government and non-government agencies to produce jobs. The bureaucracy-encumbered development models have not been effective in the critical role of design innovation, aesthetics, and quality control. As a result, ill-made products have suffered in the global marketplace. The disappearance of hand made traditional products is nothing less than the disappearance of cultural memory and the social relations of the guilds in which master craftsmen maintained aesthetic standards.
SheWorks sees a direct connection between designing competitive products, wealth production, environmental health, women empowerment, and cultural survival. To place this wholistic vision at the heart of imagination in the field, SheWorks will function as a physical and online hub. It will host and foster six types of connections between:
Collaborate with national and international textile designers
Connecting textile designers, interns, and artisans.
Establishing contacts between artisans and suppliers of raw material and dyers, providers for repair and maintenance, tracers, exhibition companies, and logistic suppliers to microfinance providers to maintain a cohesive work environment
Facilitate and connect artisans and NGOs who offer women training that will make them bankable and financially viable.
Create opportunities for women artisans and the large body of students and young professionals graduating out of fashion schools in Pakistan to work together.
Finally, artisanal communities, designers and buyers:
Baagh (Garden) Project
A project implemented by IHT, Handwork Studio for UNESCO
Elevating embroideries of Punjab to an art form
The exhibition was held at the Alhamra Gallery, Lahore on December 13 to 15, 2019.
Displaying hand embroideries as a form of art was an artistic collaboration between textile designers, artists and researchers from Indus Heritage, Handwork Studio and the artisans of Punjab region. The project showcased the embroideries from Punjab as an artistic form and highlighted its capacity for fostering intercultural dialogue and exchange on the world scene.
Completing the Cycle
Recognizing the emerging awareness world over about ethically sourced and produced goods and a preference for traditional craftsmanship and handmade items from independent retailers and artisans, SheWorks has initiated a platform to facilitate businesses to connect to artisans and vice versa. Taking advantage of the emerging and fast-growing technology channels in Pakistan, artisans and consumers can use the online platform to make a living from their craft, an option that was not possible pre-Internet.
The Importance of Design
The Next Level
Design’s impact on business can no longer be questioned post Covid-19 era. Given the rapid rise of the consumer expectations driven by the instant access to global information and trend, only the very best designs will now stand out from the crowd. Companies that excel at design will grow revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry peers. The McKinsey report highlights why it is time now to address design leadership goals first if the companies are to capture the full business value of design. And why companies need stronger design capabilities than ever before to boost their odds of becoming more creative and exist in the business. ‘Design needs to show deep accountability to the business, and good design should show a commitment to making the world a better place.’ - Justin Maguire, Chief Design Officer, Salesforce
The SheWorks team has devised a holistic program of micro-enterprises covering all aspects of self-employment, organization of the rural communities into self-help groups and their capacity building, planning of activity clusters, infrastructure build-up, technology, credit, and marketing support. The goal is to increase their income, improve their standard of living and status in society.
Supporting Women and Families
Women are often the custodians of traditional knowledge. Focusing on educating and empowering women achieves the intertwined goals of sustainable development, social justice climate action. We strive to provide economic opportunities for the rural population of Pakistan in their own communities to minimize the impact of displacement caused by migration to cities.
Creating awareness for using environmentally sound practices is a priority and a major part of our mentorship. We believe in an integrated approach to product development, business skills training, market access, and eco-effective processes to leave behind an infrastructure that is sustainable
Collaborators in Design Development
Design input turns the ordinary into something special
Women's textile arts are rarely in a museum with a creator's name by them, but look into the exquisite depths of a handspun, hand-dyed, handwoven,hand embroidered textile, and you will see not only history and story and skill and love. You will see art. Ibumovement
The team of SheWorks has collaborated with international and local designers to work on design innovation in the field of artisanal handwork.
We invite local businesses to partner with us in developing products involving women artisans, which include fashion accessories and home products.
The Ibu Foundation
Founder and Creative Director
Samina Mahmud has over 30 years of experience working in the high-end textile and clothing business. She received her initial training in textiles and design principles from the College of Home Economics, Peshawar University, and got a diploma in marketing from Boston College in 1987. She established and ran her own brand, Zargul, based in Islamabad from 1988-2001. At its peak, she employed 70 skilled artisans in an operation that catered to a local and international clientele. After moving to Canada in 2001, Samina worked for various high-end fashion businesses in Toronto. She interacted with top design houses in the world whose products were stocked at these premium stores. She learnt about brand specialization strategies and riding the dynamics of the market place.
She took up a position as head of design and business development at Indus Heritage Trust, Pakistan in 2016. She got an insight into donor-funded initiatives geared towards reviving endangered crafts intertwined with rural women empowerment. Firsthand recognition of the gaps in these projects has led her to envision setting up SheWorks
Mahnoor has a textile art background and extensive hands-on experience working closely with the artisan's communities. She has deep knowledge of the culture and understands the best practices for skill empowerment
She works on design development and sampling prototypes as well as overseeing the production for clients
Munira Amin has more than two decades of experience in artisan product development. She is a specialist in artisan training and artisanal production methodologies. She has worked on numerous Social Design projects and developed product ranges both for regional and global markets.
Handwork Studio, Toronto
Training and Fundraising Support
Get in Touch
Unit 2. Second Floor.
Bahria Enclave. Islamabad.
Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm
Sat & Sunday Closed
Preparing Communities for Business
A systematic formal assessment of the available skills and required skills in craft development traditions helps to incorporate the result in the training curriculum. Carrying out a skill gap study is important to determine and improve existing skills, add missing ones and design support frameworks for future requirements.