In Her Words / A Letter from Samina Mahmud to Ibu Allies

In Her Words
I have worked in the high-end fashion/textile industry for over 25 years in many roles from design and production, to sales and marketing. In 2016, I began work at a non-profit with a grant from the World Bank to revive heritage hand embroideries from South Punjab and Sindh province of Pakistan. This was my formal initiation into the world of heritage textile craft, and I was stunned by the diversity and depth of the regional hand embroideries. It was an exciting voyage of discovery.

In January 2020, I founded SheWorks as a social enterprise, continuing to work with the women we had previously trained and supported who were now in need of work. I empathize and identify with these rural women who are supporting their families with their beautiful craft. The energy they put into these artistic designs is amazing—with so many hardships, they still have the motivation to be creative. 

At SheWorks, we partner directly with five skilled groups of artisans in four communities. Each group consists of 20 to 25 women. In addition, we support the local fabric and thread dealers. Our impact radiates to over 1200 people and is growing.

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Setting up a business in Pakistan has been harder than expected. Despite market access, relevant experience, and access to skilled craftswomen, it has been a challenge. COVID, too, posed problems but we kept working, never stopping. Our responsibility for the artisans working with us kept us forging ahead.

The Ibu Foundation came to our aid when we struggled to pay our artisans due to order cancelations early on in COVID. With the grants we received, we paid salaries and provided masks to our artisans to keep work flowing. We set up a design workshop in our Islamabad office, enabling us to get production samples to buyers. SheWorks also received funds from the Foundation for a new website to showcase the women’s remarkable embroidery skills and appeal to other businesses. The Ibu Foundation’s trust gave me and my team confidence at a difficult time and we are so grateful.

I want to thank the Ibu donors who support us and the customers who buy our products. The artisans know about Ibu and are excited when we start your orders. Each article is lovingly made with their best wishes and prayers. The women here feel a connection to Ibu customers, and the craft is an invisible bridge between the two worlds, which are not really that different as far as women are concerned.

Warm Regards,
Samina Mahmud
SheWorks Founder and Creative Director

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