In Her Words: Dreaming Big in Pakistan

I have always been passionate about my work, and about telling the stories of the women behind each product created at SheWorks. SheWorks is a social enterprise dedicated to partnering with women artisans of Pakistan and to marketing their handcrafted products. Through my work, the Ibu Movement recognized a flame within me, and I am forever grateful. 

A little over a year ago, I was invited to Charleston to be recognized as a Global Champion at the International Women’s Day Fringe Revolution event, and during this trip I understood even more clearly the potential of the Ibu Marketplace to elevate the artisanal work of global women. I was so touched by the hospitality and goodwill of everyone I met during my stay, and this gave me the energy and inspiration to dream bigger. I realized that SheWorks could do the same in our own country: we have the artisans, the skills, the products, and the buyers—I felt that it was time to launch the first SheWorks flagship store in the capital city of Islamabad.

When I approached Ibu about this dream, they encouraged my vision. The Ibu Foundation connected with a donor who was interested in funding an Ibu outpost, and the project moved extremely quickly. I knew that a flagship store would create more opportunities for women of all ages, and could attract the younger generation who often chooses a career path outside the cultural heritage corridor. Since we opened our showroom’s doors on January 23, 2024, we are giving more work to the 100 women artisans in South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; we are selling our products at a higher premium; and we are paying the women higher wages. Most importantly, the women feel more valued and have a more positive mindset.

The project has been so successful that we have taken a chance on an unbelievable opportunity to move into a larger space in an ideal location—one that will be our home forever. This new establishment will be more than just a flagship store where we sell our products—it will provide a total experience for shoppers and a connection with the artisans. We are thrilled to open and celebrate this new space in April, at the end of Ramadan. 

Ibu also funded a series of training sessions for artisans over the next seven months that will take place in this space, including crocheting and knitting workshops, and an artwork embroidery workshop led by Canadian designers. We plan to offer designer pop-up shops, host talks by local leaders and visionaries, provide artisan-lead workshops, and so much more to engage our community.

I must say again that my trip to Charleston was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will cherish forever. Our community has started acknowledging the work and contributions of our artisan partners just like you acknowledged us. You welcomed me into the Ibu family, and I met so many supporters cheering us on. One of our Ibu allies, Vickie Neighbour, and her husband, Pete, just visited SheWorks on their trip to Pakistan, and when I saw her, tears filled both of our eyes. Words didn’t need to be spoken—we were Ibus and we were connected. 

As you can tell, the impact of the Ibu Movement's support goes beyond just the flagship store itself. It's about elevating other women, following our passion and dreams, and believing in the power of craft and community. 

With Gratitude, 

Samina Mahmud