I finally met Anam Mukri yesterday, and boy was it worth the wait! Anam designs beautiful evening bags for her boutique bag line, Zanbeel. She graduated from the University Of East London with a double major in Textile and Surface Decoration, and Business Studies. She started Zanbeel when she realized the only way to find the perfect bag was to create it herself.
I’ve been on the lookout for karigars (local craftsmen helping us as bagmakers) to help stitch our non-leather bags, and a friend connected me with Anam to explore the possibility of getting her karigar to make our bags. We had envisioned these non-leather bags to be pretty simple and hadn’t put much thought into the non-embroidery part of their designs. Consequently, I thought our meeting would be a quick handing over of the embroidery samples and rough sketches of each bag shape/design for her to explain to her karigar. I was wrong: Anam was really excited about the idea of BLISS and being a complete natural at design, put her creativity to work right away. She came up with great design ideas and solutions on the fly and helped me polish our sketches into really fun and professionally complete models. She has a dedicated karigar who will start working on about four very diverse samples for us this week. I can’t wait to see how they turn out – updates in about a week, stay posted. :)
Anam’s one of those people who have an unlimited supply of ideas that leave you with that rare post-meeting energy high, so we also talked about local market strategy and some exciting organizations she could help BLISS partner with to market our bags. She’s also interested in using some of our embroideries in the latest line of products (not handbags!) for Zanbeel – an exciting prospect given what I saw of the initial patterns (sketched on-the-spot, of course) she wants us to create.
Here’s to a great partnership with Anam and Zanbeel! Do check out Zanbeel on Facebook.
I’m very excited to report that after months of designing, prototyping and hounding karigars (local bagmakers) we finally have the first BLISS handbag. I love that this bag is shaped like a roomy work/everyday bag, but still has a fun, colourful thing going. And it fits my laptop!
This first finished prototype didn’t come out exactly the way we imagined – we had wanted natural brown leather straps instead of black, bigger handles, cuter zips, contrasting sides, and most importantly, a delivery date closer than two months after what we had agreed upon! Nevertheless, I think our karigar – whose expertise is making laptop bags – did a good job of translating our ideas – and my childish drawings – into practice. One of the important breakthroughs we made with him was finding the perfect material for lining our cloth bags so they would be sturdy without looking cardboard-stiff – I know it sounds simple, but it was a major struggle trying to get this right with the bagmakers we tried before. So, thank you to Zahid at Annuji Leather.
Would love to hear feedback on our first bag as we do a final fine-tuning of this design.
Sana Kazmi, dear friend and fellow MIT alumna, has joined the BLISS team in Karachi. She is probably my most patriotic friend, and feels passionately about education in Pakistan. Icing on the cake: she also has a keen eye for fashion! We’re delighted to have you on board, Sana.