BLISS Impresses Bay Area!

BLISS’ beautiful handbags and clutches from the Sozankaar collection were featured at an event held by the Association for the Development of Pakistan (ADP) in Atherton, CA on November 7, 2012.

ADP is a volunteer-based organization that researches and funds development projects by small to medium-sized NGOs in Pakistan, in various sectors such as economic empowerment, energy, education and healthcare.

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BLISS bags at the event

Tarim Wasim, ADP Co-Founder & Director, extended an invitation to BLISS to highlight and support the work of former ADP volunteers such as our CEO, Saba.

Our Bay Area ambassador, Harmeet Gill represented us at the event and took the attendees through the production process of our exquisite bags and shared with them BLISS’s mission, story, and information about the amazing women embroidering the handbags.

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Harmeet Gill, BLISS Bay Area Ambassador

In addition, attendees learned about ADP’s goals and vision for the development and progress of Pakistani communities and NGOs.  The guest speaker was Sabira Qureshi, Founder and Managing Trustee of the Jamshed Akhtar Qureshi Education (JAQ) Trust.  She spoke about the collaboration between ADP and JAQ to fund simple yet sturdy temporary and mobile schools for children living in ‘katchi abadis’ (slum areas) in and around Islamabad as a part of a nomadic community.

Her background in addressing issues of poverty, gender equality, human and social development and her work ranging from activism for women’s human rights to serving as a member on the first permanent National Commission on the Status of Women in Pakistan truly complemented BLISS’ mission.

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Attendee looking at Black Phulkari clutch

Throughout the event, the attendees admired the bags and were impressed by the exquisite work and quality of the handbags, some taking a bag back home with them!

BLISS at the i2i Accelerator!

It’s been an exciting month for the social entrepreneurship space in Pakistan! Invest2Innovate (i2i), an intermediary organization that aims to support early stage social enterprises in new markets, launched the i2i Accelerator, the first ever social entrepreneurship accelerator, in Lahore. We’re excited to be among the first cohort of enterprises selected for this program!

The first cycle of the program, running from November 2012 to January 2013, consists of four two-day workshops tackling topics such as business model development,  investment strategy, human capital retention, etc., all leading up to a pitch event in January, connecting entrepreneurs to potential funders and investors.

The five fabulous enterprises taking part include: BLISSEcoEnergy FinanceRenewable Energy Solutionsmilk’Op and Organic Pine Nut Enterprise (OPEN).

The accelerator is being hosted at the Suleman Dawood School of Business at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Mentors for the first weekend included Adnan Afaq, who has served as CEO of Askari Investment and is currently the CEO of Pakistan Credit Rating Agency, and Asad Zahoor, Director of the USAID Agribusiness Support Fund.

Big thanks to Kalsoom, Salman and Uzair of i2i for organizing such a fun, incredibly knowledgeable event!

Advisory Board Spotlight: Scott Leonard

Meet Scott Leonard – eco-fashion pioneer and ardent advocate for the environment, organics and social justice. And the newest person on our Advisory Board!

Scott is CEO and co-founder of Indigenous Designs – the first premium fashion company to receive fair-trade certification. Founded in 1994, the company boasts a supply chain of more than 1,500 artisans in knitting groups and cooperatives from South America, and an organic clothing line featured on the racks of Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and other high-fashion boutiques around the world. Not only are the employees guaranteed fair living wages, they are rewarded for socially conscious behavior outside of work such as earning two dollars extra per day for biking to work! Read a great interview with Scott about the challenges and future of sustainable fashion here.

In Scott’s words:

We like to say that the sweet spot of Indigenous is someplace between sustainability and serendipity.

Scott first met our CEO Saba at the Unreasonable Institute last year, and since then has been engaged with our model, and has met Saba frequently to offer his advice on scaling the enterprise.

Scott with Saba at the Unreasonable Investor Day in San Francisco

Huge thanks to Scott for joining our fabulous Advisory Board of leaders and game changers! We look forward to his valuable insights and wealth of experience to illuminate the road ahead!

New York just got BLISS^3!

Meet Hildy Simmons, our newest BLISS Ambassador!

A graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Ms. Simmons has been involved with the philanthropic community for over two decades. Along with the fabulous Lorraine Adams and Sohela Shah, she is our third BLISS Ambassador in New York!

Hildy met our founder Saba earlier this year at the Echoing Green finals, where Saba was a finalist and Hildy was a judge. Over an informal dinner chat, Saba explained the BLISS Ambassadors Program to Hildy, who instantly asked to be signed up as one!

Hildy is the ex-Managing Director and Head of the Global Foundations Group at JPMorgan Private Bank, overseeing the grant making of more than 40 foundations. Prior to joining JP Morgan, she held several positions in New York City and State government.

She currently serves on the Boards of the Taconic Foundation and the Mary J. Hutchins Foundation and works as a consultant – advising select clients on their philanthropic activities.

Hildy will be receiving her first shipment of bags in time to spread some BLISSful products in Brooklyn for Christmas! She is excited about finding retail partners for us in Brooklyn, a city famous for its eclectic taste in fashion and its quaint boutique stores. Of course, we’re equally excited to have her on board!

BLISS Hits Deepak Perwani’s NYC Fashion Show!

From Lahore to London to New York, you name it: our lust-worthy handbags are going places! A select number of BLISS bags were featured at renowned Pakistani designer Deepak Perwani‘s Fashion Show, presented by Mokah on Thursday, September 17 at the Bohemian National Hall in NYC.

BLISS handbags featured at the event. Photo by Kristy Rao

Sohela Shah, our ambassador in NYC, represented us at the event, and showcased our handbags to an audience that included  Pakistan Deputy Ambassador Robin Raphel and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.S, Sherry Rehman, among others.

Sohela Shah, BLISS NYC Ambassador

The event, titled ‘Visions of Hope‘, premièred Deepak’s latest collection which aims to transcend cultural barriers while exemplifying the magnificence of Pakistani tradition. In Deepak’s own words, his designs stand for ”fusion, for progression, for breaking the boundaries of Pakistani fashion and pushing the envelope as far as you can you go.” This ethos blends perfectly with Mokah’s mission to empower women and designers in Pakistan by providing them with access to international markets in an attempt to bridge cultures.

Deepak’s collection. Photo by Kristy Rao

Models sashayed the ramp in Perwani’s captivating designs which featured bright colors and bejewelled tunics and dresses. In addition to showcasing Deepak’s new collection, the event promoted a dialogue about the importance of providing Pakistani textile products better access to American markets. Speakers included Shannon Grewer, founder of Fashion for Pakistan Flood Relief, and Mara Burr, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative.

Shannon speaking at the event. Photo credit: Kristy Rao

Watch this space for some more exciting news about a design partnership between BLISS, Mokah and Deepak to promote Pakistani culture and crafts in the US!