Fuchsia: Kickstarting the Ethinic Pakistani Footwear Revolution

These are the times of social enterprises. Those are the kind of endeavors which are making it big now days. Markhor anyone?

The newest entrant in this line of business is Fuchsia. Fuchsia is a startup based in Seattle that is aiming to take ethnic women’s footwear from Pakistan to the mainstream audiences.

Fuchsia’s kick-starter profile has set a funding goal of $10,000 USD which it has already surpassed with almost a month to go to the cutoff date.

Fuchsia has a similar premise to Markhor, i.e. cutting out the middlemen, empowering rural artisans and bringing their products to the world.

Fuchsia however sells different products than Markhor. Fuchsia has a variety of ethnically inspired women’s shoes. The USP of Fuchsia is that they are not aiming at replicating what the west is already familiar with, but instead are going to introduce a whole new category so as to bring something unique to the market.

In an interview, the two founders of Fuchsia, Ms. Afshan Abbas and Mr. Rameez Sajwani mentioned that they left their jobs at Inrix and Amazon respectively, to start Fuchsia. Mr. Afshan and Mr. Rameez are both Pakistanis who are settled in Seattle.

According to Ms. Afshan, the CEO, “I brought back a few pairs of shoes to the US after a trip to Pakistan approximately two years ago. When I wore them, I received tons of compliments from coworkers, strangers on the street, and friends. That got me thinking about the viability of the idea as traditional handmade shoes aren’t readily available in the US and people find them very different and unique.”

Afshan is a self-confessed fanatic for shoes. She said that she first begun talking about the idea with her colleagues. It took two years to do the market research and validation. During these two years, the founders exhibited their products at various events and shows. Their products got an “overwhelming response,” which convinced them to quit their jobs and follow this path full-time.

“We’ve always wanted to build a product that benefits others and makes a difference in the world,” mentioned Mr. Rameez. “That’s why we left our jobs.”

The talented artisans

The shoes that are sold by Fuchsia are handmade by a team of artisans in rural Punjab. As per Mr. Rameez, they have stringent quality controls and robust procedures. Both founders made multiple visits to Pakistan, and stayed on-site with the workers to make sure that the processes are strong and the quality the best possible.

“We wanted to understand their culture, how they work, and their lifestyle,” said Mr. Rameez. “Engaging them directly helps us have more control over quality, design, and manufacturing, whilst also assisting them with better wages and other benefits.”

As mentioned, Fuchsia is a startup and one of its goals is to hire a permanent team of artisans, which they are hoping to do with the Kickstarter funding. Currently they bring artisans onboard as demand dictates.

Although the founders are Pakistani and their products are currently underpinned by Pakistani culture, Fuchsia does not want to completely rely on this narrow vision. Another goal that Fuchsia is aiming at is to create a platform where ethnic goods from across the world can be showcased to the world.

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