Born and raised in Pakistan, I grew up in a middle-class family. I experienced a unique situation, where attaining basic education had become a challenge. I walked for miles every day to reach the local academy, sometimes took public transportation, as a young woman, in some of the most dangerous pockets of the city. I even had to quit school for a couple of years and began teaching myself, when paying for school became too much for my family. Having experienced the inaccessibility to education first hand, I decided to do something about it. And so, I founded a non-profit,
with the mission to deliver scholarships to children in need. Eight years later, the non-profit has helped send more than a hundred students to school. My profile caught the eye of the University of British Columbia, who gave me a generous scholarship. With that, I packed my bags and headed out west six years ago, becoming the first in my family to move outside Pakistan to pursue further education. Jarsss is the culmination of those years of hard work. This business is my chance to combine my passion for design, high-quality craftsmanship, and social activism together into one life-changing business.
As a recent grad, I did not have the luxury to take the financial risk to validate the idea. So, I decided to work for an Education Startup in Toronto. After almost two years, the tiny voice in my head asked me to redirect my focus to this idea. With that in mind, I quit my job and moved back to Karachi for a few months. It was stressful because it was a gamble, as I was leaving a stable job to work on something that may or may not work out. I remember being up at 3:00AM one night thinking about different ways I could fail at this. My dad noticed that and tried to understand what was holding me back. I told him about the financial drain this would be and in response, he made a generous offer, he promised that in case no one other than my mom buys the products, he would cover the startup cost. Although, it never got to that point, these words gave me the push to experiment. I'm grateful that I had someone in my life to promise me that support but I also understand that it's a privilege to have parents who support these crazy ideas of leaving a stable job to 'try-out' an idea. After the launch, I did get back to working full-time for another startup in the Valley, Skylight. It's a construction startup and I work there as a Process Manager. Interestingly enough, everything I learn in my day job can be in some ways applied to Jarsss, so I see this an expedited way to learn the inside and out of running a business. Truthfully, it has also been a source of inspiration because it's a constant reminder that putting yourself on the map doesn't happen overnight, it's playing a long-game that eventually yields results. During the week, I work on solving some of the most interesting challenges pertaining to the construction industry and over the weekends, I focus on creating functional accessories for young professionals in Canada.
Starting a business and asking other people to buy your creation means shaking a lot of hands, cold-calling and pitching your ideas to every stranger who might be a potential investor. Whereas, I grew up as an introvert, who dreaded spotlight, so no, I never thought of starting a business. I have always been curious about other people's experiences so I thought becoming a talk show host would give me the opportunity to interview people and learn about their perspectives. I don't think it's not too distanced from what I do at Jarsss, today. Jarsss is unique in a way that it's not mass produced, it's created in limited quantities to keep things special. That has shaped the way I interact with anyone interested in owning Jarsss products. It's a very personal exchange, where I share my story, listen to theirs and this exchange gives me an insight into how each one of has a story. Then, if someone chooses to buy a Jarsss product, I basically become part of their narrative and they become a part of my journey. In my opinion, that's way better than having just a conversation as this exchange is more permanent and a constant reminder of grit, resilience and hope.