Exclusive press launch 19th October 2018 (Friday) 5pm to 8pm Change the narrative Sometimes partnerships are just destined to happen, and that is true of Polly and Other Stories, a Karachi-based startup with a vision to promote Pakistani craft on the world stage. However, this is not just any startup; with a mission to give back to the community and a proven track record across Pakistan, founders Angela Braid and Amneh Shaikh-Farooqui are hardly amateurs. Their years of experience shows in their passion for quality and integrity, and in their belief in their brand. Polly and Other Stories had until recently been an ecommerce website with the aim to connect talented artisans, artists, makers and small entrepreneurs from communities across Pakistan with consumers around the nation and around the world. When doors opened on the Polly and Other Stories store in Y Block in DHA Lahore on 16 th August, the citizens of Pakistan’s second biggest city suddenly had a new way to access Polly and Other Stories name brand products as well as those made by 60 brands of handicrafts and art, including clothes, homewares, accessories and toys, that partner with Polly.
Angela and Amneh had both been working with not-for-profits in Pakistan for several years when they met while working on a development project in Southern Punjab and Interior Sindh a few years ago. What began as a friendship was also a meeting of the minds; Angela had experience in product development and marketing while Amneh was well versed in women’s economic empowerment and market access for the poor. Angela, originally from Australia, had worked with her sister earlier on a brand called Polly and Me, while Amneh spent her childhood going from village to village with her mother, who was one of the pioneers of the microenterprise movement in Pakistan.
This engendered her love of craft, community and culture – a passion that both partners want to infuse in their brand. With the success of a 6 month long pop-up store in Islamabad and several exhibitions, the duo realised the potential for growth and the opportunity for further development that existed and that would generate greater sales for craftspeople and creators. The logical next step was to open a permanent ‘bricks and mortar’ concept store in one of Pakistan’s metropolitan hubs. “We know that in Pakistan offline sales are ten times more than those online and we want people to be able to physically see and touch and experience the products, particularly for the smaller brands” says Amneh. The cofounders participated in the Karandaaz Pakistan’s
Women Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2017, which is sponsored by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and won investment funding to set up their dream store. As for the future, Polly and Other Stories wants to work with its suppliers to further enhance their own name brand product range and of course, maintain their upward trajectory of development, community building and women’s empowerment. “We would love to take local craft and turn it into a wonderful, globally recognised brand for Pakistan, but we are also excited to do the same thing here. Rather than simply expanding abroad, we want to show that there’s a large enough market in Pakistan for products proudly produced in Pakistan!” says Amneh. A company which has the interests of both its makers, workers and the nation at its heart is cause for celebration, and Polly and Other Stories is indeed a celebration; a celebration of Pakistan, its people, its women, its makers and doers and its culture. The Polly & Other Stories concept store opened doors to customers in August 2018.