Business Name: Veranda at Five, a contemporary home design brand
Type of Business: Home & Housewares
Business Location: Pakistan
Reason for starting: Behind Veranda at Five are 3 sisters, Mariam Hussain, Mahin Hussain and Zainab Hussain. With her own fashion accessories label, Mahin gets a kick out of vibrant colours, bold patterns and textile and texture. Zainab finds she is drawn towards dying crafts and old textile techniques. The lone graphic designer in the outfit, Mariam is usually found hyperventilating about bad design and is passionate about visual communication of all types. We found ourselves frustrated with the design options available to us in the Pakistani market since they catered to two very distinct consumer groups- the ones who loved classic ethnic design and the ones who liked over-embellished slightly art nouveau design. There was no place for contemporary design that was proudly Pakistani in origin but brilliantly simple in aesthetics. Design evoking a sense of bliss, comfort and your happy place. Design that never stagnates and pays homage to the richness that is our culture but always with a fresh contemporary perspective. The name goes back to a time when they spent hours in their veranda playing, talking, listening to their grandparents and enjoying many afternoons of tea and gossip. Veranda at Five is home to textile accessories, well-designed products and simply thought out ideas. With two textile designers, and one graphic designer, we always manage to strike the right balance between traditional craft and trendy design.
How do you define success? At our first exhibition, we showcased a varied collection of home accessories, but the ones which had people’s eyes glistening and their emotions rising to the surface were our karachi tributes. To see all types of people respond to that nostalgia, express their absolute delight, appreciate the design factor, be able to distinguish between our design sensibility and regular traditional design and be effusive about their love for our design was a big high for us. Monetary success is meaningless if we don’t manage to connect with our audience and in essence ‘get’ them.
Biggest Success: We have successfully revived a couple of long-lost design elements and have made them trendy must-haves. The ‘shamyana’ a pattern used on wedding tents in the eighties. Nuggets of history which this generation has no awareness of: Ava Gardner Suite at Faletti Hotel in Lahore, Nightclub at Old Palace Hotel in Karachi, Ras Muari, the lighthouse. We have reinvented them invoking a spirit of romanticism and love.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? Production in Pakistan albeit cheaper than other countries, comes with its own set of problems and constraints. City shutdowns, Electricity failures, Gang warfare, often result in days of lost production and massive delays. We decided to create an insulated workshop investing in a production manager we absolutely can’t do without, and allowing work to continue without too much disturbance. The other challenge we face constantly is a lack of training among artisans here. They are brilliant, talented and very proficient, but are used to their own way of working and due to a lack of training are not able to adapt too easily to new methods. We are still working on overcoming this particular challenge.
Who is your most important role model? Individually, we look up to different people, as a brand we aspire to achieve what other brands have, but no one role model.
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