Craft Stories was founded by Huma Adnan in collaboration with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2018 to economically empower artisans from marginalised communities and refugee* camps at Karachi’s Al-Asif Square. It has mobilised a group of women from the camp on the outskirts of Karachi; a group of about 25 female artisans were mentored, helped to hone their craft, taught new techniques, introduced to designs for urban population, provided with all the required raw material and then tasked to create jewellery under the mentorship of Adnan herself.
What stands out about the collections is the impeccable craftsmanship and contemporary designs. The artisans who have made these pieces bring with them their traditional handicrafts, like Afghan hand techniques, which are passed on from one generation to the other, and are an integral part of their culture. The melange of traditional techniques, modern designs and ‘meaningful fashion’ makes every piece by Craft Stories a collector’s item.
In a way, Craft Stories is part of sustainable fashion as it creates jobs and allows the artisans to become self sufficient. The jewellery-making skill women refugees have acquired is “a passport to come out of the vicious circle of poverty”, confirms Adnan.
Say hello to Sharifa Bibi.
Sharifa Bibi is an Afghan refugee and a mother of four, who has been working as an artisan at Craft Stories. She has been living in Sohrab Goth in Karachi for the last 16 years. “I feel like I am making a difference, like I have finally found my purpose [in life],” she said. Explaining the tedious process of making a single piece, she added, “it used to take an entire day to make an earring when I first started. But now I can now make multiple pairs in a single day.”
For her, the happiest time of the day is when refugee women gather in the morning for handcrafting activity. It also brings her immense joy and pride when her handcrafted bangles, earrings and necklaces are showcased on a runway and worn by supermodels and actors.
- Currently, approximately 1.4 million refugees live in Pakistan who have not been naturalised or allowed to live a normal life. Most of them reside in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan but some 63,000 are residing in Sindh, mostly in Karachi city.