Marium Hamid talks toÂ Mahjabeen ObaidÂ a pioneer of luxury invitations in PakistanÂ
What is your idea of style for the modern woman?
Minimal make up, pulled back hair, straight pants and a simple shirt with fun accessories. Also lots of arm candy, a statement handbag and comfortable shoes.
Which living person do you most admire for his or her signature style?
Tom Ford hands down.
What is the trait you most admire in people?
Being real! There is nothing more admirable than a person who knows who they are and are comfortable in their skin.
No one is completely honest as everyone watches out for
their best interest
What is your greatest extravagance?
Jewellery!Â Isn’t it always!
What is your favorite journey?
Family vacations with my father were always the most fun and extravagant. We would pick a destination and then drive around from city to city, exploring! All those holidays were just fantastic: lots of laughter, singing to tunes, stopping and exploring the food. I cherish each of those memorable journeys and that time spent together.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Honesty. No one is completely honest as everyone watches out for their best interest.
How are you using your medium to promote and maintain Pakistan’s culture?
At Mahj Design Studios all our fabric invitations, boxes and announcements are handmade using raw materials that are sourced from Pakistan. We use fabrics and colors that are symbolic to our culture in bright Jamawars, silks and hand woven cottons. We design a lot of wedding monograms in Urdu and our customers abroad love the ethnic feel it adds to the overall look of the invitation.
We have also used truck art. It is one of the most widely recognized art and culture forms associated with Pakistani culture. The most appreciated were Christmas tree ornaments for customers abroad as corporate gifts.
Mahj Design Studios was started in 2008 to cater to the emerging demands of customers who wanted quality wedding invitations in Karachi but didn’t know where to find them. Â It rapidly gained recognition online and surprisingly Pakistanis settled abroad became the core clientele who wanted a ‘touch of home’ for their wedding invitations. In 2010 Mahj Design Studios expanded into wedding favors, baby announcements, personalized stationery and notecards. Mahj Design Studios works with customers and wedding planners designing invitations according to the colors and theme of the wedding where each invitation is carefully designed and tailored, not only to meet, but to exceed the expectations of its customers with exclusivity and differentiation. We are now expanding into home accessories and lifestyle products so stay tuned for our new inspiring venture!Â
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Colour colour colour! make the design pop! Make it look fresh and happy.
While I enjoy designing the elegant black and white invitations for non-Pakistani weddings abroad, I feel that our weddings are the one time in our lives where family and friends join together in music and dance, mehndis and chooris! The invitation is a prelude to the wedding so it should reflect that vibe! It should set the tone for what’s to come.
To successfully transmit that energy into an invitation requires a lot of knowledge of fonts and design symbols. Anyone can print fuchsia pink or orange on a card but to be able to make the font, colour and designs all work well together requires knowledge and exposure.
What is your greatest achievement?
Professionally I think it has yet to come as I set the bar really high for myself and keep pushing the possibilities. However, recently Mahj Design Studios has had the honour of being included among the most reputable couture wedding invitation companies around the world.
The feature and link to this website is below
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family and designing. A designer’s mind is always in motion,Â observing and absorbing. I am constantly storing knowledge somewhere at the back of my mind to revisit that memory at a later stage.
What in the future would you consider your greatest achievement?
I would like to open a couture stationery outlet for our walk-in clients in Karachi as we currently only meet by pre-scheduled appointments. I would also stock at retail stores across the globe, PAPYRUS stores being a good benchmark for achievement.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
I would have to say me! I am very intrigued by myself and my mind. Sometimes I sit in solitude and listen to the whispers of my mind’s eye and then an idea just pops and I go with it.
Recently Mahj Design Studios has had the honour of being included among the most reputable couture wedding invitation companies around the world
What is your most marked characteristic in the world of art?
Being the pioneer of making luxury invitations and stationery in Pakistan where each one of our pieces is a work of art. Our handmade invitations are bespoke pieces that stand apart in their creativity and artistic expression. One of our most extravagant pieces would have to be the ones we made for a royal wedding where we hand-carved a design inspired by Islamic architecture. It took a long time but the results were breathtaking.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
A woman who can balance work, family, friends and run a home.
What advice would you like to give teenage girls?
To complete their education and to work; to make their own money, and to travel and see the world. Never rely on another person for your happiness: it comes from within. Be strong enough to voice your opinions and never internalize. Scream if you feel like it, get stark raving mad, speak your mind and make your stance very clear. We live in a society where girls are meant to brush things under the carpet and are told not to confront. The most important advice would be to be assertive so that no one takes advantage of you.
How do you strike a balance between work, home and children?
With lots of coffee and help from my husband and my mother. Everything is on a schedule. I honestly think that working mothers spend the most amount of quality time with their children as they are so focused in being present both physically and mentally to make up for the lost time when they are away.
Considering that women in Pakistan are receiving increased recognition for their contribution to the economy, how does your venture support women?
Most of our invitations and favor boxes are all hand-made by women which is the main source of income for their families. We carry out training classes for them as this type of artwork requires a lot of practice and precision and while teaching them the art of making our exquisite boxes with fabrics and crystal, their eyes light up with the vibrancy of color and feel of the soft silks. Teaching them an art that they too can become masters of their own destiny.
As a woman, what difficulties have you faced in starting your venture? Please mention anyone who stands out in their support in helping your work.
No difficulties at all, I started Mahj Design Studios in 2008 and it has grown internationally since then. We actually prefer working with clients abroad as it is much easier to communicate via email and skype. Also less interference by the clients let’s us have more control over the design process which is what we are hired to do.
Name an essential quality an artist-turned-entrepreneur needs in an emerging market.
One needs to be able to market their work properly. They must first know who their customer is and try and find avenues to approach them.
Where do you see yourself as an entrepreneur 5 years from now?
With retail outlets of our own, and being sold at PAPYRUS
Name a local home-grown brand whose success you admire.
Text & coordination | Marium Ali Khan
Photography | Gibran Jamshed
Hair & makeup | Saman Zubair
at Saman Salon & Spa
Necklace | Outhouse
(Sana Hafeez Shaikh the Official Representative of Outhouse Indian Jewelry in Pakistan)