Pakistan is brimming with fresh talent when it comes to the creative arts, but how does one turn their passion into their profession?
At Katalyst Labs, we aim to highlight young entrepreneurs, communities, and businesses that are innovative, cutting-edge, and push the envelope.
FNK-کاری: Where Art & Business Collide
Following on from Founder’s Forum, our second event for Global Entrepreneurship Week focused on creative entrepreneurship, shining a light on Pakistan’s young entrepreneurs and their creative potential.
FNK-کاری explored the intersection between art and business. The event featured pop-ups and conversations by up-and-coming young creative entrepreneurs such as FT.WA’s Shams Mansur, Areeb Tariq, Shaun Ansari, and Anarchy – some of whom have been featured on this list!
1. Shams Mansur
Liberated. Controversial. Real. Unapologetic. Anarchic.
Following a 10-year stint in the advertising industry, Shams founded FT.WA. FT.WA – an acronym for Forward Thinking. Woven Attitude – is a visual content and design-focused studio.
The word “diaspora” is all too familiar to Shams as a British-born Pakistani. FT.WA is a defiant product of the limbo that characterizes diasporic culture and life. This is a feeling many both within and outside of the community can relate to.
For Shams, FT.WA was an intense feeling, converted into bite-size 1-minute dystopian reality videos. The aim was to shift the narrative and show Pakistanis in an unfiltered but relatable light.
As a design collective, FT.WA’s mission is to celebrate the youth’s creative movement for cultural liberation and to open a contemporary conversation on Pakistani culture.
Shams and her curated team of misfits use the medium of street culture and the evolution of streetwear to spark conversations. FT.WA believes that their positive utilization of such concepts will provide them access to traditionally closed-off and prestigious spaces. Not only will this make the process more accessible for young entrepreneurs, but also for creatives who deserve real representation.
“Do not feel like you ever need to be boxed into a category. Make your own identity… be disobedient in the work you do- break the mold & figure things out for yourselves.”
2. Areeb Tariq
It takes a lot of courage to risk everything, focus on doing what you love, and make art as disruptive as Areeb’s!
Areeb Tariq is an experimental designer and artist working in digital art, animation, fashion and installations. He received his bachelors in Visual Arts and Communication Design from EMU, North Cyprus.
As a young entrepreneur, Areeb believes collaboration is key. Areeb has collaborated with companies including Uber, Airlift, Bykea, Ultrarev, and has designed for web, mobile, wearables and emerging technology. He has also worked with artists including Talal Qureshi, Faris Shafi and Maanu.
Areeb’s work explores themes of love, identity, and belonging while celebrating the connection between humankind, nature, and the afterlife.
3. Zain Ahmad
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However, Rastah is much more than a fashion brand. It is a movement which reinterprets South Asian heritage and narratives through innovative design in streetwear.
Rastah’s unique pieces embody Ahmad’s philosophy and personal journey, echoing themes of identity, struggle, and community. Moreover, Rastah prides itself on fostering a collaborative relationship with local artisans based on mutual respect and fair pay.
A South Asian label making noise in the world of high fashion and luxury is practically unheard of, which makes Rastah’s success one an inspiring one. The brand been featured in Vogue, Hypebae, and Vice. Additionaly, celebrities such as Anil Kapoor, Karan Johar, Riz Ahmed, and French Montana have all been seen sporting Rastah!
4. Amneh Shaikh-Farooqui
Amneh has experience in the social development sector, with expertise in program development & management, research, gender mainstreaming and developing pro-poor markets.
In an attempt to change the narrative around handmade Pakistani craft, Amneh founded polly & other stories. The brand is an e-commerce initiative that aims to give “big voices to little ventures”.
Through polly & other stories, Amneh brings to the market artisanal products, created by small enterprises in their homes or in remote villages that are excluded from mainstream markets. Through their work, the brand bridges the gap for talented craftspeople who were unable to benefit from the demand for authentic and handmade items.
Polly & other stories has leveraged technology tools to assist with production and social media needs and reach a bigger audience for their products. They have also dedicated resources to support artisans through design and product development in conjunction with training interventions.
They currently estimate their reach to be around 1,000 artisans and are aiming to scale to 5,000 in the next five years!
5. Shaun Ansari
“Unreal is becoming more and more powerful with every version. It’s not a magic bullet but it allows people to experiment in real time.”
— katalystlabspk (@LabsKatalyst) November 21, 2022
Shaun Ansari is an Unreal-authorized Instructor partner at Epic Games and the Co-Founder of Reality Forge. Reality Forge is Pakistan’s first Unreal-authorized training center, ensuring accessible mentorship to anybody, anywhere in Pakistan.
Before his current venture, Shaun worked in the visual effects industry in Beijing. At Reality Forge, he is working on training the next generation of real-time content creators that will build games, experiences, and worlds using the Unreal Engine. The project began with a handful of members in March 2022 has now grown to over 600 individuals over 8 cohorts.
At FNK-کاری the young entrepreneur conducted a practical session on the Unreal Engine, using Photogrammetry – a 3D modelling technique. This gave our attendees a glimpse of how to turn photos into objects in real time and use them in Unreal Engine.
Creating a movement centered around dance and Hip-Hop, in particular, is not easy in a country like Pakistan. Anarchy is a Hip-Hop dance crew that pledges to do just that!
Anarchy has over a decade of experience in teaching, performing, competing, and choreographing. They have previously worked with well-known artists and performed in music videos, concerts, commercials, and award ceremonies. Anarchy’s main goal is to give a platform to local artists to explore their passion to the fullest.
Taishi and the crew of young entrepreneurs are now working to make Anarchy a sustainable business so that they can put Pakistan on the global Hip-Hop map. Their underground show series ‘Our Culture’, has been their primary way of spreading the word. ‘Our Culture’ has has had 4 successful events so far and continues to shed a light on a talent that goes widely unrecognized in Pakistan.
7. Anam Mansuri
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Anam Mansuri is a Digital Content Strategist, a freelance culture journalist, and the Founder of Womanistan. Womanistan is a digital platform boasting 273k followers on Instagram, and aims to tell stories about women in order to inform, inspire, and entertain.
Womanistan ki Dukan is an offshoot of Womanistan. It is a curated marketplace that supports local female-run businesses while also featuring young entrepreneurs and their merchandise. It boasts a large inventory of home accessories, apparel, jewellery, stationary, art prints, and much more!
8. Arafat Mazhar
Puffball is an animation, design, and music production studio specializing in 2D frame-by-frame videos. Puffball is a passion project which constructs compelling narratives and tells stories through meaningful design.
Arafat has also directed two animated Urdu-language shorts. Swipe, which won the special jury award at the 2021 Animafest, was also the only South Asian entry to be selected for the festival. As a short-film, is a direct confrontation of Pakistan’s extrajudicial violence, hate speech, and restriction of free expression. Shehr-e-Tabassum is Pakistan’s first-ever Urdu language cyberpunk short film set in a dystopian Pakistan.
9. Haseeb S Khan
Haseeb S Khan is a Lahore-based multi-hyphenate designer and entrepreneur. He is a visual communication design graduate of Beaconhouse National University (BNU) and an expert in all things visual.
Haseeb set up his design studio in 2013 and now executes his artistic expression through his products at MyType.store. MyType was born in 2021, to transform everyday objects into aesthetic, empowered, and elevated functional designs.
From recipe and baby journals to wedding planners, spice labels and innovative chocolate covers – MyType.store does it all! Their products are a burst of passion and an explosion of expression, designed and curated by the young entrepreneurs – Haseeb and his wife and Co-Founder, Maham Haseeb Bosan.
What’s more – with a new product coming in every month, Mytype store is in constant creation mode!
10. Sitwat Rizvi
A former photographer, Sitwat Rizvi is the Founder and CEO of The Commons Karachi. TKC is a women-centric platform that supports small to medium businesses. By hosting a variety of events such as movie nights, comedy shows, and pop-ups (Makers Markets), TKC creates a space that enables collaboration and innovation.
Not only does this help small businesses and young entrepreneurs grow but also spreads the idea of conscious consumerism by placing value on quality and craftsmanship.