The Story Behind Meraki’s Ajrak Headbands
So, a little while ago, we unveiled our Ajrak headbands, to a fair bit of aplomb. Our shoes maybe the mainstays, but you guys made sure that our headbands wouldn’t be seen as an afterthought. What you couldn’t have known about, was the story that culminated into these trendy accessories. And today, I wanted to remedy that.
The idea of the traditional Ajrak cloth adorning something, is not new. In fact, Sindh’s most popular textile (arguably) has been fashioned into everything, from a tunic to a tea-cozy. This is to be expected; traditional Ajrak prints are rather special. They get people looking, and talking.
Simultaneously, our foray into Ajrak territory is also not new. More than one Meraki flat has taken inspiration from the block-printing tradition. What is new, is the transition to headbands. And really, team Meraki cannot take all credit for that turn of events.
Some time ago, our formidable Eman crossed paths with a kindred spirit. She met Sarah Beaudoin at a Summer Program they were both enrolled in at HEC Montreal. Instantly taken in with Sarah’s enterprise, ‘Gibou’, Eman wanted to pick her brain about all things business.
The similarities between Sarah’s journey and her own were not lost on Eman. Here was another young woman, championing a brand that was ethical in practice, and relied on handmade products. She was particularly inspired by Sarah’s headbands, as they were versatile enough to appeal to everyone, but also maintained their own unique look and feel.
Over the course of their discussions, Sarah and Eman developed a lasting friendship. It has lead them to many conversations, and even halfway across the world to Barcelona!
A Tale of Two Cities
But this isn’t just the story of two girls, bonding over a shared passion. Rather, it is the tale of two like-minded enterprises, finding a way to collaborate.
Moreover, it is the story of two cities, and their respective traditions.
Many miles away, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, the tradition of block printing has survived for generations. It still forms an intrinsic part of the culture of the city, and its people. And the various versions of traditional Ajrak are literal manifestations of that culture.
Back in Canada, Sarah had established a thriving, ethical accessories brand in Montreal, which works with local retirees to create trendy, winter-centric products that continue to resonate with her customers.
A Labour of Love
The word ‘meraki’ literally refers to imparting a part one’s soul into our work. And albeit in a tiny way, but the Meraki headbands reflect this.
In essence, Eman wanted to bring together the efforts of Ajrak producers in Hyderabad, and tie them to the Gibou story. Like an extension of their creativity, these headbands are two parts of a story that spans two continents. We are always really proud of our products, but in the case of our headbands that pride is further amplified. Because, they represent not just creative traditions that we love, but also a friendship that we hope to hold on to.
About the Author
Ushah Kazi is a freelance writer, pop-culture junkie, and resident communications expert at Meraki.