In a world where entrepreneurship knows no bounds, women like Maria and Mahwish are trailblazing their way to success with innovative businesses. Maria Ahmed is the driving force behind Mana’s Cookie Co., a venture that has captured the hearts and taste buds of Karachiites with its delectable gourmet cookies. From classic flavours to unique creations, Mana’s Cookie Co. offers a mouth-watering variety that promises to delight every palate.
Meanwhile, Mahwish Rafid’s venture, Colish, is transforming the art of gifting with its exquisite range of candles and fragrances. With scents carefully crafted to evoke a sensory journey, Colish candles elevate everyday moments into unforgettable experiences. From oudh and aromatic to floral and woody notes, each fragrance is thoughtfully designed for men, and women. With Maria and Mahwish at the helm of their respective businesses, Karachiites are treated to a world of gourmet delights and sensory pleasures, making Valentine’s Day truly special.
In baking and confectionery, Mana’s has found a story and a niche for itself. In Karachi’s bustling landscape of culinary entrepreneurship, where industrial giants rule the roost, a different narrative emerges on a local scale. Mana’s Cookies Co. stands as a testament to the evolving dynamics of the industry, peppered with the imprint of female ingenuity. Talking about enabling other women and their enterprises, Maria explains, “Within our stores, we have created a space for home bakers, primarily women, who lacked a platform to sell their products before.
We offer them a corner to showcase their items like gota, chaat masala, and date bars. We encourage others to stock with us. For instance, we have a lady who specialises in chicky, and we stock her product. Providing this platform is important to me because when I started, finding a place to sell my cookies was challenging. Now, we are helping these women expose their products to a new clientele, giving our customers access to their delicious goodies.” These women also entail those from lower income groups who want to support themselves or their children to give their families a chance at a better education and a brighter future. “When hiring, I get on board people from very different walks of life, allowing me to play a part in empowering them, in addition to playing the stereotypical roles of being the homemakers,” shares Maria.
Maria advises female entrepreneurs to stick to their vision and persevere. “Whether you are aiming for something small or big, hard work and dedication will get you there. Women are capable of balancing numerous responsibilities with grace and determination,” stresses Maria. She believes in the strength of women and emphasises the importance of supporting each other to achieve dreams. “There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it,” she exclaims.
Initially, the team comprised exclusively of women, entailing the founder’s vision and commitment to female empowerment. As the enterprise expanded, its first recruits echoed this ethos, with many women continuing to play pivotal roles in its success story.
However, as the business flourished and continued to expand, the core ethos remained unchanged: a dedication to fostering an environment of support and empowerment.
Maria’s company also promotes gender inclusivity as it has both men and women working for the business. “Whatever their needs are, I address them and I support them. Everybody is treated 100 per cent equally in terms of allowances, hours and rights.
It is important to note that we have created an environment that enables this equity and teamwork spirit.” This is the cornerstone of Mana’s progress, where the collective journey towards success is marked by the strides taken in uplifting and championing one another.
Mahwish’s journey as a female entrepreneur in the candles and fragrances industry has been a testament to her unwavering passion and determination. From the outset, she harboured a deep-seated love for crafting fragrances, a passion that ignited her entrepreneurial spirit.
Recognising a void within the fragrance industry in Pakistan, she felt compelled to fill it with her own brand Colish, driven by a desire to showcase the richness of locally-produced scents. However, this journey was not without its hurdles. Chief among these challenges was the task of establishing a home-grown brand that could rival its international counterparts in terms of quality and recognition.
Overcoming this barrier required immense dedication and perseverance, as she tirelessly worked to elevate her brand to the same calibre as esteemed global fragrance houses.
Through her journey, she has not only found a sense of economic independence but has also paved the way for aspiring entrepreneurs, demonstrating that even the most formidable obstacles can be overcome.
Talking about how her business strategy resonates with women’s preferences, especially concerning the selection of thoughtful and meaningful gifts for occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mahwish says, “We are principally focused on crafting fragrances that encapsulate memories and emotions, aligning closely with the desires of our clientele. Each scent carries a distinct inspiration, making it an ideal choice for gifting or personal indulgence.”
Their curated gift sets, meticulously designed to cater to the preferences of both women and men, offer a blend of their best-selling scents, ensuring a diverse array of options to suit various tastes and occasions.
In her journey as a woman entrepreneur, Mahwish finds resonance in infusing her personal experiences and values into her brand. For her, the key lies in embracing vision and passion, unafraid of the hard work required to bring them to fruition. Taking each step with determination, she believes in the power of perseverance to realise goals. In her view, this approach not only shapes her brand but also serves as an inspiration for other women aspiring to venture into traditionally creative fields. Through dedication and courage, she hopes to empower fellow women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams with unwavering resolve.
The writer is the Head of Content at a communications agency. She can be reached at Sara.email@example.com