MAKING INT'L LINKS FOR HANDICRAFTS, FASHION APPARELS

INTERVIEW: MEHREEN ILLAHI
CONSULTANT FOR TRADE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF PAKISTAN

AMANULLAH BASHAR
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

May 3 - 16, 2010

Mehreen Illahi currently associated with Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) as a consultant has many advantages to her side including charming personality with a natural art of conveying the message in the right perspective which she is using to get her job done effectively which is nothing but to broaden Pakistan's canvas of exports.

She is working to achieve the desired results especially of highlighting eye catching handicrafts generally produced by women folk in the rural areas across the country.

It was really impressive to see that Mehreen is trying to make an international link for the promotion of the most human friendly fabric produced in Sindh known as "Ajrak".

While talking to this scribe she said that Ajrak is the specialty of rural area of Sindh in which natural and fascinating vegetable colours add to the beauty of exotic designs of Ajrak. If this product carves a place in the international market she said with a sense of great confidence that it is going to change the picture of rural economy in Pakistan.

Apart from attending over 20 International Conferences and Trade Fairs Mehreen also worked as a Senior-Vice Chairperson for eight years for women entrepreneurs at FPCCI and is currently working as a consultant for TDAP handling fashion, media and handicrafts. Here she has worked on creating a link for handicrafts on the TDAP's website as well as a handicraft directory.

Fashion design module has been created for the fashion design institute that is in the pipeline, in Sukkur. Several presentations on export facilitation, MIP centres, fashion and media have been given that will be helpful to Pakistani exporters, focusing on fashion and handicrafts.

As founder & owner of Majmua The Art Gallery since March 17th 1994, Mehreen Ilahi has tried to bring together various art forms and make Majmua, a burgeoning and momentous forum in Karachi and the art world in Pakistan.

Majmua has also served as a cultural ambassador to the countries where the shows were taken. Majmua in the Millennium year has made great strides. In a matter of six years it has launched 'Art Pakistan', a magazine on art, culture and heritage as well as produced a series of programs on art and culture under the same aegis.

We intend to continue promoting Pakistani art in various ways. Mehreen Ilahi is also a filmmaker and the documentary film "Behind the Veil" was a thesis film for Ilahi's Boston University Masters Degree. The documentary intends to highlight the status of women, in a social, political and religious context and profiles women who have contributed their lives to their particular chosen oeuvre. 'Behind the Veil' has been shown in Pakistan as well as at the MESA Film Fest in Washington DC in 1995.

She is also the Senior Vice President of MWPJO an NGO and on the board of governors for Galaxy of youth, NGO youth education of underprivileged children in Pakistan. She has written a number of articles on culture for Dawn newspaper and art reviews for Woman's Own magazine etc.

She is the recipient of awards for entrepreneurship, fine arts and human rights from the ministry of commerce, and LHRLA. She is the member at FPCCI, Karachi chamber, business councils, member of Apwa and Arts Council.

LABELS AND BRAND CREATION

On the back of having specialization in fashion, Mehreen put her best for developing Pakistani brands and labels by holding fashion shows and road shows outside Pakistan. Recently a conference was organized at Dubai where opening of LABELS was announced at Studio 8-a dedicated section within the boutique for Pakistani designers. Special appearance of Pakistani designers will be made specifically to inaugurate this section.

Sarah Belhasa, owner of the boutique says: "I am very excited about the new dedicated section for Pakistani designers. LABELS at Studio 8 includes the best fashion brands and names from Karachi or Lahore and caters to more likes and tastes all here in Dubai. It is also a great opportunity to house some amazing designers and bring more choice for everyone.

17 designers were engaged to show their latest collections in this permanent section at Studio 8, adding to the already diverse mix of brands and offering great choice to yet another genre of client taste.

This step comes as a result of collaboration with LABELS, a Pakistan's premier multi-designer store retailing fine clothing, accessories, hand bags and precious jewellery essentially catering to the strong and independent woman of Pakistan.

Mehreen said that currently steps are in the pipeline for developing a communication counter and a call center at Expo Center Karachi which will be assigned the task to attend queries regarding exhibitions, fairs and exports activity. This would be a major step towards the goal of promotion, conventional and non-conventional products from Pakistan, she felt.