Up Close with the Firefly Girl

Varah Musavvir is not just a name, she is a power house. Also known as the Firefly Girl, Ms. Musavvir started out as a crafter and founded her own gifts and lifestyle brand under the banner of Firefly. An ingenious entrepreneur with a knack for everything creative, quirky and handmade, Ms. Musavvir has made a well-deserved place for herself in the arts and crafts community of Pakistan. Her private ventures also include an exclusively organic skin care line Food for Your Face by Firefly and The Crafter's Guild, which she discusses with us in detail. 
Ms. Musavvir's work has also been featured in several international publications and print media including National Geographic as part of corporate communications. Her creative, design and consultancy projects have also been a part of high profile events like Pepsi Battle of the Bands, Pakistan Idol and Pakistan Fashion Week. Ms. Musavvir has lived a life with countless life-changing experiences and she has shared some of those experiences with us today.

Can you explain what The Crafter's Guild is?
The Crafter’s Guild is a community. It is an initiative to bring to light and provide opportunities to the local artisans and crafters within Pakistan. Apart from curating handmade fairs and craft shows, The Crafter’s Guild also supports workshops, collaborations, charity based initiatives and trainings.

How did this particular field interest you and how did you get started?
I’ve always been passionate about crafting and creative things. The field has generally been intriguing with my countless travels and a fascination for such things since my teenage years. I, in fact, pursued design, and have studied textiles with a major in Print from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture.

You organize and manage three crafting expos annually which is quite a daunting task. What are some of the challenges you have faced in this particular regard?
The three shows have their own identity, energy, feats and of course, mandate. So many visitors, participants and general audiences confuse this and expect them all to be the same. It is also very difficult to sometimes schedule dates as there are events happening left, right and center. All of them, surprisingly, promote ‘crafts’ and handmade work in Pakistan. I don’t consider these major challenges, though. It’s all part of the effort, and gives me more reasons to do better, do more, and reconstruct some of my unique selling points for the craft shows.

Did you always have the bigger picture in mind or did it all come together gradually?
Initially the event was to ‘meet the makers’ as some of us were getting together to host the first craft show. With time the platforms have grown pretty massive and it’s inspiring to see that they’re so warmly encouraged and welcomed by women and their families. 
Why are you also known as the Firefly Girl?
I began a lifestyle and gifts brand called Firefly in 2010, which was a very prominent feature of my life and work over the last several years. It originated from my journal, also titled Firefly. Everyone referred to me as the Firefly Girl wherever I went. So it became kind of like an alias or super hero name.

Affairs related to crafts have not been mainstream even when we have multitudes of very talented crafters in the country. What made you take this 'cause' up?
The fact that there was no platform for crafts, particularly urban crafts, in Pakistan. I took part in many events with Firefly, realizing that they lacked several elements. I bridged or focused on through my own craft shows. This includes the mentoring and trainings, marketing, sense of community, and sense of ownership — not just of a business, but a story, a passion, and a journey.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your journey related to arts and crafts so far?
The fact that it has given me countless new opportunities and introduced me to a plethora of incredulously inspiring individuals. I never planned or penned down my quest. It sort of found its path and over time, gave me a greater purpose.

You are also teaching in a private university. How do you manage your academic responsibilities along with your other pursuits?
Teaching has been a childhood dream. I landed several roles in university and have enjoyed them fully. Teaching is something I enjoy because of the students and lives I can inspire, shape or motivate. In this process though, a lot of my creative ventures and artistic endeavours come to a standstill. I’ve in fact, recently, taken a step back from this esteemed institution to focus on strengthening The Crafter’s Guild and Firefly. I’m very attached to my students, and I’m very blessed that so many of them are preparing to be a part of my team in the near future. They’re my biggest cheerleaders and support!

Is there a particular moment or memory which stands out for you?
I had debated a move which would consequently have led to leaving everything I had established. Someone asked me why I was doing so when I had gathered together so many individuals and given them a home. I tossed out all ideas of doing so, stood my ground and continued to more work dedicated to crafts, uplifting the local art and craft community, and representing the creative Pakistani.

How has your family's support played out in this regard? 
I’m nothing without them. They’ve been immensely patient, supportive and encouraging, my little sister, especially!

How has this journey changed you as a person, if it has?
It has allowed me to be more grateful, more resilient, and encouraged me to be more compassionate. I feel at home with all sorts of individuals, from all sorts of backgrounds, regardless of their caste, creed, or religion.

What would you like to tell aspiring female entrepreneurs and creative women who aspire to do 'more’?
The forecast is whimsical with a chance of rainbows! Think good thoughts, they give light to our dreams! There will always be nay say, there will always be some pessimism, but holding our ground is imperative if we wish to make our mark and shape the world.HH

E-mail:[email protected]

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