Quite Quaint is a tribute to my larger than life parents.
A father who lived his life breathing art in forms of beautiful Arabic Calligraphy, Sketching, Visual graphic design, Writing.
He would be happiest visiting art galleries and meeting his artist friends, when he spoke of their work his eyes shone and words gushed with passion.
He made beautiful art and filled countless sketch pads with his artwork, but never exhibited it, the dream of displaying his work one day... left with him.
Although, while working at ‘Indus Valley Art and Architecture school’ there are many whom he supported and helped find grounds and gain confidence to display.
A mother who has perfected every craft she learned. Watercolor/ oil painting ,sketching, Ceramics, Quilting, Embroidery, Stained Glass painting, Etching, landscaping, Flower Arranging/ Ikebana, Dress designing, Block & Screen printing, Candle making...and the very latest Mosaics.
It was their dream and natural inclination to send me to Art school, however in my rebellious teenage years I started taking for granted, that very environment I had grown up in, I did not think Art was worth my while so I took a more practical approach towards doing Information Technology (If you know the show ‘The IT crowd’, I was not very different from Jen, but today I can send emails, receive emails, delete , enter and so on)
So I grew up, worked in a stuffy corporate environment where my desk was deemed the most colorful and creative in the building, people noticed me not because of my work but what I wore, ( Always a rebel of the corporate dress code ) how I jazzed up my presentations with quirky cartoons and unnecessary bouncy balls ( I look back and laugh at my failed attempts ) And leading my compliance department to a nation wide wall art competition that got first prize.
Winning that prize with my team and designing that wall was a definite PAUSE moment for me after 6 years of banking.
When I realized that was the most fun and fulfilling time I had at work. (facepalm)
Revelation: I was an artist at heart, what is an apple to do?
Fast forward, as I grew slightly more and moved to Dubai, the thick skin started shedding and after being around some wonderfully talented men and women, I got reminded of my mom and dad, their passions and talents and how enriched their lives and minds were knowing that they did what they loved most, and it started dawning slowly and surely what my calling was.
I have a long way to go and don't have even 0.5555 percent talent and finesse of my dearest parents, but...
Thanks to, all the Art exhibitions, music festivals, theater and book stores my father took me to, throughout my childhood till I got married.
And thanks to the endless rounds to cloth markets, jewelry stores, carpet sellers, tailors, embroiders, workshops, social engagements my mother took me to.
I have, so to speak an ‘eye’ for detail and craftsmanship
I, am a mix of their passions... ‘the Quaint one’
Read my blog posts and learn a little bit more about my very diverse family and growing up
Not many people know that my first job was managing a flower shop at a posh multi brand store.
Straight out of A-levels, I felt ready to take on the world.
Wrappabels, was a first of its kind store in Karachi, housed in the first ever Mall and brought by Cupola group. It attracted all the young hip crowd and trendy aunties in stilettos.
The mall aptly called 'The point' was the 'IN' place to be that summer and was always filled with young crowd.
I too wanted to spend time there, but could not afford to hangout at the newly opened Pizza express and TGIF restaurants or buy expensive designer brands at the trendiest shops in town.
Especially on my non existent pocket money and parents with an attitude of 'Spend on need basis'
So I convinced my dad to let me work there for the summer.
After a panel interview and couple of days wait I got the offer with a job tile of POS Clerk, which soon changed into Shelf merchandizer and Flower shop manager.
It was a magical place where I along with 7 other young boys and girls, started our day at 8:00 am dusting shelves while listening to Christina Aguilera's genie in a bottle J-Lo's If you had my love and other popular tracks of that time.
It was all about good music, great vibes and day dreams.
I became the person to display all store merchandize from gorgeous handmade candles beautiful leather products, a wall that was just dedicated to Stuffed toys, Barbies, Lego, ceramics by local artists, Home products, Perfumes and luxury make up brands.
I informed the management that I knew and loved flowers and could handle the flower shop as well, so they gave me the go ahead to manage it under the guidance of the wonderful and patient Tofiq Pasha of the Pasha Farms who supplied all the flowers and plants for the shop.
So by the second week of starting work I was a shelf merchandizer for over 20 brands. In charge of the gift wrapping station and the flower shop manager.
And also responsible for making counter Floral arrangements at Pizza Express a level below.
There were days I wouldn't get a minute to sit or have lunch but I was having the best time ever.
I would wrap presents carefully with love and make bouquets for girlfriends, friends , wives, mothers, fathers, sisters , bosses.
I learnt from a colleague how to curl a ribbon perfectly and loved customers reactions as the scissors swooshed over the straight ribbon breaking into magical curls.
Life was good.
My clients were young boys covered with piercings and tattoos buying bouquets for their mothers, suited husbands and excited boyfriends who wanted to wow their ladies as well as trendy ladies getting floral arrangements and plants for their Kitty parties.
I felt a bond with them as they stood there talking to me while I arranged their flowers. We spoke about life, politics, history, current affairs, fashion, flowers.
I always felt that I was sending a part of me through my art to the person receiving the flowers and each one had to be perfect in its representation.
We also offered home delivery of bouquets and once had to deliver an anniversary bouquet and the rider did not come. In panic and feeling responsible I asked one of my colleagues to help me deliver. I don't remember taking permission from the management.
I don't even know if he was 18 or had a license, we just headed out in his Daihatsu Charade with the bouquet.
5 minutes into the ride we got into a terrible accident. And I was sent back to the shop in a cab as him and his uncle took care of the post accident happenings.
Thankfully no one got hurt, but when I went back to work It was terribly embarrassing as the delivery was my idea. I remember pretending a bad whiplash as did not want to face anyone or any questions.
That was a failed plan if any.
Next morning there was a brief meeting where I was told to be more responsible and not take actions without management consent.
And things went back to normally floral or Florally normal :)
Such was summer at Wrappabels. Never a dull moment...(so many stories to tell)
Sometimes it takes a decade or two for us to realize what made us happy back when we were young & carefree, which in my case was working at a flower shop and feeling on top of the world.
Starting Quite Quaint, it was only natural that I would eventually incorporate flowers into what I did for Bridal accessories and favors.
I am not a florist, but a floral artist. I like to design florals in different ways according to mine and my clients aesthetics, bringing in methods of my teachers and modern concepts.
And I love getting people together to work with fresh flowers in workshops.
( check my page Q workshops )
There is much more to my floral journey, but I shall save that for another post ;)
After all, It all started with flowers...
Book a Floral workshop for your group, at your home or at our fab partner venues