People kept asking Afshan Abbas where she got her distinctive shoes. This happened so often that the Seattle businesswoman, who hails from Pakistan, decided it was time to introduce the footwear to the rest of the world. In 2016, after raising more than $60,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, she and a partner, Rameez Sajwani, started up Fuchsia Inc., which sells unique handmade flats, scarves, totes and other accessories created by a handful of artisans in Pakistan and Nepal.
Abbas, a former Microsoft employee whose background is in finance and data management, operates Fuchsia from a coworking space in downtown Seattle. Fuchsia’s hand-stitched shoes, scarves and totes are available through the company’s website and sell for between $50 and $350. She intends to build this business around the craftspeople who assemble the shoes and embroider the unique designs in Fuchsia’s collection.
“Perhaps we can build a sustainable model where we are creating economic opportunities for artisans who practice a dying art,” she says, noting that the artisans she employs receive a salary and benefits. Fuchsia was born out of Abbas’ desire to make more handmade artisan goods available to the western market. She’d spent years traveling to different countries, collecting unique souvenirs along the way, and when people asked her where to get her shoes or other accessories, she had no direction in which to point them.
“There are 125 million artisans in developing countries making one-ofa-kind crafts,” says Abbas. “That’s what we envision we are going to scale in a way that has never been done before.”
Eye for detail
Abbas wants to allow Fuchsia’s craftspeople to focus on shoe assembly and the distinctive embroidery that makes them unique, so she plans to partner with factories that will produce parts for the artisans.
Each piece tells a story
Fuchsia is developing a scannable code unique to each batch of shoes that will give a detailed history of the product customers purchase, down to the payment receipt for the artisan who stitched each item together.
Fuchsia was recently accepted to Fledge, an organization that provides mentorship and a network of investment funds to mission-driven, for-profit companies.