The PNW is a center for innovative approaches to fashion. From Armoire, the cutting edge clothing rental business, to the Bellevue mom designing inspirational jewelry - there are so many creative people and companies in our area.
Afshan Abbas, the CEO and Co-founder of Fuchsia Shoes was inspired to start her business after a trip to her native Pakistan. She knew that there would be customer demand for the beautiful embroidered handmade shoes she saw there. But Abbas also knew the economic impact on the local artisans who made the shoes would be life-changing for them - a true win/win! Seattle Refined caught up with her to hear about all about it.
Seattle Refined: Afshan, locally based Fuchsia has been connecting people with luxury ballet flats, but there’s something special about them...
Afshan Abbas: Fuchsia Shoes are a type of ballet flats that come from ancient traditions from counties like South Asia - mainly Pakistan and India, Indonesia.
How many different kinds or designs of flats do you offer?
We have only one style of flat that we making right now. We offer them in different colors and different embroidery styles, different textures. These flats do not have a left and right.
What are your most popular shoes right now?
'Snowdrop' and 'Olivia' - kind of going a bit back and forth between the two.
To look at these shoes, you might get the impression they cost a gazillion dollars
For handmade shoes when we were doing a lot of market research, ours are like $99. Our formal wedding-type shoes are around $120 dollars. We also have some basic designs which are like plain fabric flats which are around $75 .
How did you come up with this idea?
I was working for Microsoft and I traveled all over the world. Once when I went to Pakistan, which is also my home country. I brought back some artisan made shoes as gifts for friends and family. They loved them and they asked me where they could get more from. I then realized that these Central Asian artisan products and not easily accessible online.
Tell me about the artisans that make the shoes.
So our shoe artisans are based in Pakistan. We are working with more than 100 artisans at the moment. To create a pair of Fuchsia flats, six types of artisans come together.
How does working for Fuchsia impact the lives of these people?
Many of these artisans do not have modern sensibilities and they get taken advantage of by the middle man. So we are basically cutting the middle man and bringing the artisan's work to the lovers of art and fashion by keeping the whole business model e-commerce. We’re literally putting the food on the table of hundreds of artisans, and Fuchsia artisans make three times as much as they do in the local markets - which also boosts their quality of life.
This is literally changing people’s lives.
I grew up in Pakistan and I have witnesses firsthand how these talented artisans are getting treated in the local markets, and they have been stuck in a cycle of poverty for generations, and most of these are women. I take pride in providing them opportunities.
Who are your customers?
Our customer is someone who stands for ethical choices in fashion and demands unparalleled beauty and quality.
So what is next for Fuchsia?
We have a whole new array of shoe styles and choices in the pipeline, and our vision is to put Fuchsia on every foot and in every home around the world.