Pretty Shitty Art and The Flourist
If someone had to talk about the most multi-talented people leading multiple creative ventures, then painter, pastry chef, and animal rights activist Saria Saguaro would definitely be near the top of that list.
However, she is a painter first. Painting ever since her childhood, Saria took a break after the age of 16. Returning to her passion after a decade, she wanted to experiment with different mediums instead of just paper and canvas, leading to the birth of Pretty Shitty Art back in August 2014. She explored printable and wearable mediums including underwear, shoes, and posters for her first exhibit, after which she went on to experiment with aprons and even jewellery.
When she is not painting, she is busy baking her heart out at her cake studio, The Flourist, which reopened in March and is currently occupying a small section at the Gourmet Bazar in Gulshan. Her desserts taste just as amazing as they look, with the signature touch of her artistic persona. She also started working on her animal shelters and clinics project in Dhaka towards the end of 2016. She does portraits of pets in exchange for donations that go to My Pet Project, which has raised and donated over BDT 120,000 since its initiation.
When asked about her biggest struggle, she confessed about her time management issues: she either has to work around the clock or take months off of one project to work on the other since she is the sole person managing everything. She believes that creative businesses have a lot of scope in niche markets, but perhaps not so much for the masses. Her advice to anyone starting out is, “Grow a thick skin. Put your head down and get at it. Everything else is usually white noise.”
Made with Love
Having been fond of painting since childhood, marketing and e-commerce student Humairah Shams started her calligraphy journey by learning to design cards and quotes. As she started to improve, her elder sister Sarah Shams noticed the opportunity and pushed her to share her artwork and designs with the world. After a brief period of planning, they officially launched their creative venture at the Carousel of Chaos, an exhibit held in August 2016. Things have never been the same since then for these sisters.
They have showcased their work at numerous exhibits and have made quite a name for themselves with the exquisite and intricate calligraphy designs and art products. Their range of products varies from art prints to stationery items and even totes and mugs. “We mainly identify as an art boutique, selling art in different forms”, says Humairah. While Sarah handles the operations, Humairah takes care of the product designs. Some of her products allow customisation and she even sells commissioned art pieces through her art page Musings of a Wildflower.
As the owner of a small creative business here in Bangladesh, she mentions how one of the biggest struggles is to find a supplier who will agree to print her work out in small quantities. “Since we are still such a small business, it is risky to just go and print large quantities of anything”, she comments, “So finding the right supplier who is willing to help out small business owners like us is always a challenge.”
If anyone asks me to recommend a good place for getting amazing laptop sleeves, I start blabbering about Stellar. But that is only one of the “stellar” products that they sell. In case you still have not heard of them, Stellar is an online creative business that sells home décor and stationery. Sarah Zarrar and her best friend Shafin Babar launched their business back in 2016, and it has grown into quite the success in the last one year.
When asked about how it all started, Sarah talked about her eternal fascination for home décor and stationery. The fact that the creatively styled items found abroad were scarce here in Bangladesh gave her the idea to set up her business with the help of Shafin. Together, they worked on the website and supply chain to build the foundation of what Stellar is today. Sarah handles the production, design, and social media marketing, while Shafin looks after the sales, inventory, and logistics. Some of their home décor products include cushions, coasters, dreamcatchers, candles, and jarred plants; they also sell stationery items such as journals, planners, laptop sleeves, pencil bags, and are planning to launch apparels and accessories soon.
Despite Sarah being a working woman and Shafin a student, they both dedicate at least two to three hours daily to work on Stellar. Whatever free time they have, they dedicate it to Stellar. When asked about the prospects of creative businesses in Bangladesh from their experience, Sarah commented on the massive potential this sector has because of the various talented people in Bangladesh. She believes that with increasing exposure and collective efforts, this sector will get more profitable and soon be competitive on an international scale.
Stellar is also open to any collaborations with other artists, so if you have any ideas you want to bring into an artistic physical form, anyone is welcome to knock on their doors.
The writer is a junior at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka