Fashion meets Philanthropy by Bringing Education to Children in Pakistan

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If you’ve attended one of our Networking Nights recently, you’ve probably met Sindhu Jawed, either in person or heard her pitch to a room full of women. Never one to back away from an opportunity to discuss her current project Jarsss, which is launching this weekend at the Liberty Village Holiday Market, we here at the YWiB community thought it would be a perfect time to shine a spotlight on one of our amazing members. Not only is she a philanthropist, but shes an all around BOSS, but she is creating change that is having an impact in both Canada and Pakistan.

What exactly is Jarsss?

Jarsss is a lifestyle brand, it’s a company, and its a story. At Jarsss we specialize in creating affordable leather goods that are socially impactful. Our products are designed in Canada and produced in Pakistan.  Our social impact begins when you purchase one of our leather goods because we utilize our profits to fund the education of underprivileged children in Pakistan. With Jarsss, you are not just carrying a quality product, you are part of our story.

How have your life experiences led to the creation of Jarsss?

Jarsss has spun out of my other social impact projects and it's now my main focus. At the age of 17, I started a non-for-profit in Pakistan as a result of my own hurdles with access to education. At that time, I had been self-teaching for a few years and began Asro which focuses on making education accessible to students who either can’t afford to go to school or who live in areas where safety is an issue.

From my work in the social sector, I was able to secure a full scholarship to attend university in Canada whereas before this, I was not sure if I was going to pursue further education at all. This experience taught me the value of education and how some opportunities can be life-changing.

With the continued commitment and efforts of the team, today, Asro is 7 years old, has a running and operations team in Pakistan and this year alone it has sponsored 50 students to go to school. However, finding sustainable funding models for non-profits is a common organizational resiliency strategy. To be able to continue this work, which has created a difference in the life of many, I decided to found Jarsss. Pakistan is a world-leading producer of fine leather, so by combining my country’s common export, my philanthropic mission and my passion for good design,  Jarsss is creating products that are functional and tied to the community. While at the same time the profits are impacting and driving social and financial change.

How have you been able to combine your profession and passion for philanthropy? 

My current professional role is Community & Operations Associate at Venture for Canada. I believe that VFC is an organization that lives and breathes impact. I’m grateful to be a part of an organization that has the mission to foster entrepreneurship in Canada for a more inclusive, diverse and innovative country. I have been able to combine my passion for social impact by working closely with program beneficiaries as our programs, training, and community development projects strive towards fostering entrepreneurship in Canada. I work closely in facilitating opportunities and generating content for entrepreneurs and young Canadians who want to make an impact on the future of work and business. I have the opportunity to work closely with folks who see my vision and support my efforts.

Having said that, it is unrealistic to say that managing a full-time job and a side hustle is easy. Since I have a supportive team both at VFC and at Jarsss, I have been able to manage both successfully.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with launching Jarsss? 

From picking the right manufacturer to making sure the quality of the material is top notch, every stage of the production process to the export process has presented its own challenge. One of the challenges that I’ve encountered was making the assumption that all the products that we’ve designed and sent for production matched the quality standards we had set for our brand.  Having failed to test the products ourselves, we lost time and investment in products that did not function as desired. This, of course, is the result of other challenges including working in different time zones and having hard timelines.

That being said, this challenge was an oversight and we take each challenge as an opportunity to learn. After this experience, we’ve adjusted our production line and process, allocated at least 2 weeks to test our products for functionality, to then make notes and suggestions for improvements before launching into the manufacturing of the final product. The drill is to make, fail, learn and repeat.

How do you see Jarsss growing in the future?

My goal is that Jarsss will become recognized as a brand equally for its design and quality, as well as its drive to support social missions. Jarsss will stay true to its design vision but will continue to grow with its global impact as the plan is that it serves as a sustainable revenue source for other causes.

What are you currently working on?  

This week, I’m preparing for the official launch of Jarsss. It’s a really exciting time as this is the final stage of the conceptualization, design, and execution of the idea! For the very first time ever, Jarsss products will be available for purchase at the Liberty Village Holiday Market located at 99 Sudbury St. on Sunday December 2nd.

How has the YWiB community helped you?

The YWiB community has helped me in countless ways. One fun fact is that the first time I pitched Jarsss, it was at the networking event in front of 50 women who are part of this community.  Everyone was so supportive and encouraging.

I joined YWiB when I was in school in Vancouver and not only did I find an incredible group of supporters but I also got connected to very smart, driven and ambitious women in the industry I wanted to break into. I particularly enjoy the monthly networking events and workshops focused on different topics.

If you are looking for a community of like-minded and driven women, I’d strongly encourage you to join YWiB, the team is welcoming and strives hard to provide you with resources that can help you grow both personally and professionally.

 What advice would you give other women looking to start a philanthropic project?

It’s magical to create something that shapes other people’s lives. I encourage everyone to take an initiative and hustle hard. The key is to surround yourself with people who can support, mentor and encourage you to push your boundaries. The only reason I have been able to come this far is for all the people who have consistently supported me in this journey.

I’m happy to connect with anyone curious to learn about my journey or Jarsss, shoot me an email at sindhu@jarsss.ca and we can grab a coffee!

About Sindhu

Sindhu is a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Economics, Business, and Philosophy, where she studied on a full scholarship.  Currently, she works as a Community & Operations Associate at Venture for Canada.

At the age of 17,  Sindhu started a Non-Profit focused on making education accessible to children from underprivileged backgrounds in Pakistan. Today, the organization is 7 years old and this year alone has sponsored 50 students to attend primary school.

Sindhu is also a member of Global Shapers, an initiative of World Economic Forum and was featured in Rich Thinking, the eighth global study in the Rich Thinking series about Smart women and risk-taking.

She loves to travel, talk about entrepreneurship, and is passionate about building communities.

As part of the launch Jarsss is offering YWiB members and exclusive discount on items purchased at the Holiday Market. Just follow Jarss on instagram @jarsss.ca

For tickets to the Holiday Market click here