My Journey From Distributed Storage Engineer to Social Entrepreneur
I lived the life that some might consider the American Dream when I was working in corporate America. For the last 10 years, I have worked with the smartest people in the Tech Industry. I was part of teams at Windows Azure and Amazon S3 working on solving some of the hardest and most complex problems of distributed storage systems. Each day my inbox was flooded with offers from competitive companies. In short, I was living a comfortable life with my hands full with a bright future ahead of me.
Yet something was missing, I started realizing that it was the connection with the people outside of my corporate world, the people that my products impact on a day to day basis. I started to ask myself, if I could use my learning of technology and leadership to be able to touch the lives of people, no matter where they are in the world and feel that change personally, would I?
A big push came in the form of Blake Mycoskie’s book, “Start Something That Matters”. In the third chapter Blake ask us to ‘face your fears’, he suggested that there is no right time to quit your job, the timing will always suck, and fundamentally if it’s important for you and you want to do it ‘eventually’, just do it and correct course along the way! As I closed the chapter in Blake’s book, I also closed the chapter of my corporate life and started my journey with Fuchsia.
It all started when one of my close friends, Afshan, was visiting Pakistan. On a shopping spree, she bagged a couple of snazzy looking traditional ballet flats known as “Khussas”, which she brought back home to Seattle. They instantly became a hit with all her friends, myself included, and everybody wanted to know where they could get a pair of her dazzling shoes.
Over coffee, we talked about how much people loved beautifully crafted, handmade shoes and clothing, and how ironic that the artisans who create such pieces of art are usually undervalued and unnoticed.
We found out that these artisans lacked the proper business acumen and, as a result, most of their profit was eaten by the middle man. These artisans typically don’t have the means to reach out to customers on their own. Therefore, the challenge in front of us was how we as technologists can remove these inefficiencies in the current system and bridge the gap between artisans and consumers in different parts of the world?
From the start, it was very important to us that Fuchsia made a strong impact on our community. With so many men and women artisans struggling to support their families, we wanted to do our part to help them overcome at least one of the obstacles that they face by helping them to provide a living for themselves and their loved ones.
We decided it was time to leave our day jobs. Afshan left INRIX, and I resigned from Amazon. It took us over a year of soul searching and discussions to really gather the courage to leave our jobs. So far, it has been a little over a year since we left, and it’s been by far the best decision I’ve ever made. If you had told me 5 years ago that I would go from a software engineer to an entrepreneur in the fashion shoes industry, I may have laughed at you, but here I am.
Fuchsia brings the native leather craftsmanship of local Pakistani artisans, previously inaccessible to the western world, directly to our customers. By working closely with our artisans, we ensure both quality and confidence that you will feel the love and care put into each shoe.
Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethic said, “Happiness is the highest good”. I followed my passion and started Fuchsia, which is my “highest good”. My passion for bringing people and cultures together through a sustainable and community-driven product has brought me to this point and no matter how far Fuchsia goes, my life has already been transformed because of it.
I accept the challenges of life with a completely different outlook. I look at relationships through a different spectrum now, and my priorities have been flipped upside down, all for the better. I think it’s always a good idea to ask yourself this question:
What is a good life?
You might not get the answer right away but if you keep asking yourself, I hope one day you will have the courage to answer it, and when that day comes, don’t be afraid to pursue it.
Please visit Fuchsia and gift your love ones with this piece of art from the artisans of Pakistan. Also check out our Kickstarter here.
I’m sure that you’ll love the colors and designs of each gorgeous shoe and you will walk every step wrapped in the comfort of our soft leather interior. With the love and craftsmanship that is put into each shoe, from their hands into yours, know that you’ve helped save a dying art and helped talented artisans and their communities.