Simrah Farrukh is a Pakistani artist and photographer. She is currently an Art Major, with a concentration in photography and is using her talents to benefit others.
Simrah’s brand Simbazaar is taking the South Asian world by storm and inspiring young girls everywhere. In a world where being seen as “foreign” is a difficult thing, Simrah is empowering South Asians to be proud of where they are from. She spoke with The Tempest about her current brand and future aspirations.
The Tempest: What inspired you to start Simbazaar? Did you expect it to take off the way it has done?
Simrah Farrukh: I started Simbazaar after Donald Trump’s presidential election. In a time like this, I feel like a lot of young Muslim and South Asian girls are afraid of being who they are. I created Simbazaar to empower girls like me to take pride in who they are and to be unapologetically Desi and unapologetically Muslim.
I was prompted to create my brand at college. At the time, I was unhappy and I would stay in my dorm room literally all day. Because of Trump’s presidency and because I trapped myself in my dorm room all day; I was alone with my thoughts. One day, this inspired me to draw a girl. I sent it to a company that prints shirts and I got it on the day of the election.
The next day my college had an anti-Trump March, and I wore my shirt. This specific design became very special to me because it was the one I wore when I felt the most empowered I have ever felt in my life. The anti-Trump rally was to march for equality and peace, so I simply named this shirt “peace”. I got a lot of compliments on my shirt that day, and my dad and eldest brother had been telling me for a while that I should put my art on a shirt and sell them, so thus I created Simbazaar! I expected only close friends or people in my area to buy my shirts, but I now have customers from all over the world.
I love everything you have on the website. What is next for Simbazaar?
I have been trying to work on enamel pins and patches for people to put on their backpacks and jackets. A lot of people seem to love my idea of hands with mehndi on them doing different signs, so I think I will work on that more.
You stated that you come from a family of artists, how have they responded to your work?
My family is very supportive of my work. I am very lucky to have South Asian parents that are supportive of my decision of being an artist. My number one customer and biggest supporter would probably be my eldest brother. He has bought the same shirt in like three different colors. I showed my grandparents my shirts and phone cases and my grandma wanted a phone case for herself.
My dad once told me and my other older brother, who is also an artist, “Not everyone is given the talent that you both have, so use it and don’t let it go to waste.” Ever since then I have been even more determined to use my talent to show the beauty of the South Asian culture and Muslim community.
You are very talented in both Simbazaar and in your photography. Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
In 5 years, I would be graduated from college and I would want to be pursuing a career in high fashion photography, more specifically with the Pakistan fashion industry. Lately, I have been doing a lot of Pakistani themed fashion photo shoots. I am trying to collaborate with more fashion bloggers and Pakistani brands. One on my biggest dreams has always been to attend Fashion Week as a photographer, so hopefully, within 5 years I can work up to that!
I combine my two talents and take my own photos for Simbazaar’s Instagram and website. Fashion photography has always been my passion and it still is, but I guess whatever I do, I just want to be in the fashion industry. Whether it be photography, designing shirts, or even both!
Do you have any advice for young women who want to create their own empowering brands?
My advice for young women who want to create their own empowering brand is to empower yourself before you empower others. That is what creates a strong foundation for a brand. Be brave and confident to put your voice out there, and don’t pay attention to what other’s think about you, just be true to yourself.
All of these things may seem so simple, yet everyone forgets them.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.