Summaiya and I are a husband and wife team that started Bear Necessities in late 2014, in Karachi.
Summaiya & Husain
Our story began on a visit to my mother’s home town of Sahiwal soon after our wedding where my mother’s younger brother, Maamu Balloo, proudly showed us his collection of leather bags and accessories which he had recently started getting made in a small karkhana (workshop) in the city. Our first satchel, Balloo, is a homage to and a copy of a bag he gifted Summaiya on that trip. Since I had just gotten into e-commerce at the time, my brain instantly started conjuring up business ideas of how we can sell Maamu Balloo’s creations online.
Mamoon Balloo and his trusted Wheelie roaming the streets of Sahiwal
We soon realised that while Maamu showed interest in our idea at the time, he didn’t really want to grow his hobby into a business, but by that time, we had already been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and had started researching the field, developing our product ideas and brand image. The competition at the time consisted of two legacy brands which followed a corporate look for an uncle and aunty market – the kind we had seen our parents use for decades. There was no one making and selling the kind of vintage-looking, durable full-grain leather products which Maamu had showed us. Given Pakistan’s rich history in leather production and craftsmanship, this was both a difficult and unique opportunity for us.
With no prior experience in leather and using all our savings to get the initial batch of leather wallets and bags (one messenger and one tote) made from a small karkhana in Korangi, Karachi, we started Bear Necessities. Since then, it’s been a constant process of learning and relearning, one that has been both disheartening and extremely fulfilling. Eight years on, we are proud to have our own karkhana with a small but capable team of karigars and have loyal customers (who we like to refer to as the BN Family!) not just in Pakistan but all over the world.
Our karigar team
The BN story is one of perseverance, and staying true to the purpose of providing ‘durable leather classics,’ and the adventure is just getting started.