Modavanti brand, Popinjay, was featured on Ecouterre.
Popinjay has social justice in the bag. Founded by MIT graduate Saba Gul, the luxury purveyor employs some 150 women artisans in Gul's native Pakistan to make its high-end leather purses, clutches, satchels, and totes. After a false start as a non-profit, Popinjay reinvented itself as a for-profit with a more sophisticated style.
Ecouterre sat down with Gul to discuss Popinjay's evolution, its influences, and the future of the fashion industry. Read the full interview here.
How did the idea for Popinjay come about?
The road to Popinjay’s creation as a luxury handbag company started when I was in graduate school. I heard the story of a young Afghan girl, Azaada Khan, who disguised herself as a boy for 12 years to be allowed to attend school. She changed her name, cut her hair, the way she dressed, walked, talked and everything about her to take on this new identity. I could not stop thinking about Azaada’s story—it was so real and raw for me.
Even though I had grown up in next-door Pakistan, my life had taken a radically different course from Azaada’s. while she had to change her identity to get a middle school education, I was getting my second degree at MIT.
That summer I traveled to the community in Pakistan that was being helped by the same [non-governmental organization] that had enabled Azaada to get an education. I started a pilot here to provide girls and women access to basic education and skills training.
Eventually, in 2011, I left my corporate job in the United States to return to Pakistan and work on this full-time. What is Popinjay today started as a pilot with 25 teenage girls in Attock in 2011, and got rebranded into the luxury, accessories fashion brand, Popinjay, in the fall of 2013.