Shafik Ali

Shafik Bhai was one of our first hires to work in the jewellery department, he details his journey from working with Parbesh Bhai to Papa Don’t Preach.

“I moved to Bombay from Lucknow 20 years ago, in search of work. I was fortunate enough to meet Parbesh Bhai who owned a tailoring shop, where I learned the craft and was able to earn a living. He introduced me to Taufik bhai, who became my business partner and friend. Taufik Bhai and I later started working with the designers at Papa Don’t Preach on a freelance basis, before we got hired full time.”

For Shafik Bhai, it's always been about following his heart, his love story explains why.

“I met my wife in my village in Lucknow, she was my neighbour. I knew it was love at first sight but my parents did not approve of her. She is much older than me and had two children from her previous marriage. It caused a rift in my family but I chose to follow my heart. We now have two children of our own and I love her children as I would my own. It may not have been what my parents intended but I am proud of the family we have built.”

When discussing his twenty year long career, Shafik Bhai’s confidence in his work is displayed beautifully by his words. 

“Whether it was embroidery on earrings, garments or bags, I have learned everything on the khaat. My education starts the second I sit down in front of the khaat, that has taught me everything I need to know about my craft. That is how I learned the discipline from Parbesh Bhai. Once you learn that it takes practice and creativity to take a 2D design and make it 3D.

Our earrings are delicate but they can be elaborate and extravagant too. Shafik Bhai explains the process of making each.

“I enjoy making earrings because it’s something I have been doing for many, many years. Each time we design and create a new piece, the process and the aspect of approaching the collection is different. It was when I joined this company that I realized that some of our earrings are paired differently too. We made a pair of earrings that had a sun on one ear and a moon on the other. This was a new trend for me to learn. Each pair of earrings has a different process to it. Some are embroidered and use less metal, others take more time when there is more intricate embroidery involved. A kaleera takes five days to make because of the tassels, the additional beads and intricate embroidery we do on each tassel is what takes a lot more concentration. Our ‘Jellyfic’ earrings are also very elaborate with beaded tassels, they took the longest to make because of the size and 3D effect of it.”

When Shafik Bhai is questioned about his vision for his future, his answer has remained constant through the years.  

“Medhaji asks me this question all the time and all I say is, don’t worry, I am here for many years all I need in return is that you trust that I can get the job done. I always tell her, “aapne kaam diya, main kar loonga.”

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