Firefly: Spreading smiles

Published: May 15, 2011

Marketed primarily through Facebook, Firefly has earned 1,500 fans within a year. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Marketed primarily through Facebook, Firefly has earned 1,500 fans within a year. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Marketed primarily through Facebook, Firefly has earned 1,500 fans within a year. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Marketed primarily through Facebook, Firefly has earned 1,500 fans within a year. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Marketed primarily through Facebook, Firefly has earned 1,500 fans within a year. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
Marketed primarily through Facebook, Firefly has earned 1,500 fans within a year. PHOTO: PUBLICITY
KARACHI: 

If you are the type that prefers personalised gift items over those that though heavy on the wallet say very little, chances are you have come smack in the face of a dead end in the local market. There are very few options for the Pakistani gift shopper.

Varah Musavvir, an enterprising young textile design student at the Indus Valley School of Arts and Architecture (IVSAA), realised this gap in the market and set out to launch Firefly — a home-based business that one of her customers described as the “Hallmark” of Pakistan.

One year since its launch, Firefly has grown to heights Musavvir says she had never imagined before. The project started randomly in March 2010 when she was doodling habitually and came up with a design and idea for a wallet card. A few sifts through the pages of her prized journal after which her brand is named and a few doodles later, Musavvir had come up with the character Sue that adorns some of her designs and cards along with taglines and quotes she had written in her journal herself. The next step was to post pictures on Facebook and tag her friends and voila — orders started coming in.

Firefly offers a variety of products ranging from wallet cards on PVC (a concept unique to Pakistan), key chains on PVC, notebooks, bookmarks, digital CD printing, laptop skins, scrap books and other papercraft.

“I like coming up with my own messages and taglines on my products,” says Musavvir. “I have seen what is already available and I didn’t want to just take that. I wanted Firefly to be my own. It’s funny that people can automatically relate to a lot of what I write and make. They see that it is heartfelt because they see that it is coming from someone who has probably gone through or seen it all. They can click with it, so they usually don’t ask me to change it.”

But when people do want customisations, Musavvir is ready to make them at an added price. Sometimes people ask for personalised messages and text or a personalised look to the characters or a different colour. And part of the reason behind her success is that Musavvir can cater to all of these requests.

Musavvir does not have a creative department or an operations director. She runs the business alone with a little help from her younger brother and manages to balance it along with her studies. Orders are received via email, sent out and picked up in batches from her trusted printer twice a week and subsequently picked up from her college where the gatekeeper helps handout the orders.

“When I started, it was just friends, then it was friends of friends and then friends of friends of friends and then I just lost track,” she says. Firefly’s Facebook page now  has over 1,500 fans. “Till now, it has been solely marketed through Facebook. I did have invitations to school melas etc, so that was a bit of added publicity but most of it has been marketed online. I have also had bulk orders when friends ordered stuff for their organisations or for fundraising. Firefly goes like hotcakes for fundraising because people can put their logos on them or their personalised messages on them.”

Customers often come up with their own innovative ideas for customisations or ways of presenting the gifts. Firefly has also seen orders from abroad — from the United States and United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

In the future, when she has more time, Musavvir plans on expanding Firefly into textiles. She envisions Firefly to become a complete collection of gift items.

“Firefly is not just a business, it’s not just a brand,” she says. “It’s something that is spontaneous and part of my journal. It’s just what I like doing. Like a firefly, it glows wherever it goes. It is about spreading smiles.”

Like its slogan (The forecast is whimsical, with a chance of rainbows), Firefly is an attempt to add the essential dose of optimism we often find missing in our lives.

ACCESSORIES

Items available at Firefly

Wallet cards

Key chains

Magnets

Book marks

Notebooks

CD prints

Laptop skins

Papercrafts

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • May 16, 2011 - 12:05AM

    So proud of you!!!
    Lonnng live FIREFLY!
    smile sunshineRecommend

  • May 16, 2011 - 12:38AM

    The firefly brand is a display of the positivity and productive use of skill to create unique and custom made designs that are excellent gifts and works of art in themselves. Talent and self expression become meaningful when you can successfully create what you like, and enable others to share happiness. Our country needs role models like firefly as lightbearers of entrepreneurial spirit. I have seen the strength and power of design to elevate inside us a sense of commonality, and a truly pluralistic society needs displays of creativity to showcase young talent. Firefly is a spark of creativity in the growing paradigm of imitation and mass production. My best wishes for the brand, its products and philosophy that they come from. Recommend

  • Affan Adil
    May 16, 2011 - 5:09AM

    Something i want to add here is Varah has been the Students’ Council president for few months and she had been dealing with alot of pressures from school also,but still she managed to pull through alot of things. She recently exhibited here brand on the Art Showcase event. so yeah….. HATS OFF to her :-)Recommend

  • Zainab
    May 16, 2011 - 9:03AM

    I absolutely love the concept of Firefly but I also want to be able to get my hands on some of the stuff!:) I can’t seem to find the facebook page for Firefly. I would be grateful if you could help me out.Recommend

  • Anum
    May 16, 2011 - 10:23AM

    I am a fan of firefly. Ever since it has started I havent looked back at the market. I am really happy to see it featured here because it deserves the kudos. I pray it keeps growing and keeps making us happy. Go firefly!!Recommend

  • May 16, 2011 - 11:11AM

    Firefly! The name itself makes me think of doodles and lines which make me smile and give me a fuzzy feeling inside. I love Varah’s work. It’s creativity mixed with love and magic. All the best to her for the future and I know she’ll definitely go places. InshAllah! :)Recommend

  • Reema
    May 16, 2011 - 12:20PM

    Here you go Zainab – https://www.facebook.com/Whimsical.Firefly

    Firefly is awesome! Feels good to see a piece on it, as it definitely brings happiness into our lines :)

    Every piece is beautiful and every idea as unique. Keep up the awesome work Varah!Recommend

  • samad
    May 16, 2011 - 1:17PM

    Zainaib here you go
    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1506060221#!/Whimsical.Firefly

    Firefly’s page on facebook.Recommend

  • Anum
    May 16, 2011 - 1:32PM

    @Zainab
    just type firefly int he search box…it has a yellow logo =)Recommend

  • Anum
    May 16, 2011 - 1:34PM

    @Zainab
    here’s the link in case u cant find it still..

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/Whimsical.Firefly

    Hope this helps =)Recommend

  • Nivyan Musavvir
    May 16, 2011 - 6:51PM

    Good job sister, I’m proud of you! Keep up the good work. :)Recommend

  • May 17, 2011 - 6:54AM

    Firefly spreads smiles~ That’s a creative idea! And you really did it, When I read this article and think of my firefly, I can’t help smiling. Thank you so much!!Recommend

  • Zaiq. Ali
    May 18, 2011 - 7:30PM

    Telling you that you’re “appreciated” does not do Firefly & you justice. You’re the best!Recommend

  • Hanaya
    May 19, 2011 - 11:54AM

    Watching firefly grow and evolve has been an honor. Varah has always had a beautifully unique way of looking at the world and she has captured her own essence as well as the thoughts of others marvelously through Firefly. Amazing job, and i cant wait to see what this creative genius comes up with next. :) Lots of love and best wishes.Recommend

  • May 21, 2011 - 10:02PM

    I am overwhelmed and completely in awe with all the kind thoughts, appreciation and immense prayers from everybody. They are a grave means of support and constant motivation-encouragement for me. I’m blessed to have an opportunity to spread smiles. :) JazakAllah everyone! And Alhamdulillah to all the beautiful rainbows our way! Smile Sunshine! Recommend

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