New girls on the t-shirt block


Express April 30, 2010

KARACHI: A new brand of t-shirts has come to town. Ammara Gul Aga and Sadaf Baloch are the creators of Gullak t-shirts, which is a line of t-shirts printed with corny jokes and catchy slogans.

In urdu ‘Gullak’ means ‘piggy bank’ and is an appropriate name for this particular brand of t-shirts where the aim is to get rich quick! The two originators of Gullak talk to The Express Tribune about their line of t-shirts and how they came up with the ‘Cha Gae Meera’ slogan.

What was the idea behind launching Gullak?

Sadaf: Well, basically because both of us love t-shirts. With our ideas, and Ammara’s talent we just knew we had to express all of it in the form of t-shirts. Hence Gullak was born. Ammara: It came to us in a dream. This kind of stuff happens when you fail to forward an email that is supposed to be forwarded to 1,500 people in five minutes. So yes, Shaikh Zaid came to us in a dream and said, “Girls, you need to make some monies yo!” We could not argue with that kind of logic and here we are today. Gullak = piggy bank = money = world peace.

Tell us about yourselves.

What are you in charge of at Gullak? Sadaf: I am a doctor by profession; I graduated in 2008 and am currently taking exams for further studies and specialisation. For the initial set of designs, both of us just brainstormed ideas that we, as Pakistanis could relate to and Ammara did the designing bit (Hey, I am a doctor, I cannot even write legibly, let alone draw). For the launch, I was not in town and Ammara handled everything, from getting the tshirts printed, to marketing to everything else in between.

It is all credit to Ammara’s hard work. Ammara: I am a graphic designer and animator by profession. Its like Sadaf said, we start off with a brain storming session, a sketch book and some half-baked brownies. Gullak comes straight from the twisted minds of two crazy ladies. I am the main designer for Gullak and the marketing head, and also the driver and gardener.

There have been a few other t-shirt brands launched in Pakistan, including Daku and Uth Oye. What makes Gullak different?

Sadaf: Honestly, I am a fan of both the brands and love what they are doing. But what makes us different is that we are just two girls with not a lot of money in our gullaks, with no cause or theme as such. We are making funny tees without being too political. What makes us different are our services, which include custom tees, tees for events and promotions etc. This, I believe is something none of the said brands are offering. Ammara: Well the main aim behind Gullak was to bring out stuff we can all relate to as Pakistanis in a way that has not been done before.

I mean why does it always have to do with rickshaws and truck art? Or even an anti terrorist slogan? There is so much more that has not been explored yet and Pakistanis’ are a very funny lot! We like to think of ourselves as a t-shirt portal and not just another t-shirt brand. So when you come to us you do not just get t-shirts, you get design solutions customised to fit your needs. There are so many new things we are planning.

There’s a definite love for Meera in the designs. What makes Meera such an icon?

Sadaf: Meera was everywhere, on TV, in newspapers, even on Facebook, week after week for ages. The next thing we know, Ammara comes up with ‘Cha Gae Meera’ which was an obvious hit. Ammara: Meera makes Meera such an icon! She is really the only genuine diva we have in Pakistan. Another thing is that we had had enough of people making fun of her and her language skills.

Yes, we all know her English is not all that great. Get over it! The woman does not exactly tour the world beating computers at chess! If you are so smart you should know better than to pick on someone for every bad life choice they make. As far as our designs are concerned, it was either Meera or truck art!

How are you planning to distribute the t-shirts? Will they be sold online/in retail stores? Any plans to take the t-shirt exhibition to Lahore/Islamabad?

Sadaf: As of now, we plan on selling the tee’s mainly through orders that we will be taking online. Will definitely hold exhibitions on and off in Karachi but not too sure about Lahore and Islamabad. Let’s keep our fingers crossed Ammara: We take orders online through our website (www.thegullak.com) and can be contacted through it. We are trying to arrange for retail outlets to make it easier for people and frequent exhibitions are part of the plan. Lahore and Islamabad are definitely on our agenda as soon as that gullak is filled enough to allow us to do that.

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