A Story of Empowering Women & Preserving Craft

For 50 years, the nonprofit Behbud has trained women in the traditional crafts of Pakistan. There was a need to document their processes and impact, and in 2018 we began working on this book.

Behbud is a remarkable story of how embroidery became the means for women to empower themselves and save their communities from falling into poverty- all the while keeping Pakistan’s traditional crafts alive. A quote by Begum Akhtar Riazuddin, a founding member of Behbud, says: “Instead of cursing the darkness around us, one could light a few candles”. This book is the story of the light she helped spread- showing how a sincere effort can help create meaningful societal change.

Designer + Art Director: Shehzil Malik
Author: Sonya Rehman
Editor: Tamkeen Nadeem
Copy editor: Mehr Husain
Documentary photographer: Khaula Jamil
Fashion photographers: Ali Khurshid & Noorulain Ali
Textile photographer: Sina Kocheri
Stylist: Tariq Amin
Models: Meher Hasan & Wajeeha Zaeem
Jeweler: Amna Shariff
Photos of the book by Haseeb. S.  Khan

Featuring 11 traditional crafts of Pakistan- ralli, phulkari, chikankari, cross stitch, kaantha, block printing, knitting, crochet, taarkashi, cutwork and smocking- the book details how Behbud Crafts has preserved and innovated these techniques over the years. It also features first person narratives of heroic women- home-based workers, community leaders, artisans, teachers, doctors and volunteers- who make up Behbud.

With lush photographs taken by some of Pakistan’s brightest talents, the book showcases the process of fashion and textile design, and delves into the craftsmanship and impact of embroidery. 

“Embroidering Dreams” details how a small effort snowballed to become one of the biggest self-sustainable initiatives in Pakistan. This has easily been the most challenging and longest running project I’ve done- from the conceptualization to the fieldwork and design- and I’m so happy to see it out in the world and to share these inspiring stories!

The book will soon be available in stores and online.